An organisation that has been the focus of such criticism is Common Purpose (CP), a charity that was founded in the UK in 1989. As stated in an article by the BBC in March 2009, “Its [CP] critics say it is a secret networking organisation at the heart of the establishment, with a hidden agenda and influence. More than 20,000 people -- identified as the next generation of leaders -- have attended its courses, but if you are not one of them, you have probably never heard of it. It is called Common Purpose and prominent supporters include BBC business editor Robert Peston, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police and numerous top public sector officials. It’s a not-for-profit organisation which organises training and networking events for high-fliers.”
In a Summary Information Return of Aims, Activities and Achievements 2006, we learn that the Common Purpose Charitable Trust (CPCT) in itself has minimal activity as its activities are mainly carried out through the subsidiary charities: Common Purpose UK and Common Purpose International, and the trading company, Civilia Limited. The aim of the CPCT is to improve the way society works by increasing the number of informed individuals who are actively involved in the areas where they live and work, and by encouraging collaboration between individuals, sectors and organisations.
The Common Purpose Charitable Trust’s objectives, they say, “are the advancement of education for the public benefit and to educate men and women from a broad range of geographical, political, ethnic, institutional, social and economic backgrounds . . .” The most significant activity of the CPCT in 2006, they say, was spending £6.4 million on the delivery of a range of educational programmes for a diverse range of participants. We are also told that the CPCT does not have a CEO. Julia Middleton is CEO of Common Purpose UK, so who is running the CPCT?
A deed of covenant was entered into on 27 May 1999 whereby the ENTIRE profits of the company, Civilia Ltd, as computed for corporation tax purposes, have been covenanted to The Common Purpose Charitable Trust. The company, Civilia Ltd, has taken advantage of the exemption available within FRS8 not to disclose transactions with greater than 90 percent of the members of The Common Purpose Charitable Trust Group.
Here, the chair of the Trustees of Common Purpose, Sir David Bell, addresses the CP conspiracy theories. You can watch a video by Brian Garrish, a former British Navy lt. commander, that highlights the CP conspiracy theories. Accusations against Common Purpose include recruiting and training leaders to work “beyond authority,” and abuse their positions by undermining the leaders in their own organisation, exerting more control, and encouraging others to follow in order to get things done in more efficient and effective ways.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming and political correctness are favoured tools of Common Purpose so as to manipulate agreement within society on a range of issues that are then defended from all challenge.
In the article, Mental Health and World Citizenship, J.R. Rees, a founder of the Tavistock Institute, writes of “learning to apply some of our understanding of individuals to the problems of group attitudes and international tensions. No doubt psychiatrists should be able to provide the central focus for much of the thinking that is necessary, but they certainly cannot do it alone.”
Common Purpose has members in central and local government, Houses of Parliament, police, military, legal profession, BBC, NHS, church, many of Britain’s 8,500 quangos, education, social services, civil service, and regional development agencies. This makes lodging complaints against CP difficult because CP graduates and trainees are everywhere.
The Common Purpose effect, we are told, is inspiring leaders around the UK and giving them the knowledge and connections they need to improve how society works. Over 120,000 leaders have contributed to or participated in a Common Purpose programme and this grows by at least 3,000 people each year. Common Purpose is an international organisation with leaders of a new order being trained and placed in key positions around the world. Common Purpose charge substantial figures for their courses. Matrix costs £3,950 plus VAT, a course for a high-flying leader can be as much as £9,950 plus VAT.
The National School of Government, Public Service Leadership First Annual Conference, includes Workshop 8, ‘Leading in Partnerships and Beyond Authority’ -- the facilitator is, Julia Middleton, chief executive of Common Purpose.
The following is an excerpt from a reply to a freedom of information request regarding Workshop 8 that can be found at whatdotheyknow.com (WDTK). “After careful consideration, the National School of Government has concluded that it must withhold the names and job titles/ranks of those who signed up to attend this particular workshop, citing the exemption detailed at section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘personal information’). . . . no documentation is traceable for Workshop 8. I can also confirm that the National School does not hold a syllabus or any other learning material relating to this workshop.” To find this reply, do a search at WDTK for ‘Public Service Leadership First Annual Conference’ and find reply with the same title dated 22 February 2010. I tried to include the link several times, but it keeps going dead.
On 6 February 2002, the official website of the UK Prime Minister announced, “Dame Rennie Fritchie re-appointed as Commissioner for Public Appointments.”
In the following minutes (Number: 716), dated 23 May 2002, Julia Middleton, CEO of Common Purpose, states that she is working for Dame Rennie. This gives Julia Middleton a great deal of influence not only as an assessor, but also to ensure that once assessed by herself or colleagues, suitable Common Purpose graduates and/or trainees are appointed to key leadership positions in the public sector throughout the UK.
Parliament UK: Select Committee on Public Administration, Minutes of Evidence. Examination of Witnesses, THURSDAY 23 MAY 2002 JULIA MIDDLETON AND AMELIA SUSSMAN
Excerpt from minutes:
Chairman: . . . could I ask you very quickly and if you could be very quick when you answer it; because, first of all, how did they find you?
(Ms Middleton) Tapped me on the shoulder.
708. Who did?
(Ms Middleton) I cannot even remember.
709. A man?
(Ms Middleton) Somebody from the Department wrote me a letter.
710. Which Department?
(Ms Middleton) The DTI.
711. “Will you be one of our independent assessors, please?”
(Ms Middleton) Yes.
712. Okay; and what is involved?
(Ms Middleton) Sifting through the application forms, making sure that the short-listing **** is fair and decent, and then attending the interviews, making sure that that is fair and decent and an appointment is made appropriately.
713. In about how many appointments a year?
(Ms Middleton) I have done two this year.
(Ms Sussman) No prior briefing.
(Ms Middleton) Dame Rennie has made some improvements to this system.
714. But neither have made assessors?
(Ms Sussman) No.
(Ms Middleton) Yes, I do think she is advertising for assessors, is she not?
(Ms Sussman) I do not know.
(Ms Middleton) But she has made some good improvements to the system; it is not an easy one to do. And I do know that I am slightly different, because, not being portfolio and having a full-time job, I pay the mortgage on my full-time job salary, and, therefore, when you have to say, “No, I believe this is the right way to do things,” the fact that my mortgage does not rely upon it makes it much easier for me to say, “I believe this is how we should do things.”
715. Do you feel you are working for the Department?
(Ms Middleton) No.
716. Who are you working for?
(Ms Middleton) Now, Dame Rennie; before, I have no idea who I was working for.”
Chairman: Good. I am sorry we cannot do justice to that, but I just wanted to dip into it ever so slightly. Thank you very much. It is fascinating; and George Orwell once talked about the deep, deep sleep of England, and it is interesting that you have come here to wake us up, and the work you are doing I think is extraordinarily interesting, and we have learned more about it, and I think we would like to know more about it too, and also thank you for doing it. Thank you very much indeed.
Some of Julia Middleton’s evidence from the above minutes are included in the report, House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee: Government By Appointment: Opening Up The Patronage State.
Dame Rennie Fritchie became a Baroness in 2005 and is a member of the House of Lords.
Julia Middleton, the CEO of Common Purpose has founded or helped in the founding of DEMOS, the Media Standards Trust, The Good Governance Network, Impetus Trust, and Alfanar. Julia is also on the board of the Orwell Prize and was an editor of the magazine ‘Marxism Today’.
The board of trustees of the Media Standards Trust include Julia Middleton (CP), Sir David Bell (CP) and Anthony Salz, the executive vice chairman of Rothschild. The president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in the U.S. was the founding president of Demos (U.S. Think Tank), an organisation of which he is currently board chair. The History section of Demos informs us that Barack Obama was recruited to Demos when he was a state senator in Illinois.
Julia married Rupert J. Middleton in April 1984 in Hackney, London. Julia’s husband, Rupert J. Middleton is group director of manufacturing at Trinity Mirror Newspaper Group.
Julia Middleton is author of the book ‘Beyond Authority’, and also author of ‘Quality Circles’ (1982), published under her maiden name Morland, while she was employed by the Industrial Society. The Common Purpose Campaign, 1978-1986. (p.32), was active at the time that Julia was employed at the Industrial Society.
DEMOS was founded in 1993 by former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, and Geoff Mulgan, who became its first director. DEMOS was formed in response to what Mulgan, Jacques and others saw as a crisis in British politics.
At an event hosted by the Overseas Development Institute in 2003 to examine the role of think tanks as policy makers, Tom Bentley, executive director of DEMOS, is of the opinion that, “As New Labour has discovered, the gap between policy and practice is one of the most difficult to bridge. DEMOS has in many ways acted as an intellectual intermediary in the policy/practice sphere, introducing and working on new terms (e.g., ‘social entrepreneurship’ and ‘joined-up government’) as well as applied thinking. Many policy makers are not well equipped to build institutions, and DEMOS therefore works through partnerships to develop this capacity.” This would complement the role of the Fabian Society which has played a central role for more than a century in the development of political ideas and public policy.
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