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« Former Labour MP Jane Griffiths endorses DD | Main | Praise and a £40,000 pensions job for Two Brains Willetts »

Comments

Wat Tyler

At the risk of sounding nasty, who funds Atlantic Bridge? I saw somewhere that at least one major US drugs company used to be involved.

Coffee Monster

The Atlantic Bridge's website seems very pro-Bush and pro-Iraq, I'm therefore surprised that Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a member of the Board of Advisers. His views must go down like a lead balloon with Rove, Ashcroft, et al.

Simon C

Editor,

Are you having your (banana) cake and eating it? I would have thought that you would be all in favour of the Shadow Foreign Secretary seeing it as a vital part of his brief to rebuild relations between the Party and Washington. Introducing a new generation of British Conservatives to Washington is surely part of that.

You have been rather approving of Liam's Atlanticist credentials, and the way he has tried to set the EU debate in a global context, demanding that the EU look eastwards to India and China. Indulging in these rather snide gossip asides is a little unedifying, if you don't mind me saying so.

Wat,

Hope you had a good time in Devon, but your usually sharp brain seems to have been blunted by all the clotted cream. It's rather sad to see you buying into the liberal cliche that all you need to say is "drugs company" and you can automatically smear anyone by association.

Quite apart from insulting all the people in Britain who work for large pharmaceuticals, there is the inconvenient fact that pharmas actually do some good. I assume you have a medicine cabinet somewhere at home, and that you might even have taken the odd medicinal drug from time to time. Then there's the small matter of drugs to treat cancer, AIDS, heart disease, polio, TB etc etc. Who do you think makes these?

Sure there are some bad practices, but "drugs company" does not equal bad.

Selsdon Man

Wat, a piece on the web alleges that an Atlantic Bridge staffer is funded by Pfizer. Pfizer funds several free market think tanks - Centre for the New Europe, International Policy Network and the Stockholm Network. The key person is Pfizer's Catherine Barr Windels who used to work at the Heritage Foundation. She even sits on the boards of organisations that Pfizer funds. It is unusual for donors to sit on the boards of "independent" research organisations.

Those in receipt of Pfizer money publish much on health issues. Some free market organisations, notably the Globalization Institute and Global Growth, accuse think tanks funded by large pharmaceuticals companies of opposing free trade in pharmaceuticals - parallel trade. The NHS benefits from parallel trade by buying its drugs from other countries where they are cheaper and save millions of pounds. There is no sign, however, that Atlantic Bridge is currently taking a similar line.

Selsdon Man

Simon, you make a reasonable point but I suggest that you visit http://www.pharmopoly.org and look at its blog. It is very revealing on pharmaceutical companies (especially Pfizer) funding of free market think tanks.

Wat Tyler

Simon- I think you may be right about the cream- I feel pretty furred up.

And on drugs companies, I completely agree with you- I'm an increasingly large consumer of their products and the world is much better off with them than without.

But like all private sector companies, they are driven by profit, and when lobby groups/thinktanks operating in the government sector are funded by them, we need to know. I just want that transparency thing.

Editor

Simon,

I thoroughly approve of LF's Atlanticist credentials but I thought the Fox Tours story was just amusing - as did The Sun (which gave LF such a fair wind last week).

I'm sorry you thought a little joshing was "snide" and "unedifying" but are you really telling me that these trips have nothing to do with the leadership contest?

Tim

Selsdon Man

Mr Editor, you are being a bit too cynical. Mr Fox is a man of integrity and I do not believe that these trips are connected with the leadership election. He has been trying to build an Atlantic Bridge (sorry, couldn't resist it) with the Bush administration and the Republican Party for some time. He would not risk taking waverers or doubters with him.

James Hellyer

Dr Fox denies that the overseas visits are about chasing votes. He says that

"India and China are going to be a subject of momentous importance in their political careers. I want to give them the opportunity to go abroad, build up their experience and make the personal contacts overseas that will help them to serve the country in the future."

So you see these overseas trips are for entirely innocent and horizon broadening purposes.

And if they ein a few votes too? Well, you might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Editor

And I think you are being a bit too naive, Selsdon Man. It is perfectly possible that he is only taking true believers in the Atlantic Alliance to DC but also people who he hopes might support his campaign... If he is serious about running for leader that's precisely what he should be doing. I'd actually be worried if he wasn't working hard to build a bigger network of personal supporters through an initiative such as this!

Selsdon Man

Fair point, Mr Editor but, if so, wouldn't such blatant enticements qualify as campaign expenditure and breach the cap? The other candidates would surely protest.

Selsdon Man

India and China are going to be a subject of momentous importance in their political careers. I want to give them the opportunity to go abroad, build up their experience and make the personal contacts overseas that will help them to serve the country in the future."

These trips do seem rather "convenient". Who is paying for them? I hope that it is not Pfizer.

Selsdon Man

How about a trip to Iraq to witness the peace, security and public services delivered by the invasion?

David Frum and Charles Krauthammer would make excellent tour guides for the streets of Baghdad.

Selsdon Man

Liam Fox is a busy boy. He also plays for Inverness Caledonian Thistle. See
http://www.sportnetwork.net/main/s14/st56495.htm

Simon C

Editor, if you were joshing I am sorry not to have spotted it - too early in the morning perhaps.

Of course, you could get Fox Tours & Pfizer to support your generous hospitality at the ConsservativeHome Party Conference stand.

James Hellyer


I'm sure Fox Tours could help open the right doors for you if you ever wanted to take your brand to the US. Just think, one day there could franchises of RepublicanHome.com in every major town from the East to the West coast!

GaffaUK

Wow I wonder if Pfzer is going to use Viagara to sponsor the Tory Conference? God knows they have been impotent for so many years now and are in need of a lift!

Selsdon Man

Pfizer normally sponsors two events at party conference. If my memory is correct, one of last year's was in favour of a smoking ban.

The company is generous - expect a stiff drink!

Peter

While their is no problem with him going to the US you have to say just before a leadership election it will always look like a linked jolly. Serious part of the trip through would be what part of the Republican party are these people going to see(hopefully the Steve Forbes part rather than Pat Robertson).

James Hellyer


Do we know which MPs have been taken on a Fox tour?

Peter

Not that I know of?
Do have a problem through wether they be spend a lot of their time singing.

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Tim

Thanks for the information, as someone that works in the pharmaceutical field, it was very interesting. This just shows why employment screening services are so important.

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