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Is The Muslim Brotherhood Spinning Spinwatch?

This is a cross post by Paul Stott

Earlier this week Harry’s Place reported on the recent meeting between President Obama and the Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, which was attended by a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure in Britain  – Anas al-Tikriti.  One thing missing from the analysis was the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood, via al-Tikiriti’s Cordoba Foundation, has been seeking to pursue its politico-religious objectives in the United Kingdom, developing support and influence on the political left.

One route for this has been via Public Interest Investigations (PII) an organisation with two elements, Spinwatch and  Powerbase. Spinwatch is a well respected website, best known for its work on the dangers of corporate lobbying, and has had some profile on the British left, via figures such as Prof David Miller, Tom Griffin, Hilary Aked and also Tom Mills of the New Left Project. Spinwatch styles itself thus:

“Spinwatch investigates the way that the public relations (PR) industry and corporate and government propaganda distort public debate and undermine democracy. The PR and lobbying industry in the UK is the second biggest in the world, worth £7.5 billion. As the go-to organisation for information on this field, we routinely track PR and lobbying firms and corporate front groups, exposing their spin and deception”

This is reinforced by the bold statement that “Our core concern is in promoting equality and protecting fundamental human and democratic rights”

Since 2010, Spinwatch has received a total of £10,000 in funding from Anas al-Tikriti’s Cordoba Foundation. I shall leave it to others to judge the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood believes in equality, democracy and human rights, although its record in and out of power, in Egypt speaks for itself, and that is before we even consider the record of Brotherhood influenced groups in areas such as Gaza. So – what does the Cordoba Foundation gain from Spinwatch?

In 2011 Spinwatch published the hardly understated “Cold War on Britain’s Muslim’s: An Examination of Policy Exchange and The Centre for Social Cohesion” – two organisations who had long warned against Muslim Brotherhood influence in the United Kingdom. The extent to which the piper called the tune is unknown, but the advantages of getting others to defend the MB (and by implication the Cordoba Foundation) from domestic critics, and to have non-Muslims place such criticism in the ever widening category of Islamophobia, appear obvious. The document was sponsored by the Cordoba Foundation, and funded by them to the tune of £5000, with Anas al-Tikriti thanked for his generosity (p.53). The praise lavished on former Metropolitan  Police Special Branch manager Bob Lambert, on the same page, has not stood the test of time well.

Last year Spinwatch stepped up to the plate again, publishing a report entitled “The British Israel Communications and Research Centre: Giving Peace a Chance?” This time the Cordoba Foundation and al-Tikriti went unmentioned, with Memo Middle East Monitor sharing the billing with Spinwatch, and providing the now standard £5000 in cash. Here the Muslim Brotherhood connection is however maintained – MEMO is led by Muslim Brotherhood supporter  Daud Abdullah, and the man himself joined the report’s authors for one its launch meetings.

Spinwatch’s staff also seem to be revving up in another direction – taking on the alcohol industry. For this, David Miller has obtained funding the European Commission, (as the declaration of interest at the bottom of this article reveals) although one can’t help thinking on this issue at least, if our masters in Brussels had not coughed up, the Muslim Brotherhood would.

In evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee on 6 March 2012, Prof Miller stated of corporations:

“when corporations want to pursue changes in laws or pursue particular contracts, they adopt a whole panoply of measures, including party funding, yes, including lobbying and also including buying up ex-Ministers or civil servants as part of their strategy.”

He is 100% correct. All we need now is an organisation, some activists or even academics willing to look in the same way at the lobbying of international politico-religious organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

As the old saying goes I’m free. My concern is that Spinwatch has already been paid for.

Paul Stott is an academic based at the University of East Anglia.