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Saturday 21 May 2011

Express In Drive-By Euro Shooting

Job losses are agreed by most of the Fourth Estate to be A Bad Thing. So when steel maker Tata (formerly Corus) announced a total of 1500 job cuts this week – 1200 at Scunthorpe, and 300 on Teesside – the reportage was suitably downbeat, except at the Express, where it was taken as a cue for more EU bashing.

EU Push For Green Energy Costs Another 1,500 Jobs” screamed the headline in today’s paper, the Express characteristically getting the story out a day after the Daily Mail and Guardian. There could be no doubt where the Desmond press laid the blame for the job losses: “climate change legislation required by Brussels”.

But not even the anti-EU Daily Mail goes with that (although it can’t resist reminding us that Tata is “Indian”), quoting one manager as saying “we will be taking out of production some highly energy-intensive plant that is pretty much obsolete in today’s steelmaking world”. Moreover, demand for the finished product isn’t there: “Some of our key markets are not forecast to fully recover ... for a number of years”.

True, all three papers quote the CEO of Tata Steel in Europe as saying “EU carbon legislation threatens to impose huge additional costs on the steel industry”, but this refers to potential future costs, not today’s market conditions. In any case, the Express gives the game away by fielding a UKIP MEP to dispense an industrial sized portion of pejorative anti-EU language.

Civitas HQ ... looks familiar

But then a more subtle tone enters: the Express now quotes an “Independent report” in support of its line. This report, actually more than a year old, comes from a body called Civitas, which certainly claims to be independent. But a cursory inspection of their background does not take long to show otherwise.

Civitas is headed by David G Green, formerly of the IEA, not known for its softy leftism. Editorial Director Robert Whelan is also ex-IEA. The trustees include Kenneth Minogue of Bruges Group fame, and its Academic Advisory Council includes Tim Congdon, UKIP follower and chair of the Freedom Association.

Even the Maily Telegraph concedes that Civitas is “right of centre”. And the group manages to share an address with the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance: both are based at 55 Tufton Street, SW1.

Trying to pass off another right wing lobby group as “independent” and failing miserably? That’ll be another Benchmark of Excellence.


Nick Cowen said...

Actually, the report refers to a study, Chain Reactions, that should be on general release sometime next week: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chain-Reactions-Chemical-Industry-Footprint/dp/1906837201/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306226003&sr=1-2

We would be delighted to send you a copy if you would be interested in evaluating the report on the merits of the content as well as the address at which it was written (the same building address as liberal groups such as No2ID, so not ideologically monolithic).

Tim Fenton said...

Nick, thanks for looking in and taking the time to comment.

If only time permitted me to be a book reviewer as well! I'll have to pass on your generous offer.

I note that you do not otherwise dissent from my analysis. There is a difference between Liberal and Libertarian, and according to their website, No2ID are based on Crawford Street in Marylebone.

Perhaps you were thinking of Big Brother Watch, which is effectively part of the TPA?

Nick Cowen said...

I know No2ID have some office space downstairs - I've seen them working there. Perhaps they don't use it as their current postal address.

In any case, there isn't all that much analysis for me to dissent to here. Our report is about the future costs (about to be imposed by the Coalition Government) of keeping energy intensive industries in the UK. Future expected costs (obviously) effect current market conditions. Your critique is more of a background check on Civitas, rather than an examination of our argument. And what else could it be, if you would rather not read it.

Tim Fenton said...

I have more reading waiting my attention than I can get round to, even without a think tank report to add to the pile.

Sadly, nowadays, background checks on think tanks and lobby groups are increasingly necessary, given that so many of them are pushing a particular agenda.

In any case, you got your name in the paper, even though the Express has become a joke publication.