People against sugar tax, my arse

‘People Against Sugar Tax’ are corporate astroturf: right wing PR pros, some long term defenders of the tobacco industry, pretending to be something else. You can donate. You can even work for them if you fancy tweeting health busting corporate propaganda for no pay. This is a quick post looking at who these ‘people’ really are.

From day one, it has been our mission to be a grassroots campaignsay the Executive Board. Then blurting hilariously non-grassroots corporate verbosity likeOur management structure and business reporting process promotes accountability and knowledge sharing across People against Sugar Tax, ensuring a responsiveness to issues within the business“. The business?

We’re not funded by any food or drinks companies. We’re on your sidesays their Twitter profile. Yet they suggest you mail a £10 donation cheque to their office in frightfully swanky Mayfair. Quite literally a world away from grassroots.

Businesses should be “left alone”. Health campaigners are “confused” and aim to “ban everything”. It’s “control feakery that will hurt the poor”. It is “anti-business”. And so on.

Fake grassroots campaigns are a familiar route for big business to consolidate sales. A method openly advocated by people behind this sugar campaign, and a method tried and tested by these very same people in previous campaigns to defend tobacco industry.

The ‘people’ behind this campaign, all free-market enthusiasts from the persuasion industries, are Alex Deane, Chris Snowdon, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Emily Barley and Brook Whelan. Whelan was a tory politician now in ‘communications’. Rees-Mogg (yes, Jacob’s sister) tried to be a tory politician and is a journalist. Barley is a ‘communications consultant’ and chair of Conservatives for Liberty. Deane and Snowden deserve a little more attention.

Alex Deane

Alex Deane was an advisor to David Cameron. He now works in corporate PR for global FTI Consulting. He is a pro banker-bonus, City-Of-London-Corporation man who was instrumental in getting Boris Johnson on board with the Leave EU campaign. He can organise you a rent-a-mob to confront universities or councils and he employs ex-Labour Minister Patricia Hewitt to allegedly promote fracking.

In 2011, working for PR giants Bell-Pottinger, Deane openly advocated PR pros should create campaign organisations (and think tanks) to sway opinion. He did exactly that, to defend his tobacco industry clients. He still retweets in defence of vaping.

Chris Snowdon

Chris Snowdon is a pro-smoking veteran having campaigned in numerous publications from Spiked to tobacco industry blogs, from the Telegraph to tobacco funded Adam Smith institute.

He is currently employed by the Institute for Economics Affairs, another think tank funded by the tobacco industry.

Snowdon’s name has been removed from the People Against Sugar Tax web site but can be found in the archive. He constantly tweets and blogs on the subject. He travels the world to fight taxes on sugar.

On C4 News Snowdon accepted his sugar report research methodology was flawed and he declined to deny he benefited from food industry funding.