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Peter Geoghegan

Glasgow, United Kingdom
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About Peter
Peter Geoghegan is a journalist based in Glasgow, United Kingdom. His work has appeared in a wide range of newspapers and broadcast outlets including BBC Radio 4, CBC, RTE, ABC,  the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, the Scotsman, the Irish Times, the Times Higher Education, RTE, the London Review of Books, Al Jazeera, and the Christian Science Monitor.
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Business Politics Current Affairs

Democracy for Sale

10 May 2024  |  blackwells.co.uk
Democracy for Sale, a Sunday Times bestseller, is a meticulously researched account exposing the detrimental impact of secretive money, primarily from the US, and the weaponization of social media on British and European politics. The book details how outdated electoral laws are routinely flouted, lobbying covertly warps politics, and tech giants facilitate the erosion of democracy. It highlights the ease with which politicians spread lies via social media, influencing millions instantaneously. Peter Geoghegan serves as an insightful guide through the murky realms of dark money and digital disinformation, tracing their influence from Westminster to Washington and beyond. The book has received widespread acclaim for its thorough investigation and its significance in understanding the corruption undermining modern democracy.

European Super League: Doomed from the start

21 Apr 2024  |  dhakacourier.com.bd
The European Super League (ESL), which included major football clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United, was announced and quickly collapsed amid widespread criticism. Katie Perrior's firm iNHouse communications, which was hired just hours before the ESL's announcement, has been criticized for its handling of the PR. The ESL faced opposition from fans, journalists, and politicians, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The article also touches on Perrior's previous advisory role for Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, which has been linked to the Greensill Capital lobbying scandal. The ESL's announcement was seen as a tactical move by Europe's biggest clubs to demonstrate their power but spiraled out of control due to the negative response.

Revealed: Ex-Vote Leave lobbyist tries a rebrand - evading new transparency rules

27 Mar 2024  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
Westminster's All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are under scrutiny as new transparency rules are set to take effect. College Green Group, a political consultancy linked to the Conservative Party, has rebranded its APPGs as 'parliamentary liaison groups' to potentially evade these new regulations. Critics argue this move undermines efforts to improve accountability. The consultancy, run by Thomas Borwick, has faced previous controversies, including undisclosed funding for political ads. Transparency advocates call for a comprehensive statutory lobbying register to close loopholes and ensure greater oversight.

It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up

14 Mar 2024  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
Liz Truss's excessive spending on in-flight catering during a trip to Australia has sparked outrage, but a potentially larger scandal involves the Cabinet Office's handling of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The FOI response, requested by Labour's Emily Thornberry, was allegedly sent to Politico before Thornberry received it, raising concerns about government manipulation of FOI processes. The Cabinet Office denies these claims but has not commented publicly. The issue highlights ongoing concerns about government transparency and the integrity of the FOI system.

How Tories used dark money-funded report to undermine workers' rights

28 Feb 2024  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
The UK government's new 'check off' regulations, influenced by the corporate-funded think tank TaxPayers' Alliance, require public bodies to charge trade unions for payroll deduction of membership fees. Despite the government's own impact assessment acknowledging the lack of robust evidence and the policy's potential to generate only £1.5 million in savings, it was pushed through as part of the controversial Trade Union Act. Unions and some MPs have criticized the lack of formal consultation, and the move is seen as an attempt to weaken unions' funding streams. The TaxPayers' Alliance, known for its anonymity in funding and influence in British politics, has been cited as a significant contributor to the policy's formation.

Rule-breaking Tory MP takes cash from Russian-owned firm... again

27 Feb 2024  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
Conservative MP David Morris, previously found guilty of breaking parliamentary rules on paid lobbying, has accepted further donations from Aquind Ltd, a company with significant ties to the Conservative Party. Aquind, involved in a major electricity cable project between the UK and France, has donated over £500,000 to the party, with its directors also contributing large sums. The company's connections extend to several high-profile Conservative figures, including Alexander Temerko and James Wharton. The article highlights concerns over the influence of these donations on political decisions.

COP28: Meet the top UK politicians paid big to ‘advise’ oil rich Gulf states

11 Dec 2023  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
The COP28 climate conference in Dubai has been influenced by lobbying from oil and gas-producing countries, with former UK cabinet ministers and prime ministers receiving substantial payments for advising Gulf states that oppose fossil fuel phase-out. Lord Philip Hammond, Nadhim Zahawi, Francis Maude, and Tony Blair are among those who have profited from consultancy roles. The regulation of the UK's revolving door between politics and business is criticized, with calls for stricter lobbying bans for former politicians.

Penny Mordaunt received £10,000 donation from prominent climate denier’s firm

17 Nov 2023  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
Penny Mordaunt, leader of the House of Commons and a potential future Conservative leader, received a £10,000 donation from First Corporate Consultants Ltd, a company owned by a prominent climate denier. The donation was declared in the most recent Register of Members’ Interests.

The cost of Suella Braverman's Rwanda dream

15 Nov 2023  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
The Supreme Court is set to issue a decision on the UK government's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, a policy central to Conservative immigration strategy and closely associated with Suella Braverman. The scheme, initially unveiled by Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, faces a critical legal judgment that could impact its future implementation.

Exclusive: Windfall tax was changed after “intense” Big Oil lobbying

09 Nov 2023  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
The Treasury made significant changes to the windfall tax on oil and gas profits following intense lobbying by the fossil fuel industry. The energy profits levy was initially introduced after oil and gas prices surged due to the Ukraine war.

Revealed: Parliament’s ESG group bankrolled by firms who paid out billions for fraud, tax and environmental breaches

23 Oct 2023  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
A Parliamentary group promoting sustainable and ethical business practices is funded by companies that have paid billions in fines for fraud, tax evasion, and environmental breaches. The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has received significant funding from these companies, raising questions about the integrity and ethical standards of the group.

Michelle Mone is a symptom of a much deeper disease corrupting British politics

10 Oct 2023  |  www.linkedin.com
Michelle Mone's involvement in the PPE Medpro scandal, where she and her husband benefited from lucrative government contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic, exemplifies a broader issue of corruption within British politics. The Conservative government has been accused of awarding billions in contracts to politically connected individuals and companies, often bypassing standard procurement rules. This systemic issue extends beyond PPE contracts, with significant sums spent on initiatives like test and trace, and questionable political donations influencing elections. The article highlights the lack of accountability and the ongoing influence of money in politics, suggesting that such scandals are likely to continue under the current system.

The new free market ‘taskforce’ is almost entirely made up of senior figures from US and UK think tanks who have been funded by fossil fuels, climate change deniers, and more.

05 Oct 2023  |  DeSmog
A new free market taskforce is predominantly composed of senior figures from US and UK think tanks, which have received funding from fossil fuel interests and climate change deniers, raising concerns about their influence and agenda.

Firms that were fined billions fund ethical business group in the Commons

01 Oct 2023  |  www.thetimes.co.uk
A parliamentary group promoting sustainable and ethical business practices is funded by companies like KPMG, BAE Systems, and Bayer, which have collectively paid billions in fines for regulatory breaches. The group, chaired by Conservative MP Alexander Stafford, has received significant funding despite the companies' controversial histories. KPMG recently faced a record £21 million fine for its auditing work on Carillion. The article raises questions about the ethical implications of such funding.

Tony Blair and Sadiq Khan speak at ‘Tobacco allies’ summit

15 Sep 2023  |  democracyforsale.substack.com
Tony Blair, Sadiq Khan, Nick Clegg, and David Milliband are set to speak at the Concordia Summit in New York, an event funded by the tobacco industry. The summit is described as a leading public-private sector forum.

British political giving is increasingly dominated by the rich – it’s a system ripe for abuse

10 Jul 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
British political parties, especially the Conservatives, are increasingly funded by a small number of wealthy individuals, raising concerns about the influence of money on politics. The Tories received over £14m in the first quarter of the year, with a significant donation from Mohamed Mansour. Labour, while still supported by unions, is also courting private donors, with Keir Starmer's Rose Network gaining traction. The reliance on private funding, coupled with the UK's outdated electoral laws, creates a system vulnerable to abuse, preferential access, and policy influence by donors. The article suggests that a cap on donations could mitigate these issues, but there is little indication that such reform is forthcoming.

British political giving is increasingly dominated by the rich – it’s a system ripe for abuse

10 Jul 2023  |  the Guardian
The upcoming UK general election is expected to be the most expensive in British history, with significant sums already being donated to political parties. The Conservative Party, led by Rishi Sunak, has received substantial donations from a small group of wealthy individuals, including a record £5m from Mohamed Mansour. Labour, under Keir Starmer, is also aggressively courting private donors, with notable contributions from figures like Gary Lubner and Francesca Perrin. The article highlights concerns about the influence of money on politics, the potential for cronyism, and the outdated nature of UK electoral laws. It suggests that a cap on donations could help curb these issues, but such a measure seems unlikely in the current political climate.

Short Cuts: At NatCon London

01 Jun 2023  |  www.lrb.co.uk
The National Conservatism Conference in London, organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation, featured prominent British politicians and international conservative figures. The event highlighted the growing influence of far-right ideologies, with discussions on nationalism, anti-woke sentiments, and traditionalism. Key speakers included Suella Braverman, Michael Gove, and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The conference underscored the ideological divide within the Conservative Party and the potential shift towards a more radical right-wing agenda. The article critically examines the funding sources and transnational connections of the National Conservatism movement, raising concerns about its impact on British politics.

Why are so many Tory MPs able to get filthy rich? Because we let them

11 Nov 2021  |  the Guardian
The article discusses the issue of British MPs, particularly from the Conservative Party, holding lucrative second jobs and the historical and current lack of stringent regulations to prevent potential conflicts of interest. It highlights several instances where MPs have earned significant sums through external engagements and criticizes the government for not upholding ethical standards in public life. The piece suggests that the problem is systemic within the Conservative Party and reflects a broader issue of money's influence in British politics.

UK election laws are broken – but voter ID will solve nothing

23 May 2021  |  www.thenational.scot
The article criticizes the UK government's push for mandatory voter ID, arguing it addresses a non-existent problem and disproportionately affects disadvantaged voters. It highlights the Conservative Party's history of electoral manipulation and the ineffectiveness of the Electoral Commission. The author suggests that true electoral reform, such as a proportional voting system, is needed to improve British democracy, but the government is unlikely to pursue it as it benefits from the current system.

Little England’s big COVID problem

11 Oct 2020  |  Jordan Times
The UK, particularly England, is facing a severe testing capacity issue in controlling COVID-19, as evidenced by a letter from Public Health England advising against testing children without specific symptoms. This reflects broader governance and accountability failures, including the privatization of the NHS Test and Trace service and a decade of austerity impacting public services. The pandemic has disproportionately affected the most deprived and minority communities. Political decisions, such as Brexit and the government's reluctance to coordinate with the EU, have exacerbated the situation. The government's narrative of a 'world-beating' response is contradicted by the evidence, and critics have faced accusations of being unpatriotic. The UK's high COVID-19 death rate and insufficient flu vaccine stocks are further signs of mismanagement, with the government attempting to shift blame away from its own policies.

With dark money and disinformation the 2020 US election can never truly be democratic

25 Sep 2020  |  inews.co.uk
American democracy faces significant challenges due to declining trust in government, political division, and instability. The 2020 US election is heavily influenced by dark money and disinformation, with both major parties raising unprecedented funds. Social media platforms like Facebook are criticized for enabling the spread of false information. The article argues for regulatory measures to curb the influence of tech giants and political funding to restore trust in democracy.

Adventures in Brexitland

10 Sep 2020  |  www.lrb.co.uk
The UK government's proposed Internal Market Bill aims to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, particularly the Northern Ireland protocol, causing significant controversy. The bill has faced criticism from former Prime Ministers Theresa May and John Major, as well as from within the Conservative Party. The EU is considering legal action, and the move has strained diplomatic relations, especially with Ireland. The article questions the motives and effectiveness of Boris Johnson's administration, highlighting internal party conflicts and the potential long-term implications of the bill.

Ireland can't afford to ignore the danger of dark money

22 Aug 2020  |  independent.ie
Peter Geoghegan discusses the sophisticated ways the super-rich influence politics, drawing parallels with the Brexit vote and Trump's election, and highlights the potential threat to Irish democracy.

The reek of corruption in British politics will fuel discontent with democracy

21 Aug 2020  |  the Guardian
The article discusses the pervasive corruption in British politics, highlighting how former politicians like Sajid Javid and Theresa May have taken lucrative jobs in the private sector, raising concerns about the influence of money and corporate interests. It criticizes the Conservative Party for its close ties with businesses and the ineffectiveness of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) in preventing conflicts of interest. The article suggests that such corruption fuels public discontent with democracy and calls for reforms, such as banning MPs from taking second jobs, to restore trust in the political system.

Tories' dark money

11 Aug 2020  |  www.abc.net.au
Secret money in the thinktank world has allowed corporate funders and small groups of ideologues to exert significant influence from Westminster to Washington. Peter Geoghegan explores how dark money has undermined democratic mechanisms.

Death by dark money: The Americanization of British democracy

06 Aug 2020  |  www.politico.eu
British politics is increasingly influenced by private money, with small amounts able to buy significant access and influence. The Conservative Party, in particular, has become reliant on a small number of pro-Brexit donors, with nearly one-fifth of leading donors receiving honors after contributing. The Labour Party, while still largely dependent on trade unions and smaller donors, has seen some private money return under Keir Starmer. The article suggests that the U.K. is being 'Americanized' with dark money and dodgy data playing a growing role in politics, and calls for reforms to protect democracy from easily bought influence.

Firm with links to Gove and Cummings given Covid-19 contract without open tender

10 Jul 2020  |  the Guardian
The Cabinet Office awarded an £840,000 contract to Public First, a company with ties to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings, without a competitive tender. The contract, intended for Covid-19 related focus group research, was justified under emergency regulations. However, records show some work was related to Brexit. The Good Law Project is challenging the contract's legality, citing apparent bias. The government defends the decision, attributing discrepancies to bookkeeping methods. Critics, including Rachel Reeves, demand transparency and justification for the contract award.

From face masks to Trump: Facebook’s willingness to tolerate political disinformation puts our health at risk

10 Jul 2020  |  inews.co.uk
Facebook faces criticism for allowing political disinformation, which poses risks to democracy and public health. Despite some efforts to combat Covid-19 misinformation, the platform's tolerance for false political ads remains a concern. The article highlights the role of social media in spreading falsehoods, the impact on public perception, and the potential consequences for health measures like vaccination. Key figures like Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump, and Jair Bolsonaro are scrutinized for their roles in this issue.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Former British Colony Scorned

02 Dec 2017  |  Foreign Policy
Brexit negotiations have hit a significant hurdle with Ireland, as the Irish government holds a veto over the progress of talks due to concerns about the Irish border. The border, currently invisible due to regulatory equivalence, could see the return of customs checks if no agreement is reached. This has strained Anglo-Irish relations, with public disagreements between officials and media rhetoric exacerbating tensions. The Irish government, led by Leo Varadkar, demands no regulatory divergence post-Brexit, a promise the UK is unlikely to make. The situation is further complicated by the political dynamics within Ireland and Northern Ireland, with potential impacts on peace and economic stability.

Does Theresa May Actually Care About Keeping the Kingdom United?

20 Apr 2017  |  Foreign Policy
Theresa May's commitment to keeping the United Kingdom united is questioned, as her actions, particularly the decision to call a general election, suggest a focus on consolidating Conservative power rather than addressing regional concerns. The article highlights the growing political and constitutional tensions in Scotland and Northern Ireland, exacerbated by Brexit and May's perceived indifference to regional demands. The potential for increased nationalist sentiment and the weakening of the union is discussed, with historical references to previous political dynamics under leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Clippings from Politico Europe.

The End of the Scottish Press?

21 Apr 2016  |  www.lrb.co.uk
The article examines the decline of the Scottish press, focusing on the financial struggles and editorial challenges faced by major newspapers like the Herald and the Scotsman. It highlights the influence of commercial interests, particularly from Rangers, on editorial decisions and the resulting job losses and reduced quality of journalism. The rise of pro-independence websites and the SNP's relationship with the media are also discussed, emphasizing the uncertain future of Scotland's national media amidst political and economic pressures.

Glasgow, the Day After a Massacre

09 May 2015  |  Foreign Policy
The Scottish National Party (SNP) achieved a historic victory in the general election, dramatically altering Scotland's political landscape and nearly sweeping all seats. Labour, traditionally dominant in Scotland, suffered significant losses, retaining only one seat. The SNP's success reflects a broader desire for change and has implications for the future of the United Kingdom, including potential increased calls for Scottish independence. The Conservative Party, despite winning a majority in the UK, remains unpopular in Scotland, complicating relations and raising questions about the union's future. Labour faces significant challenges in regaining its former influence.

A 20-Year-Old Scottish Student Could Be About to Make History

06 May 2015  |  www.vice.com
Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old Glasgow University student and Scottish National Party candidate, could become the youngest Member of Parliament since 1667 if elected in Paisley and South Renfrewshire. The surge in political engagement among young Scots, sparked by the independence referendum, has led to a significant number of them running for Parliament. Labour's long-standing dominance in Paisley is challenged by the SNP's rising popularity, with polls suggesting a potential SNP victory. Other young candidates like Fraser Galloway, Liam McLoughlin, and Braden Davy also reflect the increased political involvement post-referendum, with varying prospects in their respective constituencies.

Scotland's Revenge

28 Apr 2015  |  Foreign Policy
Scotland's political landscape is undergoing a significant shift as the Scottish National Party (SNP) gains momentum ahead of the UK general election. Despite losing the independence referendum, the SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, is poised to win a substantial number of seats, potentially becoming kingmakers in a hung Parliament. This surge threatens the dominance of the Labour Party in Scotland and raises the possibility of another independence referendum. The SNP's rise is attributed to widespread disenchantment with established parties and a strong pro-independence sentiment among Scots.

How Labour Lost Ground to the Scottish National Party

27 Apr 2015  |  www.vice.com
The Scottish National Party (SNP) is gaining ground in Scotland at the expense of the Labour Party, which has long been the dominant political force. Labour's decline is attributed to its alliance with the Conservatives against Scottish independence and the resulting label of 'Red Tories.' The SNP, with only six MPs to Labour's 40, is now poised to win a majority of Scotland's 59 Westminster seats. The SNP's appeal to former Labour supporters is based on promises to end austerity and raise the minimum wage more than Labour. The article highlights individual stories of former Labour supporters who now back the SNP, as well as the broader political shifts in Scotland.

Living in the Shadows of Glasgow's High-Rise Ghettos Before They Get Blown Up

28 Jan 2015  |  www.vice.com
Residents of Glasgow, including Betty and Alec Caw, are awaiting the demolition of the Red Road flats, a high-rise development once celebrated but now seen as an eyesore and a symbol of urban decay. Despite initial plans to demolish five of the six towers during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, public outrage led to the cancellation of the event. Glasgow Housing Association aims to clear the site by 2017, but progress has been slow, frustrating locals. The flats' decline is attributed to social and architectural neglect, with some former residents like Finlay McKay questioning the cost and pace of demolition, while others like artist Mitch Miller reflect on the mixed legacy of Glasgow's high-rise housing.

Scottish Independence Activists Want Catalonia to Break Away from Spain

10 Nov 2014  |  www.vice.com
Scottish independence activists, including Norman Todd and Martin Urquhart, visited Catalonia to support the region's symbolic poll on independence from Spain. Despite the Spanish courts blocking an official referendum, around 80 percent of the over two million Catalans who voted favored independence. Scottish and Catalan nationalists share common cause, with activists from both regions supporting each other's independence movements. Differences between the movements include the leading role of civil society in Catalonia versus the Scottish National Party's leadership in Scotland. Catalan nationalists are seeking a strong leader like Scotland's Alex Salmond, with some seeing Oriol Junqueras i Vies as a potential figure. The article also mentions the positive view some Catalans have of David Cameron for allowing the Scottish referendum.

The Scottish Question Has Not Been Answered

26 Sep 2014  |  Foreign Policy
The aftermath of Scotland's independence referendum continues to shape political discourse, with significant focus on further devolution and the promises made by UK parties. Alex Salmond's resignation and the surge in SNP membership highlight ongoing political mobilization. Divisions among UK parties on devolution plans, particularly regarding tax-raising powers, complicate the path forward. Labour faces internal challenges and potential leadership changes, while concerns about Westminster's ability to deliver on devolution promises fuel pro-independence sentiment. The political landscape in Scotland remains in flux, with potential for significant changes in party dynamics and voter mobilization.

If a Clod Be Washed Away by the Sea, Europe Is the Less

16 Sep 2014  |  Foreign Policy
The island of Lewis, part of Scotland's Western Isles, is experiencing a significant moment as it prepares to vote on independence from the United Kingdom. The community is divided, with strong campaigns from both the Yes and No sides. Key issues include economic impacts, local autonomy, and cultural identity. Prominent figures like Alasdair Allan and Brian Wilson express their views, highlighting the potential consequences for local industries such as Harris Tweed. The outcome of the referendum will determine whether Scotland remains in the union or becomes Europe's newest state, with implications for local governance and economic stability.

Glasgow's Poor Are Fighting For a Fairer Scotland

27 Aug 2014  |  www.vice.com
In Easterhouse, Glasgow, residents are showing strong support for Scottish independence, with 76% indicating a 'Yes' vote in a recent survey. The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) is actively engaging the community, highlighting the potential for social justice and economic improvement in an independent Scotland. Despite progress in the area, social issues persist, and the referendum is seen as a beacon of hope for change. Traditional Labour supporters and politicians like Jim Murphy express skepticism, emphasizing economic and political concerns over national identity. The article captures the local sentiment and the political energy in Easterhouse, suggesting that the independence movement could lead to increased political engagement and challenges to the status quo.

Return of the Troubles

20 Dec 2012  |  Foreign Policy
Rising tensions in Northern Ireland have led to renewed violence and political unrest, with incidents such as death threats and shootings highlighting the fragility of the region's peace. The Good Friday Agreement, while successful in reducing large-scale violence, has also contributed to the polarization of politics, benefiting extreme parties like Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party. The region remains deeply divided, with significant social and economic challenges exacerbating the situation. The current unrest is driven by disenfranchised communities, particularly among young people, and underscores the need for a more inclusive political framework to prevent extremists from dictating Northern Ireland's future.

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