Nick Butler

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Nick Butler
Nick Butler is a former BP oil executive who worked for the UK Prime Minister as Senior Policy Adviser at 10 Downing Street from 2009 to 2010.[1] More recently he has acted as an adviser to the House of Lords enquiry on shale gas.

Butler is currently a visiting professor at Kings College London, energy policy adviser at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, and a Senior Adviser to Coller Capital, Linton Capital and Corporate Value Associates. He is a non executive Director of Cambridge Econometrics, a Trustee of Asia House, a Vice-President of the Hay-on-Wye literary festival and regularly blogs for Financial Times on energy and power issues.

Butler is also a founder of the British American Project,[2] and was well connected in New Labour circles.

Contents

Background

Butler is a member of the Fabian Society, and has been its treasurer since 1982. He was a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, standing for Lincoln in the 1992 and 1987 general elections.

He was Chairman of the Centre for European Reform, which he co-founded with David Miliband from 1994 to 2009, a member of the President's International Advisory Board at Yale University, and a founder member of British American successor generation project.

BP

Butler joined BP in 1977 after leaving Cambridge where he graduated with an honours degree in economics.[3] He worked in a series of economics and policy posts in BP and served as Group Policy Adviser from 1995 to 2002.[4]

He was Group Vice President for Policy and Strategy Development from 2002 to 2006.[5] Butler's departure from BP at the end of 2006 was described by the Telegraph as a "major setback" for the company's chief executive, Lord Browne.[6]

The Telegraph article described him as “a key conduit between the oil giant and Downing Street.”[7]. It added that Butler's reputation had become "strained" by “leaks about conflict with BP's chairman, Peter Sutherland” and that he is “close to Jonathan Powell”, Tony Blair's then chief of staff. The Times rumoured that he was "used in a plot to oust a sitting MP" so that Ed Balls, the right-hand man of the then chancellor Gordon Brown, "could be assured of the nomination" for a safe Labour seat in Parliament.[8]

The then Prime Minister Gordon Brown listed Butler as one of his special advisers in a parliamentary answer on 16 July 2009.[9]

Fabians

Butler was Chairman of the Young Fabians in 1979 and later treasurer of the Fabian Society. In 1982 he was a "member of the research staff" of the Royal Institute for International Affairs and Chairman of the Streatham Labour Party and the Labour Aid and Development Committee, according to a biographical note in a pamphlet he wrote for the Young Fabians in 1982.[10] He went on to become a speech writer for Neil Kinnock. He was a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, standing for Lincoln in the 1992 and 1987 general elections.[11]

British American Project

According to Duncan Parrish in the New Statesman,[12] Butler first suggested the British American Project in 1982, when he was a Labour Party insider of the old right and a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).

Along with many others in the US and Britain who viewed the special relationship favourably, he had become concerned about the growing tide of anti-American sentiment, particularly within his own party. This was the time of Greenham Common, CND and the battles over US deployment of cruise missiles in Europe. Vietnam and Watergate were fresh in everyone's memory.[13]

Parrish adds that "Butler's response was to propose a series of conferences, similar in format to the annual get-together of the Anglo-German elite at Konigswinter, developing personal relationships between the participants and broadening understanding. This rapidly gained backing from Chatham House, then from other establishment bodies, such as the Royal United Services Institute and the US embassy in London. But at this stage there seemed little prospect of funding."[14]

It was Sir Charles Villiers, the former chairman of British Steel, who overcame this obstacle by roping in two American anglophile friends of his, Lew van Dusen and Isadore Scott, who were able to secure $460,000 through the Pew Charitable Trusts, the second biggest grant-making body in the US.[15]

Other activities

In April 2007, Butler was appointed Director of the Centre for Energy Studies at Cambridge's Judge Business School,[16] a position he held until 2009 when he joined Number 10.

Butler is a member of the Advisory Board of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC (where BAP is based).[17]

Shale Gas

Butler has cautioned against the “dangerous” hype surrounding shale gas development in the UK and “strongly raised expectations” of some in parliament. He said: “There is a gap of understanding between the industry and senior politicians who are taking the debate ahead of reality.”

Affiliations

Publications

  • European Universities – Renaissance or Decay (with Richard Lambert), Centre for European Reform, 2006
  • The International Grain Trade: problems and prospects, Croom Helm commodity series, Croom Helm, London 1986
  • The IMF: Time for Reform, Fabian Society, London 1982

Notes

  1. Special Advisers, www.parliament.uk, Hansard 16 July 2009.
  2. Andy Beckett, "Friends in high places", The Guardian, 6 November 2004, accessed October 2008
  3. Nick Butler, Franco British Council, accessed 26 July 2010.
  4. Chairs’ & Speakers’ Biographies-, CLIMATE CHANGE: THE LEGAL CHALLENGE, FRANCO – BRITISH LAWYERS’ SOCIETY LIMITED, accessed 26 July 2010.
  5. Nick Butler, Cambridge Judge Business School, accessed 26 July 2010.
  6. Katherine Griffiths, Browne aide quits sparking Blair talk, telegraph.co.uk, 14 October 2006.
  7. Katherine Griffiths, "Browne aide quits sparking Blair talk", 14 October 2006, accessed October 2008
  8. "'Plot' hands safe seat to Brownite", The Times, 6 May 2007, accessed October 2008
  9. Special Advisers, www.parliament.uk, Hansard 16 July 2009.
  10. Nick Butler, "The IMF: Time for Reform", Young Fabian pamphlet, No. 50, January 1982. ISBN 716320509
  11. Nick Butler, Fabian Society, accessed 26 July 2010.
  12. Duncan Parrish, "Right-wing conspiracy or right-on broker of the special relationship?", 17 May 1999, accessed October 2008. The same article is also available here as of October 2008
  13. Duncan Parrish, The NS Profile - The British-American project, New Statesman, 17 May 1999. Also available at FindArticles.
  14. Duncan Parrish, The NS Profile - The British-American project, New Statesman, 17 May 1999. Also available at FindArticles.
  15. Duncan Parrish, The NS Profile - The British-American project, New Statesman, 17 May 1999. Also available at FindArticles.
  16. Press Release, Cambridge Judge Business School, 20 April 2007.
  17. Nick Butler, German-British Forum, accessed 26 July 2010.
  18. Nick Butler, Fabian Society, accessed 26 July 2010.
  19. Press Release, Cambridge Judge Business School, 20 April 2007.
  20. Nick Butler, German-British Forum, accessed 26 July 2010.
  21. Nick Butler, Franco British Council, accessed 26 July 2010.
  22. Executive Committee, Centre for China in the World Economy, accessed 26 July 2010.
  23. Nick Butler, German-British Forum, accessed 26 July 2010.
  24. Nick Butler, Fabian Society, accessed 26 July 2010.
  25. Nick Butler, Cambridge Judge Business School, accessed 26 July 2010.
  26. Nick Butler, Fabian Society, accessed 26 July 2010.
  27. Directors & Council, hayfestival.com, accessed 26 July 2010.
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