Foundation X

Thomas Jones

It's hard to know what to make of Lord James of Blackheath's bizarre speech in the House of Lords on Monday night, in which he said that he'd been approached by an anonymous and unfeasibly wealthy international organisation, Foundation X, which was offering billions of pounds to the British state to help it through the financial crisis. Mention of the Vatican's gold reserves and laundering money for the IRA under the approving eye of the Bank of England didn't make his story sound any more plausible. It's been suggested that he's either 'barmy' or the victim of a particularly audacious hoax. The situation he describes has been compared to the plot of a novel by Robert Ludlum, Dan Browne or John le Carré. But as with many conspiracy theories (or at least the interesting ones), beneath the curlicues and false arches there's a foundation of hard, rather prosaic fact. It's no secret that in the 1980s and 1990s, the government sold off a fair whack of the nation's assets to private and/or international buyers. Foundation X may not exist, but Tata Steel, Stagecoach and EDF most certainly do. Not that they've been much help to the British state, but then you can hardly expect a Tory peer to acknowledge that.


  • 3 November 2010 at 6:20pm
    mikederismith says:
    Most consider scam-group "the Office of International Treasury Control" to be responsible due to their similar recent offer of £50 billion to the Scottish government.

    They tried a similar thing in Fiji, and got much further with the con than one old lord.

  • 3 November 2010 at 7:02pm
    A.J.P. Crown says:
    Lord James of Blackheath and not Baroness James of Holland Park?

  • 3 November 2010 at 7:26pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    This was actually a genuine attempt by an honoured member of the Upper House to help out some old mates who have discovered billions of shrink-wrapped $100 bills that were distributed to worthy causes in Irak and now need a new home. The sums of money mentioned in your esteemed organ were itemised in a series of reports in 2004-5 by Ed Harriman, under the title of "where has all the money gone." Ed Harriman: On the Take in Iraq [7 July 2005 and an article the year before. So now you know.

  • 4 November 2010 at 5:19am
    pinhut says:
    "and laundering money for the IRA under the approving eye of the Bank of England didn’t make his story sound any more plausible."

    I thought this made it sound more plausible. What better institution to have onside? He has a history of rescuing failing enterprises who perhaps had little choice about where fresh injections of capital might come from.

    Foundation X may be hooey, but that would not make me discount out of hand some of his other disclosures.

  • 4 November 2010 at 7:57am
    A.J.P. Crown says:
    Yesterday's Guardian: America's central bank announced that it would pump an additional $600bn (£372bn) into the ailing US economy over the next eight months in an attempt to accelerate growth and cut unemployment.

    Apparently some people were expecting a trillion dollars, a million-million ($ 1,000,000,000,000), or $ 3,333 per citizen (citizen, not "taxpayer"). Do they always have this kind of money lying around or are they simply printing more?

    • 4 November 2010 at 1:58pm
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      The QE2, God bless her and all that fail in her.

  • 4 November 2010 at 8:48am
    A.J.P. Crown says:
    ...and I really enjoyed reading your Pynchon review, Call It Capitalism, that you link to. I'd somehow missed reading it the first time around. James Wood's letter at the end reminds me of Stefan Collini's recent remark about Trevor-Roper, But when you have AL Rowse, of all people, asking, "Why are you so nasty to people?", you should realise all is not well with your character.

  • 4 November 2010 at 9:05am
    Imperialist says:
    Was he approached by email? Will the money come from the estate of the former king of Zaire? Must the government first send £100 to a bank account in Lagos?

  • 6 November 2010 at 11:17am
    ckeys says:
    I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the idea that there is actually someone named "Lord Eatwell"

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