A document recording the deliberations of British Council senior managers last month has come my way. Dated May 19th, it gives the names of those present and records that Martin Davidson, the organisation’s “Chief Executive”, was on the call. It’s about the FCO’s perceptions, the BC’s “engagement”, their job security, and their money. It also refers to, ho-ho, avoiding “LSE moments” (and if the BC actually has avoided an LSE moment it’s something of a fluke given the extent to which it used public money to suck up to Saif-El-Islam Gaddafi ; perhaps rather than crowing about “LSE moments” the organisation would like to come clean about that to Lord Woolf’s enquiry?).
Meanwhile look at the first sentence of the section headed “Partnerships and Business Development” reproduced in full (we have redacted a couple of names):
“There are concerns, and indeed confusion, around the extent to which we have to worry about accusations of unfair play when we seek to integrate our grant funded and FCR funded services”… “Martin’s view was that even if we did change the funding model, it would not stop accusations of unfair play (after all who will be looking at the minutiae of our accounts).These accusations likely to increase.”
Too bloody right they are. Martin Davidson (like his predecessor and his former chair Lord Kinnock) has given evidence to parliamentary committees to the effect that there is no possibility of grant-funded and FCR funded services touching each other, that they are completely separate. “ we ensure through a clear firewall, that there is no subsidy of our teaching or other operations from the grant”. (see Q9).
It is significant that nobody present at this meeting thought to address the actual issue of unfair competition, or why it matters. Rather the dialogue recorded simply confirms that unfair competition from the British Council is an organised fact. They refer to the integration of grant-funded and FCR funded English services. As Davidson says, who is going to look into the minutiae of their accounts? Not even the NAO presumably, which ignored the reservations of Lord Carter of Coles, and for years has gone along with the charade of the British Council “firewall”.
Voici la preuve. Here, on the record, a dozen senior British Council managers, grant-funded themselves of course and thus in clear contempt of any mythical firewall, discuss how they will “monetize their digital offer”, “grow FCR contracts”, “grow sponsorships… English and exams”, while embedding an understanding of the” trickier legal issues”. We all know why the BC continues with this deceit; quite simply if the playing field were level the organisation would disappear. But as taxpayers, subsidising unfair state competition against genuine enterprise at home and abroad, we have an absolute right to know why the FCO, the NAO, the Cabinet Office, the FAC, the PAC, the Charity Commission, the Competition Commission and all the rest do nothing to put this shabby house in order, put a stop to this abuse of public money, and institute proper democratic accountability.