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We must find out the truth of this situation.
November 3, 2010 5:49 AM   Subscribe

For the past 20 weeks I have been engaged in a very strange dialogue with the two noble Lords, in the course of which I have been trying to bring to their attention the willing availability of a strange organisation which wishes to make a great deal of money available to assist the recovery of the economy in this country. For want of a better name, I shall call it foundation X.

Something very peculiar recently happened in the British House of Lords. Spotted by observant Livejournallers in Hansard (the UK's permanent record of what is said in both the Commons and the Lords) and brought to the Internet's attention by Metafilter's own Charlie Stross, this exceptionally strange, rambling speech by Lord James of Blackheath (starts at Column 1538) is summarised by Charlie with the question:
"Did a not-obviously-insane member of the government — a corporate troubleshooter and Conservative life peer — really just stand up in the House of Lords and announce that a shadowy Foundation (that might or might not represent the Vatican) was offering the British government an investment of umpty-billion pounds in order to reboot the economy — free, gratis, with no strings attached? "
The critical portion from Lord James of Blackheath's speech:
"Foundation X is saying at this moment that it is prepared to put up the entire £5 billion for the funding of the three Is [Investment In Industry] recreation; the British Government can have the entire independent management and control of it-foundation X does not want anything to do with it; there will be no interest charged; and, by the way, if the British Government would like it as well, if it will help, it will be prepared to put up money for funding hospitals, schools, the building of Crossrail immediately with £17 billion transfer by Christmas, if requested, and all these other things. These things can be done, if wished, but a senior member of the Government has to accept the invitation to a phone call to the chairman of foundation X-and then we can get into business. This is too big an issue. I am just an ageing, obsessive old Peer and I am easily dispensable, but getting to the truth is not. We need to know what really is happening here. We must find out the truth of this situation.
posted by Happy Dave (65 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Turns out, all England has to do is send £35 million in processing fees to a bank in Nigeria and the check for £17 billion will arrive by Christmas or New Years Eve at the latest.
posted by straight at 5:58 AM on November 3, 2010 [28 favorites]


i wish america had a branch of government that was all celebrities. weird shit like this would happen daily!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:59 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, this is my surprised face.
posted by fullerine at 5:59 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I made the phone call to my noble friend Lord Strathclyde on a Sunday afternoon-I think he was sitting on his lawn, poor man-and he did the quickest ball pass that I have ever witnessed. If England can do anything like it at Twickenham on Saturday, we will have a chance against the All Blacks.

This speech is filled with gems.
posted by djgh at 6:12 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


"not-obviously-insane"

Given that he thinks that England can beat New Zealand at rugby on Saturday, I'm not so sure about that.

[On preview, damn you djgh].

The commentator on Antipope who notes that he recently had a stroke may be on to something. The man is 73, I'm putting this down to aging and mental health issues.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:15 AM on November 3, 2010


His Wikipedia entry contains a few interesting items as well, notably an involvement in the Iraqi Supergun affair.
posted by djgh at 6:17 AM on November 3, 2010


I found myself between a rock and a hard place that were totally paranoid about each other, because the foundation X people have an amazing obsession with their own security. They expect to be contacted only by someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world.

a) I'm indescribably astonished that someone in the House of Lords used the phrase 'between a rock and a hard place that were totally paranoid about each other'. Do the noble lords all have massive bongs?

b) Who gives out the international security ratings to the top 6 people in the world? Wouldn't the people giving them out need to have an even higher rating?
posted by Mocata at 6:24 AM on November 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


So, 1534 to 2010...Man, talk about your long-term planning.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


b) Who gives out the international security ratings to the top 6 people in the world? Wouldn't the people giving them out need to have an even higher rating?

Not if five of them unanimously voted to give one out to the sixth. C'mon, give the lizard people some credit; they've thought these things through.
posted by cmonkey at 6:30 AM on November 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah but it seems like a bit of a waste of your internationally secure time to be doing admin stuff like that.
posted by Mocata at 6:33 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


If there's any agency capable of identifying the top 6 people in the world, it would be the MeFi Agency for Informed Speculation (MAIS). I'm at a loss here, please let me know who they are.
"Someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world"

Also, I'm with djgh and I'm going to find as many speeches of Lord James of Blackheath as possible.
posted by ouke at 6:42 AM on November 3, 2010


I swear there's a Cthulu novel that starts just like this....
posted by Theta States at 6:48 AM on November 3, 2010


If there's any agency capable of identifying the top 6 people in the world, it would be the MeFi Agency for Informed Speculation (MAIS). I'm at a loss here, please let me know who they are.

The President of the USA
The Secretary-General of the UN
The Prime Minister of China
The Chairman of the Bilderberg Group (or is it the Trilateral Commission?)
mathowie
Lady Gaga
posted by Electric Dragon at 6:57 AM on November 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


How... odd. I think Charlie has it right, it does sound like something written by Robert Ludlum.
posted by salmacis at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2010


I swear there's a Cthulu novel

Cthulu writes novels? Are they all just like the last scene in Heart Of Darkness except 500 pages long and instead of pondering the abyss you physically fall into the pages and end up screaming in all caps forever? Are they self-published e-books or did those foolhardy jerks at Tor give him a book deal?

Speculative Metafiction category.

and other jokes along these lines.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:01 AM on November 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


the top 6 people in the world

My intelligence may be slightly out of date, but it's actually 5, not 6:

The Queen
The Vatican
The Gettys
The Rothschilds
Col Sanders (before he went tits up)
posted by Zippity Goombah at 7:08 AM on November 3, 2010 [11 favorites]


I swear there's a Cthulu novel that starts just like this....

This whole thing is a false flag by cstross as part of some kind of pre-release audience testing for the plot of the next Laundry novel!

WE SEE THROUGH YOU STROSS.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:09 AM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ouke: here's a good place to start.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:11 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear God, read his speech on immigration. How to speak for a long time in Parliament without saying anything relevant (while mentioning Goering having sex with a kangaroo).
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:13 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Col Sanders (before he went tits up)

No, he didn't. They turned him into a Cyborg.
posted by Mcable at 7:27 AM on November 3, 2010


I have handled billions of pounds of terrorist money... My biggest terrorist client was the IRA and I am pleased to say that I managed to write off more than £1 billion of its money. I have also had extensive connections with north African terrorists, but that was of a far nastier nature, and I do not want to talk about that because it is still a security issue.

Wasn't that just admission of a major crime, managing IRA funds? It seems to pass without comment. That sort of thing has ended in long prison sentences, has it not? It's nice that he handles IRA money in a fiducially appropriate manner, but that doesn't stop it from being IRA money. That's kind of like claiming to have been Capones' accountant, but that at least you were honest about it. Bizarre.
posted by bonehead at 7:28 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


But then he said:

I hasten to add that it is no good getting the police in, because I shall immediately call the Bank of England as my defence witness, given that it put me in to deal with these problems.



which apparently makes it all perfectly OK.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:33 AM on November 3, 2010


I'm voting less-than-obviously-not-insane. Though with a member of the house of lords the correct term is "eccentric".
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on November 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wasn't that just admission of a major crime, managing IRA funds? It seems to pass without comment. That sort of thing has ended in long prison sentences, has it not? It's nice that he handles IRA money in a fiducially appropriate manner, but that doesn't stop it from being IRA money. That's kind of like claiming to have been Capones' accountant, but that at least you were honest about it. Bizarre.

I read it as saying that he'd acted for the government in order to reduce the IRA's assets - trading on his position as a City financier to get access to their funds at the behest of the UK government, and then reducing their value.
posted by djgh at 7:33 AM on November 3, 2010


Labour blogger Hopi Sen remarks
" ... It’s tempting to think that Lord James has been the victim of a particularly convincing Nigerian E-mail scam.

But if it is madness, it is madness that has reached the highest levels of government.

After all, not only have members of “Foundation X” met with the Leader of the House of Lords, the Treasury minister, Lord Sassoon, confirmed that he has been in “detailed discussions” on this subject with Lord James, adding that the Government “take seriously anyone who wants to invest in our economy.”
It all sounds nuts; in fact, the story of vast unknown reserves of bullion sounds a lot like the Restore American Plan so popular among black helicopter fans. Which is to say, very nuts. So I'm as astonished as anyone else that important figures in the British government aren't dismissing this immediately. Or maybe they are. I can't really tell. From here it looks like some kind of hoax, or joke, or exaggeration that the rest of us aren't in on.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:41 AM on November 3, 2010


As someone pointed out in the comments on the Stross piece, sticking random search terms into Hansard is a great way to spend a lunch break - I've been doing it for some time.

Its amazing what insanity and ill-informed commentary gets thrown around in the Lords sometimes. Far too frequently the transcripts reads like a posh version of a YouTube comment thread.

Also, playing the game of assuming its not a figment of his imagination, I'm just going to assume that "Foundation X" is shorthand for "The current owners of QPR."
posted by garius at 7:46 AM on November 3, 2010


And of course, there's video. The speech in question starts at 2 hours and 34 minutes in.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:48 AM on November 3, 2010


I thought Col. Sanders reincarnated as the guidance system in a spacefaring Winnebago.

No, wait, His Lordship and I saw that on Community a couple of weeks ago when we were super high.
posted by Zozo at 7:49 AM on November 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Foundation X is completely genuine and sincere and that it directly wishes to make the United Kingdom one of the principal points that it will use to disseminate its extraordinarily great wealth into the world”

If all of it's money is in gold bullion, then all it would do is crash the gold market, which would wipe out a lot of tea partiers financially, which would be fucking awesome.
posted by empath at 7:54 AM on November 3, 2010


Artw: I'm voting less-than-obviously-not-insane. Though with a member of the house of lords the correct term is "eccentric".

Slightly off-topic, but I still have a bunch of delightfully dotty thank you letters from some British lords.

The evening newspaper I once worked for in Cambridge (UK) got me to organize and write a fun feature on The Twelve Days of Christmas - with a local slant.

There were (and are) tons of House of Lords members attached to Cambridge University (masters of colleges and the like) and I eventually persuaded five fairly elderly chaps with titles to pose for the "ten lords a-leaping" photo - along with with five ordinary mortals with the surname "Lord" - that I found through the Cambridge phone book.

(It took quite a bit of explaining, but the regular Lords liked the idea of meeting the real Lords, and vice versa.)


We got the whole lot to join arms for a delightfully wobbly chorus line portrait outside the newspaper office (and I remember introducing the then vice-chancellor of the university, Lord Adrian to a local builder, called Adrian Lord, which they both found extremely funny).

We sent everyone a copy of the picture - and every one of the (posh) lords politely sent thanks (on their crested personal stationery). They were just signed "Adrian" or "Botts" or "Denby" and the oldest lord - he was in his late eighties, at least -wrote - possibly tongue-in-cheek - that he still hadn't a clue why he'd been required to vigorously waggle his leg for our newspaper photo, but that nevertheless he had enjoyed the occasion immensely!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:54 AM on November 3, 2010 [52 favorites]


Surely this is Foundation X
posted by Summer at 7:58 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world

Securifax.com – Get your Free Security report and international security rating from the source. Protect your Secret Identity with ID Patrol and Pay Down My National Debt faster with DebtWise.
posted by straight at 8:09 AM on November 3, 2010


I eventually persuaded five fairly elderly chaps with titles to pose for the "ten lords a-leaping" photo

Photo?
posted by eye of newt at 8:10 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was...illuminating.
Is a Belgian-run advertising agency involved somehow?
posted by SyntacticSugar at 8:11 AM on November 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am expecting aliens from outer space to be the financial backers behind this because of this line: "They expect to be contacted only by someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world.". I hope I am not disappointed.
posted by yeoz at 8:15 AM on November 3, 2010


Also this one: "He said that they had come up with a figure for the amount of bullion that would be needed to cover their currency reserves, as claimed, which would be more than the entire value of bullion that had ever been mined in the history of the world."

Yeah, aliens. totally. with their space gold. *hopes*
posted by yeoz at 8:18 AM on November 3, 2010


I read it as saying that he'd acted for the government in order to reduce the IRA's assets - trading on his position as a City financier to get access to their funds at the behest of the UK government, and then reducing their value.

Well, City financiers have been doing that trick to just about everybody lately, not least Her Majesty's Treasury...
posted by Skeptic at 8:52 AM on November 3, 2010


Interesting comments on Twitter, via Ben Goldacre.

1. It sounds rather like the OITC; a scam group that have tried similar things in Ecuador and Fiji.

2. A-ha! The OITC claim to have offered £50bn to Scottish gov recently. It's almost certainly them.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:58 AM on November 3, 2010 [18 favorites]


I'm at a loss here, please let me know who they are.

1. George Soros
2. Fidel Castro
3. Mickey Dolenz
4. Oprah Winfrey
5. Flavor Flav
6. Bigfoot

Hope this helps.
posted by steambadger at 9:11 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Alan Sugar.
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2010


I am almost kicking myself that Sharron Angle wasn't elected, because I believe she could have done even better than this in the "out-of-touch-with-reality legislator" sweepstakes.

But maybe not. The stuff about Goering sexing kangaroos is really choice. She'd have to work hard to top that.

There is something so awesome about the House of Lords--a legislative body made up of people whose qualifications are either that their great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was a bigger thug than the thugs around him, or that they donated a bunch of money to whichever party was in power. Add in the random mystery novelist here and there, and you're golden.

I just don't think the US could possibly top this, though we would certainly make it a TV reality show if we tried.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:42 AM on November 3, 2010


Artw: *Lord* Sugar, and don't you forget it, you pleb!
posted by salmacis at 9:50 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Infinite Jest: Wow, that OITC page reads like something out of an ARG. Look at their history page, they've got a lot of treaties almost right, but not quite: a "Jekyll Island Agreement"? "Respecting the Rights Treaty"? It's ever so slightly off of reality that it's nearly convincing, but not quite enough that it shouldn't be considered really-real.

Therefore, a willful suspension of disbelief is a critical ingredient in both ARGs and international banking fraud.

I mean, damn, that "respecting the rights" thing leads to a different Ray Dam page full of more search-engine-ish crazy.

Seriously, I'm falling down the rabbit hole here, and I've got a lot of shit on my desk today. I don't have time for this.

*clicks a few more things*
posted by AzraelBrown at 10:00 AM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wasn't that just admission of a major crime

Not sure of the rules in the house of lords specifically, or about confessions specifically, but in parts of Westminster system, you have broad legal immunity for what you say. You might be subject to penalties from the rules of the house, but trying to bring a court case against a minister based on something they said in the house is very difficult.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:14 AM on November 3, 2010


Ray C. Dam! He's a person AND a certified banking institution!

I am loving this story more and more.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:17 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The President of the USA
The Secretary-General of the UN
The Prime Minister of China
The Chairman of the Bilderberg Group (or is it the Trilateral Commission?)
mathowie
Lady Gaga


I thought you were kidding, until I saw the last two.
posted by davejay at 10:27 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I soooooo want this to be true. The Rothschilds, the Emirates, some Bilderberg group fund, Aliens, Reptile men, whoever, it would just be awesome if this actually went down.
posted by keratacon at 10:53 AM on November 3, 2010


I eventually persuaded five fairly elderly chaps with titles to pose for the "ten lords a-leaping" photo...

Photo?

If only, eye of newt!

I'm fairly sure I must have a hard copy still with the rest of my clippings from that paper - among several cartons remaining in storage. (We moved to the US years ago, but only just sold our Cambridge house in April - we rented it out waiting for a negative equity situation to resolve! When we get the last of our attic chattels shipped here, I'll get rummaging.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:48 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meh. Maybe it's just the Vatican trying to put in a bid to buy Liverpool FC.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:51 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great stuff Infinite Jest and AzraelBrown; the lizard peoples are alive and well and coming to a country near you! Also I believe that it is a time honored feature not a bug to be an eccentric member of the House of Lords and strange rambling speeches are often not far from the norm. Little Alan Sugar is just a prat in ermine.
posted by adamvasco at 2:01 PM on November 3, 2010


Wow. This OITC thing is great. Check out this page listing the countries in each of "their" regions. I'm not sure what's best. The seemingly random ordering of the countries? The listing of Hawaii and Puerto Rico (and Falkland Isles and Balearic Isles and Port Louis) as countries? The misspelling of "Dominion Republic"?
posted by mhum at 3:25 PM on November 3, 2010


It's like some kind of GlobalEconomyCube!
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on November 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, check out this page about OITC
posted by symbioid at 4:46 PM on November 3, 2010


Good God, this turns out way, way better than I ever expected. Never again I will say that Twitter is nothing but a useless shoutbox app, thanx all for the sleuthing.
Also, I'm in love with the OITC website. Deeply. A multi trillion dollar organisation with a 'check email' button in their main navigation, so Ray C. Dam can check his email from either his zeppelin or submarine. And only Ray C. Dam will think of something as brilliant as that.
Could you please keep the linkage coming, because this is easily one of my TOP 6 favorite MeFi favorites. Now I have to go to sleep and I will put on the video where they use the exploding cubes transition and a real fucking church organ to play a Zarathustra/Chinese Elevator mashup.
Proof that they are the real thing: I found in the video webaddress: they use a double dot before the -html suffix. That must mean.... something.
http://www.unoitc.org/Video-Gen.Info..html
posted by ouke at 5:50 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those who want to have som Fun with Ray C. Dam, here's his LinkedIN. And he appears to be your typical Bond/Berkeley/Cambridge boy. And he's eagerly awaiting consulting offers.
posted by ouke at 5:59 PM on November 3, 2010


My sources suggest that the 6 go something like this:

1. John Stewart
2. Secretary General of the United Nations
3. Hari Seldon
4. The Koch Brothers
5. Gaius Baltar
6. The guy from the "The Rent Is Too Damn High" Party
posted by the thing about it at 7:51 PM on November 3, 2010


Summer: "Surely this is Foundation X"

I think the Pierson's Puppeteers are more likely.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:21 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Additional links:

Full transcript of Blackheath's speech which might be a little easier to navigate?

The Belfast Telegraph is covering the IRA angle.

More from Hopi Sen.

ZDNet interviewed Blackheath. He says he's on the up and up.
posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Missed one. Reuters reports on the OITC angle. :)
posted by zarq at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2010


In the ZDNet link that zarq posted, he also says that Foundation X is not OITC. The plot thickens....
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:00 AM on November 4, 2010


There's more than one organization out there that talks about head-of-state security levels?
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The OITC page "exceeded bandwidth" LOL.

So what do we take when he says that it isn't actually OITC? Strange coincidences when one considers that the OITC seems to do what Foundation X does. It would certainly be more believable if it weren't them.

Exceeded Bandwidth!!! HA!
posted by symbioid at 11:24 AM on November 4, 2010


If I run a secret organization of world-manipulating billionaires, I will be sure to get a decent web provider.
posted by Theta States at 11:41 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Billionaires? These are no mere billionaires, my friend. Trillionaires! (I believe, or is it Quadrillion -- whatever it is, it's huger than huge)
posted by symbioid at 12:06 PM on November 4, 2010


Given that he thinks that England can beat New Zealand at rugby on Saturday, I'm not so sure about that.

They manage, on average, every ten years. Sooner or later someone predicting "this time" will be right.

Whether that also means that sooner or later mysterious groups promising huge great wodges of money will be genuine is another matter entirely, of course.
posted by rodgerd at 12:05 PM on November 5, 2010


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