The Earl of Crumpsall | 22.01.2008 05:31 | Workers' Movements
'The Project's annual four-day conference brings together 24 exceptional people (aged between 28-40) from each side of the Atlantic to tackle a specific issue of importance to both countries. Delegates are chosen for proven leadership in their field, and are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and views; they include senior representatives from business, government, the media, voluntary /non-profit organisations, medicine, and the armed forces.' 
In 2003 John Pilger noted that "Five members of Blair's first cabinet, along with his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, were members of the British American Project for a Successor Generation, a masonry of chosen politicians and journalists, conceived by the far-right oil baron J. Howard Pew and launched by Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch." 
It claims that 'Press coverage in the UK has suggested that the project is either a right wing conspiracy or a New Labour conspiracy. Is either of these allegations true? Sadly not. See the article on the project's history for details of its origins and the rest of this web site for its current orientation.'
It hasn't had any coverage in either of the left-leaning British broadsheets. However, the New Statesman says "But the project is only one of many schemes through which the British elite learns to love and live with America: the Kennedy scholarships, the Fulbrights and Harknesses, the International Visitor Program, together with more overtly agenda-driven institutions such as the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom and the Trades Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding. Taking all these into consideration accounts for almost every minister and adviser in the Labour Party."
The British-American Project for the Successor Generation (as it used to be known before it quietly contracted its title) was founded in 1985. Each year the project invites 24 American and 24 British delegates to take part in four days of dinners, parties and discussions (ranging from the nature of the "special relationship" to security and economic issues). Delegates enjoy comparative luxury (the class of '98 stayed at the $285-a-night Omni Royal Crescent in New Orleans). The aim, to quote the report of the 1985 conference, is "to create, at a time of growing international strains and stresses, a closer rapport between Britain and the United States among people likely to become influential decision-makers during the next two decades". Delegates are nominated by existing fellows; once they have come through the process of selection (in the UK, this is based on competitive debating sessions with other nominees), they have their travel and other expenses paid to the more or less exotic locations of the conference. Last year New Orleans, this year . . . Harrogate...
The project was first suggested in 1982 by Nick Butler, a Labour Party insider of the old right and a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). Along with many others in the US and Britain who viewed the special relationship favourably, he had become concerned about the growing tide of anti-American sentiment, particularly within his own party. This was the time of Greenham Common, CND and the battles over US deployment of cruise missiles in Europe. Vietnam and Watergate were fresh in everyone's memory.
Butler's response was to propose a series of conferences, similar in format to the annual get-together of the Anglo-German elite at Konigswinter, developing personal relationships between the participants and broadening understanding. This rapidly gained backing from Chatham House, then from other establishment bodies, such as the Royal United Services Institute and the US embassy in London. But at this stage there seemed little prospect of funding.
It was Sir Charles Villiers, the former chairman of British Steel, who overcame this obstacle by roping in two American anglophile friends of his, Lew van Dusen and Isadore Scott, who were able to secure $460,000 through the Pew Charitable Trusts, the second biggest grant-making body in the US. 
UK members of the British-American Project include:
* Peter Mandelson EU trade commissioner
* Jonathan Powell Tony Blair's chief of staff
* Jeremy Paxman broadcast journalist and author
* Mo Mowlam former Labour Northern Ireland secretary
* Adair Turner head of pensions commission and ex head of CBI
* Trevor Phillips chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality
* James Naughtie broadcast journalist and author
* Matthew Taylor Downing Street head of policy
* Chris Smith former Labour culture secretary
* Baroness Elizabeth Symons Foreign Office minister
* Lord George Robertson former Nato secretary-general
* Douglas Alexander Foreign Office and trade minister
* Wendy Alexander Member of the Scottish Parliament and former Scottish Executive minister
* Geoff Mulgan former head of Downing Street's policy and strategy unit
* Baroness Scotland Home Office minister
* Julia Hobsbawm public relations consultant
* Steve Hilton Conservative special adviser
* Benjamin Zephaniah poet and activist
* Colonel Bob Stewart former commander of British forces in Bosnia
* David Willetts Conservative shadow work and pensions secretary
* Alan Sked founder of Ukip
* Stephen Dorrell former Conservative Health Secretary
* Yasmin Alibhai-Brown columnist and broadcaster
* Charles Moore former editor of the Daily Telegraph
* Nick Butler BP group vice-president, strategy and policy development
* Lord Lipsey Labour peer and author
* Andy Beckett 'Friends in high places' The Guardian, Saturday November 6, 2004.
* Tom Easton 'The British American Project for the Successor Generation' from: Lobster: parapolitics and state research journal http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk 
* DAVID T. JOHNSON, MINISTER, US Embassy, London, Speeches & Remarks 04 November 2005 'Remarks at the British-American Project Annual Conference in Birmingham' 
* Duncan Parrish, "The British-American Project: right-wing conspiracy or right-on broker of the special relationship?", New Statesman, May 17, 1999.
* Official site of The British-American Project
Blogs that mention this article
* The Sideshow December 2007 Archive
* The Sideshow
* The details
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The Earl of Crumpsall