Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Sinister Purpose To Common Purpose?

A shadowy outfit, called Common Purpose, is lurking in the political undergrowth. When New Labour cronyism and lackey-stuffed quangos appear on the political radar, its 'leaders', with meaningless buzz-words, are not far behind. 

Is Common Purpose a secret society bent on world domination or just a way of getting a lift up the career ladder, with jobs for the boys and girls? 

More than 20,000 self-styled 'leaders' have attended Common Purpose courses but only the chosen ones have heard of it. It seems you've got to be in it to win it.

A quick Google of 'Common Purpose' unearths a can of worms, with websites dedicated to exposing what they claim is a secret networking organisation at the heart of the establishment, with a hidden agenda and influence.

Prominent supporters include BBC business editor and treasury moonlighter, Robert Peston, and the Met's  'shoot to kill' cop, Cressida Dick. 

But that's just the tip of an iceberg with the tentacles stretching out to top public sector officials, the BBC, police, church, many of New Labour's quangos, councils, the civil service and regional development agencies. 

Surprising numbers of lawyers are CP members. In the NHS, with bureaucrats outnumbering hospital staff three to one, it's no surprise CP membership is at the heart.

Trying to get to the truth depends on who you want to believe but the brave BBC has made a stab at it with a fair and balanced report broadcast on the Jonathan Maitland show and now filed on BBC on line news.

Common Purpose was backed by John Prescott's office of the deputy prime minister (ODPM) and its notional chief executive is Julia Middleton who used to work in the ODPM. 

Back in the glorious Blair years, it was involved with the disastrous Millennium Dome Company and the squandering of £800 million of taxpayer's cash.

The organisation organises training and networking events for so-called 'high-fliers' operating in the cities with many people involved but  not declaring themselves.

The CP website says: "Common Purpose gives leaders the inspiration, the knowledge and the connections they need to produce real change - in their workplaces and in their communities."

But Brian Gerrish, who leads a campaign against Common Purpose, believes this is a smokescreen: "It's a secret society for careerists. The key point is that the networking is done out of sight of the general public. They are operating a highly political agenda, which is to create new chosen leaders in society."

The conspiracy theorists believe Common Purpose is trying take over the world. Shaping people to work to its hidden agenda of promoting a European super-state, forcing diversity on society and imposing political correctness.

But the organisation's website says: "We are always balanced and owe no historical or other allegiance to any other group."

Common Purpose is a registered charity but with a covert if not overt political agenda, there are calls for its charity status to be be revoked.

Over £100 million of taxpayers cash has been spent on CP courses which don't come cheap. 

A Freedom of Information request by Conservative MP, Philip Davies, revealed the department for work and pensions had spent £238,000 sending its people on Common Purpose courses between 2002 and 2007.

While there is no evidence that Common Purpose has anything to hide, it is not the most open organisation. Its meetings are held under the 'Chatham House Rule', which means everything that is said is unattributable.

But Common Purpose 'graduates' from the New Labour unelected and unaccountable quangos and the Regional Development Agencies do have the power to award large sums of public money to projects.

It is on the issue of Europe where the greatest contention lies, with Common Purpose identifying 'leaders' in all levels of government, in what they call “the post democratic society” of an all powerful EU. And EU grants and funding keep pouring in. 

Time and gain the public is bombarded with the narrative of New Labour language, political correctness and management initiatives which seem to focus on the process rather than the outcome. That was recently blasted by Lord Laming's review of the Baby P scandal, where part of the government solution is - more leadership courses. 

The New Labour language chimes with that of Common Purpose. Talk is of empowering communities, vision, mainstreaming, working partnerships, regeneration and celebrating diversity. Documents are littered with the buzz words of  change and reorganisation.

The Orange Party doesn't believe this is a secret sinister society plotting to take over the world - that's best left to the Masters of the Universe or Simpson's Stonecutters. 

But those in Common Purpose do share a common purpose with the New Labour brand and have a vested interest in keeping a doomed government in power. With that government bent on creating an explosion of quangos and agencies stuffed with faithful followers, people will join up to join in and get on. 

At worst it's an example of cronyism, all unseen to the prying eyes of the general public. And that can lead down the dangerous path of fraud and corruption. 


John M Ward said...

It's an inceberg, and it is those like Gerrish who have seen below the water-line and posted a lot of documentary material to show at least something of the true nature of Common Purpose 9and, to an extent, the other outfits with whom they are allied).

This genuinely is a very serious matter, and I think that for once the Orange Party is incorrect to fail to realise this — which really isn't like you!

I think some further investigation is needed, and then a follow-up article.

the orange party said...

John - I take your point. The more you investigate this outfit the more 'sinister' it appears.
This post set out to be a first foray into the weird world of Common Purpose and I believe one of the first times a journalist has taken an objective look at it.
Rest assured there will be further investigations - and follow-ups.