Yesterday, this website reported on the shenanigans as Greenwich borough’s political parties select their candidates for next year’s council elections – and how leading Labour figures have suffered for their loyalty to outgoing leader Chris Roberts.
Keepers of the Roberts flame are still battling away, though. But one of those ultra-loyalists – who has been outspoken in his support of the Silvertown Tunnel – has a past helping found a right-wing party which advocates the abolition of the welfare state, as well as consorting with a leading climate change denier.
Mark Adams, the chair of Charlton Triangle Homes, is a friend of the outgoing leader. Regular readers of this website will know him for his distinctive contributions to comment threads on posts on Greenwich Council’s foot tunnel fiasco (“You only blame Greenwich Council as you only have a vendetta against them”) and the Silvertown Tunnel (“This is the second time I have pointed out your tendency for incorrect exaggeration and hyperbole”).
Adams has thrown his hat in the ring for a number of seats – this week getting rebuffed by members in the Charlton ward where his housing association is based. But while other candidates can point to worthy pasts of envelope-stuffing and leaflet delivery, Adams’ past, as documented in newspaper reports over the past 13 years, is a lot more exotic.
He worked in Downing Street for six years as private secretary to John Major and Tony Blair. In 2000, he was accused of leaking Blair’s cabinet discussions about the Milennium Dome to the Mail on Sunday, something he refused to confirm or deny in an interview with the Guardian at the time.
He cashed in on his political knowledge by reinventing himself as a lobbyist, pushing clients’ interests in the corridors of power. He’s even been lobbying for lobbyists, with the StandUp4Lobbying group.
But what he’s left off his various CVs is his work setting up a party seen briefly as a right-wing threat to the Tories.
In 2002, Adams teamed up with Scottish quarry owner Robert Durward to found the New Party. At the time, the New Party’s views were seen as so right-wing that Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie branded it “fascist and undemocratic”.
But later, senior figures included then-Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith’s former chief of staff. Indeed, Adams talked up the chances of Tories defecting, telling the Daily Mail in December 2002: “You would not expect me to say a member of the shadow cabinet is ready to jump. They are not at that stage yet.”
The following April, its party’s website declined to identify its backers, but declared:
They have become increasingly frustrated at the refusal, or inability, of New Labour to recognise the high level of damage being caused to the business community by the incessant flood of additional taxation and regulation.
According to The Scotsman newspaper, Durward was prompted into action by the “aggregates tax” – a levy imposed by the Blair government which affected his quarrying business in Lanarkshire. He founded the British Aggregates Association to fight it, and to battle environmentalists. As the paper put it:
By 2001, he had decided that something more had to be done to combat the environmentalists. This time he linked up with a former Downing Street civil servant, Mark Adams.
Mr Adams, who served as private secretary to John Major and Tony Blair, the former and current prime ministers, had set up his own public relations firm, Foresight Communications, in January that year. Together, the two men launched the Scientific Alliance, an organisation whose stated aim was to present a “rational, scientific approach to the environmental debate”.
Recruiting a number of respected scientists as advisers, Mr Durward provided funding to get the organisation off the ground. With offices in London, and a website registered in the name of Cloburn quarry, he now had a vehicle to nip at the ankles of the environmentalists. who were tormenting him.
Writing under the auspices of the alliance and using its registered address in Golden Cross House in Duncannon Street, London, he railed at the “profligate” cost of talks on climate change. He was, he said, “a businessman who is totally fed up with this environmental stuff … much of which is unjustified, such as the climate change levy”.
Adams himself told The Scotsman in 2003 that the New Party was a “a centre-Right organisation, trying to appeal to disaffected Tories, to people who voted Labour in 1997 and 2001 but are thinking again”.
But the party, which stood as the Scottish People’s Alliance on a platform of “direct democracy“, flopped at that year’s Scottish elections, and many of its top team defected to Robert Kilroy-Silk’s shortlived Veritas group in 2005.
In 2007, the New Party re-emerged after funding a court case which challenged the screening of Al Gore’s climate change film An Inconvenient Truth in secondary schools.
It was voluntarily deregistered as a political party in July 2010, but its website continues, declaring “ the Welfare State does not work and has caused many thousands to be born into poverty and deprivation” and advocating “a low tax, lightly regulated economy“.
Is this all in Mark Adams’ distant past? As late as November 2009, Mark Adams was still registered as providing political consultancy work for the New Party through his then company, Foresight Consulting.
Adams sold Foresight a year later, but set up a new lobbying company, The Professional Lobbying Company, last year. However, no accounts have ever been filed at Companies House.
He remains a staunch advocate of lobbying, despite his decision to seek elected office. On Twitter, he described one critic of the industry on Twitter as “another misguided lefty without a cause”.
Indeed, when asked on Twitter about lobbying and his support for the Silvertown Tunnel, he branded his questioners “a bunch of political thugs” – even though they were just people who’d followed his tweets and his comments on this blog. He later described himself as “a lobbyist on a sabbatical“.
However, Adams is deputy chair of the London Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies for business interests and backs Silvertown – something he didn’t disclose in his comments on this website.
Reading reams of his his furious tweets, plus his replies on this website, what’s striking is his lack of patience with anyone who questions him, and his contempt for the political class he seeks to join, down to this uncomradely exchange with Labour MP Paul Flynn. Why would he seek to join them?
Whether Adams is the kind of person Greenwich Labour activists want to have represent them is, of course, an issue for them. How many of them he’d describe as “misguided lefties without a cause” is another matter. And how on earth a man who is well-documented as having helped set up a right-wing party in Scotland ended up pushing to be a Labour council candidate in south-east London is yet another puzzler to ponder.
But Labour members’ decision over whether to pick the “lobbyist on a sabbatical” for a council seat will send out a huge signal of where they want the Royal Borough of Greenwich to go. This will be a story to watch.
Thanks for the publicity, Daryl. I’ve clearly ruffled you even more than I hoped. What’s that about ad hominem attacks you complain about every time I criticise your wooly thinking?
I think Labour members have more sense than to allow a disaffected Green, who spends most of his time slagging off the excellent progress in the Borough, affect the selection process.
Hello Mark. Did you tell Labour Party officials about your activities with Robert Durward while applying to stand? I understand they like to be warned about potentially tricky issues.
Spat out my cornflakes on reading this. Very well researched article, Darryl.
I recognise that you cannot be expected to have a sophisticated knowledge of the lobbying profession. Most however realise that – just like lawyers – we advise clients without necessarily agreeing with their views.
But thanks for raising the point.
I recognise that you cannot be expected to have a sophisticated knowledge of all voters. Most however suspect that if someone they’re asked to vote for is actively assisting causes from the other side of the political spectrum (ever if only for the money) then they may not be entirely sincere in the beliefs they claim to hold when standing for office.
But thanks for raising the point.
I’ll wager I speak to considerably more voters than you do. And whether I’m selected or not – and Labour have lots of excellent potential candidates – I’ll continue to talk to them.
Mark, did you tell Greenwich Labour officials about your involvement with the New Party? It’s a simple question.
I’m sure you will understand that internal Labour Party affairs are not the business of activists from rival political parties. However I can assure you that the selection process is rigorous and is already producing some excellent new candidates. Once again Labour will do the Borough proud.
Now forgive me, but I have a busy day today and will not be able to comment further for at least a few hours. So don’t take silence as agreement.
Given you have chosen to launch such a personal attack on me, will you afford me the courtesy of a right to reply as a main posting on your blog?
Mark – who are the activists from rival political parties? Yes, I ran as a Green candidate in 2010, but cancelled my membership about six months later, deciding I could do better things by writing about issues affecting SE London rather than hacking away on doorsteps.
You’re welcome to write a reply on http://greenwichmark.wordpress.com and I’ll link to it.
This slimy fellow sounds right up Greenwich Council’s street!
Bravo Darryl!! Your “wooly [sic] thinking” has once again masterfully exposed the sordid underbelly of Greenwich politics.
I sincerely hope that no Labour Party member in Greenwich would ever consider selecting this self-serving, disingenuous and rude political mercenary, as he is clearly sufficiently manipulative and two-faced to strong-arm his way to the council leadership if elected.
And nice zinger, Neil Clasper!
Mark – While it is generally accepted that the lobbying profession “advise clients without necessarily agreeing with their views”, the concern is probably that issues raised here are about two organisations you are generally thought to have helped found. Looking at your lobbying history the connnections with Durward appear to run far deeper than a simple professional relationship.
Perhaps you would like to tell us the about the extent of your work for The New Party to begin with? It is well documented that your office was the main point of contact on the phones for a number of years. How long was this for? What else did you do, e.g. did you help write policy?
Electoral Commission records show that Durward was the sole donor to The New Party, donating £1,382,819.88 in the last decade. If you were solely responsible for public relations, how much of those donations went to your company as charges for professional fees, etc.?
Were your new colleagues in the local Labour party aware of your past? When did your views change so dramatically?
And then there is the Scientific Alliance…
I made a perfectly reasonable request, in the circumstances, for a right of reply. I am of course not surprised that you have turned it down, as you do not seem interested in debate.
Indeed I recognise that the reason I have been subjected to such an astonishingly personal attack by you is that I have dared to take issue with you over some of the views you have expressed.
Perhaps you have discovered such bullying works. But I am afraid I will continue to speak out if I think you have got it wrong. I have spent most of my adult life shrugging off personal attacks that come as a result of fighting for what I believe in.
Mark – When you say “I have spent most of my adult life shrugging off personal attacks that come as a result of fighting for what I believe in.”
Are you referring to what you actually believe in? Or what other people pay you to believe in? I’m confused.
“I’m sure you will understand that internal Labour Party affairs are not the business of activists from rival political parties. However I can assure you that the selection process is rigorous and is already producing some excellent new candidates. Once again Labour will do the Borough proud.”
As certain wards (or their predecessors) have not changed hands since the formation of Greenwich Borough in the 1960s, even in the depths of the 1968 Labour rout, this is very much of interest to the wider public in Greenwich. Why should a couple of dozen people choose the councillors for the next four years?
With the local, printed press in the cold, clammy grip of council control it is also important that these issues are aired somewhere like this as otherwise they would never see the light of day.
Perhaps Greenwich Time would print your rebuttal? There should still be time for next week.
Mr Adams, you come across as very aggressive, and seem to see questions or contrary viewpoints as personal attacks. I won’t preach but that doesn’t seem a particularly helpful communications strategy if you seek elected office.
My experience of the lobbying industry is pretty extensive over the last twenty years, and I’ve always found them to be charm personified.
Let’s get a few things straight, Mark:
First, this report is not “a personal attack”. It is an exposé of your political past, which is directly relevant to your possible selection as a local council candidate.
Second, at no stage has Darryl engaged in personal or ad hominem attacks. By contrast, you have repeatedly attacked Darryl and those who have agreed with him in a manner that I would describe as ad hominem.
Third, you have repeatedly refused to answer direct questions. In this case, you have refused to answer the question that Darryl has put to you twice: did you inform the local Labour Party of your past association with the New Party and Durward?
Fourth, there is no “right of reply” on blogs. You are free to comment, as all readers are. But being the subject of a blog post does not give you the right to your own post on Darryl’s blog.
Fifth, I have been reading this blog for years and I can assure you that Darryl is very much interested in debate. Again by contrast, you have not debated facts or policy positions, but have dismissed any challenges to your assertions as “woolly thinking”.
Hope that helps to clear up any confusion.
I know Labour was a “broad church”, but this is ridiculous. It demonstrates just how far to the Right that Labour has shifted.
Mark – Darryl didn’t turn down your request to reply, he offered to link to anything you choose to put on your own blog.
Hope that clears up any confusion.
Information (or lack of it) lodged with Companies House for Mr Adams and his companies is interesting, and worth following up.
For example, if Mr Adams sold Foresight Communications Limited in 2010, why is he still listed as a director?
@Franklin. Hear, hear!
Sorry Mark, you’ve been vetted, that’s all, it’s not a personal attack, its just that you’ve set yourself up with aggressive behaviour on here and on Twitter for your background to be looked into.
Thanks for partly exposing the true nature of Mark Adams, Darryl. Thanks, Mark Adams, for completing the picture with your evasive and belligerent replies.
Good to see Paul Flynn MP tweeting about this to his 7000+ followers after being harassed by Mr. Adams himself. https://twitter.com/Paulflynnmp/status/343010019429715969 – “Wonderfully revealing history of lobbyist seeking favours from Labour Party.”
Hopefully Paul will take this matter further with the party hierarchy. The leadership of the council, unlike the members, appear to be to the right of the local Tories but this is taking it too far.
Perhaps Paul Flynn could send Mr. Adams a copy of his book, “How to be an MP”. I’m sure it would be helpful at a local level too.
Perhaps Mark knows the voters all too well. Even with his past so long as he is in possession of a red rosette he would be elected.
Rather than take over the Mary Mary thread I’m posting this here in your very own home from home.
You said over in the Mary thread that Darryl “seems to have most of the facts about my life wrong,” Could you in all seriousness please explain what Darryl has got wrong.
If you are standing or hope to stand for public office then it would be a great help to floating voters like myself if you could answer some questions – a few of the ones that spring to my mind are below. Of course you don’t HAVE to answer them. And I’m not saying or implying that you do. What I am saying is that if you want people to vote for you then these are questions that people will want to have answered.
1/ What was your involvement with THE NEW PARTY? You are listed on Wiki as a “senior figure.”
2/ How does one’s internal belief system go from being a “senior figure” in a party that was reportedly to the right of the 2002 Tory party to wanting to stand as a labour councillor?
3/ What are your own beliefs on Climate Change today?
4/ Have you ever been hired by anyone to lobby against the cause of climate change (ie to convince people it’s not happening). And if so, was that your personal belief at the time? If so, has that changed?
Many thanks, Mark
It is actually pretty straightforward and even mundane. Political consultants advise their clients in much the same way as lawyers advise theirs. It is frankly as ludicrous to suggest that political consultants must share the views of their clients as it is to suggest that lawyers committed the crimes of theirs.
I hope you understand that my professional relationship with all my clients precludes me from saying which of their views I agree with and which I do not.
Many thanks for your reply.
If you were continuing to be a lobbyist then your position above (ie not explaining what you think about issues) would be acceptable – if frustrating. But if you are asking folks to vote for you, then people have a right to know what you think about issues. And a right to ask questions about what you’ve done in the past.
I’ll have another crack at some straight forward questions that I think anyone asking for public votes should expect to be asked and expect to answer. And I’ll leave aside (for now) the issues of you being paid to advise on subjects you don’t agree with.
1/ Do you currently support the New Party?
2/ What are your current 2013 personal views about Climate Change?
3/ Can you understand that people who might vote Labour in 2014 are wary of voting for someone listed on record as being a “senior figure” in a very right wing party only ten years ago?
I think those are pretty straightforward reasonable questions and would appreciate a straightforward set of answers.
Can I suggest you reread my last comments which dealt exactly with this point. I explained both why it’s silly to suggest political consultants agree with the views of their clients and why it is not professional for us to set out our areas of disagreement with them. Simply restating the questions will not make any difference to my answer. I’m not actually asking anyone outside the Labour Party to vote for me at the moment. As and when I do, I will certainly be making my views clear
Again thanks for your reply.
So your position is that you do want / would like Labour party members to vote for you to be a councillor candidate, but you’re not prepared to tell them your personal views on (for example) climate change?
No that is not my position No that is not m No No that is not my position
Apologies but my phone is playing up
Mark – I’m honestly struggling to understand. Sorry if I seem to you to be thick.
How can you ask Labour party members to vote for you to be selected as a councillor if you will not tell them your views on any issue that overlaps with things you have consulted on as a lobbyist?
I’m not saying you are thick at all, I’m just surprised at some of the conclusions you are reaching. What makes you think I have refused to tell Labour Party members my views?
No, no, I not suggesting you said that at all.
Your answer at 10:54pm implied (at least to me) that you had not set out your views yet. You said: “As and when I do, I will certainly be making my views clear.”
If in fact it’s the case that you are happy to fully answer the questions above to Labour party members, but not on the public record yet then please just say that. But that wasn’t the impression you were giving me.
New question – in the hope of getting a yes or no.
Is it the case, Mark, that you’re happy to talk about your personal views on issues like climate change to a labour party meeting when asking for their votes, but NOT in a more public place like this blog?
Thank you for the reply. And the Yes or No answer.
So I can be sure I’m understanding you – you’re saying that you won’t even tell Labour members who you are asking to vote for you your beliefs?
Is that right?
That’s wrong. It looks like you need to reread the question you asked me. Anyway nice chatting to you but I’m shutting down for the night now
I’m really trying to understand who you are prepared to talk to and about what, but I am finding it hard.
See you in the morning. Have a good kip.
It certainly appears that Mark Adams has got the politicians ability of not actually answering a question and being evasive down to a fine art.
He should go far.
Here’s hoping its well away from the London Borough of Greenwich.
Mark, you haven’t answered the questions asked.
When are you going to publish your rebuttal of this post for Darryl to link to? You claim it’s all untrue so it would be good to see you prove it, given that everything that has been said is sourced.
I have explained why it’s nonsense. Please read my earlier posts. Consultants advise clients but they don’t have to share their views. And I’m not going to be drawn on what I do and don’t personally agree with my clients on. There seem to be a small number of people associated with this blog who just refuse to accept that. Fine, but everyone I have spoken to personally accepts the position.
It’s not true that I’ve refused to answer questions. I’ve answered them by explaining the position very clearly. Obviously a number of you don’t like my answers, but that is a matter for you.
Can I suggest we move on from the personal and get back to debating issues? I think I have explained the position enough now so will not be repeating myself any more.
I’ve read all your comments and tweets and am still no clearer on a number of important issues. Here’s a shortlist:
1/ Do you believe that climate change is happening, and if so that its cause is anthropomorphic carbon emissions?
2/ Do you support the climate change levy?
3/ Do you support the aggregates levy?
4/ Do you believe that Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” should be shown in secondary schools?
5/ Do you support the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel?
You say you’ve read my comments, so you’ve seen me explain that I won’t debate here the position of my clients. Yet you ask me four questions on the policy position of clients of mine. I really don’t know how I can make myself any clearer. Sadly I can only conclude that folks in here are just ploughing on regardless of what I say.
It’s boring, dull and repetitive. So the same answer applies.
And if you really have read all my comments, you will see I have blogged about river crossings.
Now let’s see who’s the next joker to ask me the same questions yet again. The same answers will apply.
I believe Franklin was asking about your views, Mark, not the views of your clients.
Why so shy about sharing your views with us? You have expressed a desire to seek elected office, after all.
I think it’s pretty clear that I was asking about your position, not the position of your clients. The “Do you believe…” and “Do you support…” do kinda make that obvious.
Who’s the joker, pal?
Quite. I am being asked for my personal views on the views of my clients. I’ve explained why that is inappropriate. Hello joker. And hopefully goodbye
No, you’re being asked for your views on key policy issues of the day. Your outright refusal to answer any of them speaks volumes.
I’ve been here, and will be, for many years, Mark. Delighted to hear you’re leaving.
I think we are agreed that I am being asked for my personal view on the views of my clients. For the very last time, I have explained why this is not appropriate. I really am beginning to wonder what the problem is that means some of you are having problems understanding this very basic point. I’m afraid I cannot explain it in any simpler terms than I have already. Now if you can’t simply accept this and move on, tough.
I am rather disappointed by how poor the arguments have been in this thread. I think it is time to move on
Mark – I think the basic problem here is that politicians win or lose votes (mostly) be expressing their views and their beliefs. I can see how as a professional lobbyist it might be awkward to express views that were opposite or opposed to the views of people or firms paying your wages.
But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to vote for you or to take you seriously if you can’t or won’t express your own views.
You need to decide if you are a lobbyist (in which case your views on issues can remain private) or if you want to run for elected office in which case you need to give up being a lobbyist and nail your colours to a public mast on all sorts of issues.
Lobbyist or councillor candidate? I don’t think it can be both.
PS Mark – I think people (especially myself) keep asking the same questions because we have a hard time comprehending that you really believed that you could possibly be selected as a council candidate while refusing to tell people what you actually believe in.
I understand that’s your position now and I won’t ask again.
No, Mark, we are not agreed that you are being asked for your personal view on the views of your clients.
You are – quite simply – being asked for your views on key policy issues of the day.
I really am beginning to wonder what the problem is that means you are having problems understanding this very basic point.
If you are unable to express views that bear in any way on views held by current or former clients, you REALLY shouldn’t be standing for elected office.
Okay, we are simply going in circles now. I have already addressed these points. I will only respond to new point’s now.
As and when I am a candidate for public office, which clearly I am not now, I will be setting out my views very clearly. They are entirely consistent with the views Labour are putting before local people, successfully time after time.
And please forgive the spurious apostrophe that my autocorrect added.
Thank you, Mark – that’s something new. You do subscribe to the Labour view on climate change and the New Party etc etc, but you can’t say so in public now while still a professional lobbyist..
I don’t know why you couldn’t have said / hinted at that ages ago. But thank you for (finally) making that clear now.
I suspect that you might not want to confirm that in public, but thank you.
I am getting rather bored of people saying, “so what you mean is……” and then challenging me to confirm or deny it. I have made my position clear and none of those of you who have tried to rephrase my views are correct
OK, let’s try a really easy one Mark: do you support the Planning Board’s decision (by 3-2) to approve the planning application for the construction of 21-storey tower blocks on the Arsenal estate, in what is currently Arsenal Park? A decision that Labour Cllr and Cabinet member John Fahy described as “not in the interests of Woolwich residents,” “not appropriate for that site,” as having “a detrimental effect on the view of the river from the town centre” and as “simply wrong”?
Another really easy one: do you support the Living Wage, and if so, do you believe that Greenwich Council should require all of its contractors and sub-contractors pay their staff a Living Wage?
If perchance Mr Adams was elected (to represent whom I’m not sure), any meetings he attended in which he was being asked to vote on decisions would be very elongated affairs as he would be spending so much time declaring his (clients) interests.
All perfectly legitimate questions, and the kind of questions I would expect candidates from all parties to make clear to the people they are expecting to elected them.
One reason I am puzzled that everyone is so interested in my view is that, if elected, I would be a elected as a Labour councillor, not as Mark Adams. Labour will have 51 candidates at the next election, united on almost all issues. In rare cases, there may be a good argument for individuals to deviate from agreed policy. I would expect all to make any differences clear to their electorate at the appropriate time. I certainly will although I have a strong suspicion I will choose a different vehicle for doing so than through this blog
Yet again, no answer, even to the softball questions.
There’s a very simple reason I’m asking, Mark: you claim that your views are “entirely consistent with the views Labour are putting before local people.”
I strongly suspect that your views are not, in fact, consistent with the views Labour are putting before local people.
You refuse to answer questions on key issues that you have been involved with very publicly, like climate change policy.
I am therefore asking you about very local issues by which you are unlikely to be commercially compromised, and which I hope will shed light on your actual views.
“Hello, Mark, would you like a cup of tea?”
“I’m afraid I can’t comment on that as I may or may not at some point represent a coffee maker. What I can say is that the tea served by Her Majesty’s Royal Borough of Regal Greenwich is the best in London, and far better than the dishwater served up around here by a disaffected ex-Green. And it would get here a lot quicker if we had another tunnel, even if the local residents can’t breathe,”
I think I understand this now.
That about sums it up. How can you trust someone who doesn’t give straight answers and may be representing people who may be acting in direct opposition to the interests of the community you’re supposed to be serving if in elected office.
To get biblical, no man can serve two masters.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa! Brilliant, ned, just brilliant!
Thanks Ned, best comment ever!
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