Tag Archives: FT

FT refuses to publish anti-Shell ad

An Amnesty International ad critical of Shell’s appalling record in the Niger Delta was pulled at the last minute by the Financial Times. It had been due to appear on Tuesday, the day of Shell’s annual general meeting.

Amnesty had the following to say on its website:

The advertisement focused on the appalling human rights record of Shell in Nigeria. It compared the company’s $9.8bn profits with the consequences of pollution caused by the oil giant for the people of the Niger Delta.

Numerous oil spills, which have not been adequately cleaned up, have left local communities with little option but to drink polluted water, eat contaminated fish, farm on spoiled land, and breathe in air that stinks of oil and gas.

Tim Hancock, Amnesty International UK’s campaigns director, said:

“The decision by the Financial Times is extremely disappointing. We gave them written reassurances that we would take full responsibility for the comments and opinions stated in the advertisement.

“Both The Metro and The Evening Standard had no problems with running the ad.”

Tim Hancock added:

“The money to pay for the advertisements came entirely from more than 2,000 individuals online, who we’d asked to fund an ad campaign targeting Shell’s AGM – and it really caught their imagination. And I am sure these supporters will share with us our sense of deep disappointment.”

Amnesty International also today launched a new hard-hitting online video focusing on Shell’s illegal practice of gas flaring (the burning of gas produced as part of oil extraction) in the same region. Gas flaring is only serving to add to environmental impact on the people of the Niger Delta.

As Roy Greenslade at the Guardian says, it’s difficult to fathom the FT‘s motives. A spokesman on behalf of the newspaper told the Press Gazette: “Editorially the FT was more than willing to run the advertisement for Amnesty. Unfortunately, whilst Amnesty gave us written assurances that they would take full responsibility for the comments and opinions stated in the advertisement, it became apparent that Amnesty’s lawyers had not had a proper opportunity to advise Amnesty on those opinions. As a result, from a legal perspective we were unable to rely on Amnesty’s assurances.”

But as Greenslade points out:

The blogger, Padraig Reidy, writes: “It’s extremely unlikely that Shell would sue. The company is quite keen on promoting its social credentials, and even a successful trip to court would more than likely involve an unpleasant trawl through the unfortunate effects of the oil industry.”

He then asks: “Was it a commercial decision? Again, who knows? Big oil companies tend not to be so thin-skinned that they would pull money from a prestige publication such as the FT merely because it had carried a critical advert.”

For a paper which claims to publish “without fear and without favour”, its refusal to print Amnesty’s ad is hugely disappointing.

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Why the Tories should win

Tomorrow Britain votes in what will be one of the most uncertain, exciting elections in decades. It will be a poll that willl shape the nation’s future, helping to determine what kind of response to its economic woes and social challenges the general public want.

Labour must go. The party’s obsessive enlargement of the state has increased dependence, stymied initiative and led to a ballooning deficit. Riven with internal conflict and petty power plays, the party has failed to provide convincing arguments as to why this tired movement deserves to continue to govern Britain.

The Liberal Democrats take a laudable stance on civil liberties. Their pleas for constitutional reform are understandable (although scrapping the first-past-the-post system and implementing pure proportional representation in its place, as they suggest, is not the answer either). But the junior party’s ideas on immigration are naive, its stance on Europe sycophantic, and its economic policy sheer lunacy.

I want the Conservatives to win. I believe they are the only party that has the verve, intellectual energy and the ideas to tackle the challenges the UK faces. Over the past four years, David Cameron has proved capable of reforming and revitalising his party. As prime minister, I believe he could do the same to his country.

His vision of a Big Society in which individual liberties are respected, enterprise is stimulated and personal responsibility is upheld is a compelling one. He also seems the most willing to face up to the task of curbing the UK’s massive deficit, something which Labour doesn’t seem to have the stomach to do, or Lib-Dems the capacity.

But enough said. Recently, both the Financial Times and The Economist — two publications that have broadly similar values to my own — explained why they are endorsing the Conservatives for this election. To understand why I believe the Conservatives deserve to win this critical election, read the FT‘s endorsement here and The Economist‘s here.

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Zuma – Mugabe’s messenger

According to the Financial Times, President Zuma will ask the UK to drop its targeted sanctions against key figures in Robert Mugabe’s kleptocracy. EU and US sanctions have been a serious inconvenience to the opulent, tax-funded lifestyles of the Zanu PF — it’s little wonder why it’s screaming for them to be dropped.

Zuma apparently argues that the sanctions are standing as an impediment to the implementation of the Global Provisional Agreement, the plan which sets out the coalition deal signed between Zimbabwean parties last year. I personally believe Zanu PF would obstruct implementation of the agreement regardless of whether sanctions were in place or not — and that the moaning about sanctions is merely an excuse for Zanu PF’s contempt for the GPA’s obligations — which require a respect for human rights and a relinquishing of illicit power.

The cynic in me says Zuma’s merely doing this as a favour for a “friend”. Sadly, it would seem that the bonds between the ANC and Zanu PF — ironically both considered “liberation movements” in their day — seem to strong. It is this relationship that has rendered South Africa’s approach to Zimbabwe pathetically reprehensible and completely ineffective.

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Don’t screw things up — Manuel

In an interview with the Financial Times, Trevor Manuel exhorts the ANC’s new leftwing leadership not to destroy his legacy by throwing caution to the wind with regards to public spending.

The paper quotes him as saying:

“We need to disabuse people of the notion that we will have a mighty powerful developmental state capable of planning and creating all manner of employment.”

Now the lefties just need to realise that….

Read the FT‘s article here.

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