Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House
Below are some extracts from Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House.
Extract from Chapter 3 (Pages 99-102)
- It was time to recruit some tough lieutenants, check your gun-powder and mass your forces. The battle was on now, for sure, and the only weapons that counted were technology, strategy and sheer weight of numbers. Colston-Hayter still believed he could turn the negative coverage around, or at least parry it, and called on an old video-gaming friend. Paul Staines, a former Harrow schoolboy with an extrovert demeanour and a caustic wit, had met Colston-Hayter at an Atari Asteroids championships; Staines came in first ahead of his new friend. At university he was drawn to the radical libertarian wing of the Federation of Conservative Students, and was soon working as a political aide to the right-wing maverick, wealthy property developer and adviser to Margaret Thatcher, David Hart. Hart's philosophy was complete freedom of the marketplace and rabid anti-communism. He had played a key role in the Conservatives' 1983 election victory, been a member of Thatcher's so-called "alternative cabinet" and during the Miners' Strike of 1984-85 had used his cash and forceful personality to build a clandestine network of disaffected and strike-breaking miners, which eventually contributed to the defeat of Arthur Scargill and the National Union of Mineworkers.
- A "conspiratorial... somewhat bizarre figure", Hart moved among the higher echelons of the security services, received substantial funding from Rupert Murdoch, and would go on to advise Michael Portillo, the darling of the Tory right in the nineties. Hart's organisation, Committee for a Free Britain, published two periodicals, the Cold War bulletin World Briefing, which was overseen by former CIA spook Herb Mayer, and British Briefing, a "monthly intelligence analysis of the activities of the extreme left". The latter's major impetus was to smear Labour MPs and left-leaning lawyers and writers. It had previously been run by MI6 veteran Brian Crozier and Paul Staines now helped to produce it. The twenty-one year old was having the time of his life.
- "I was a fanatical, zealot anti-communist. I wasn't really a Tory, I was an anarcho-capitalist. I was lobbying at the Council of Europe and at Parliament; I was over in Washington, in Jo'burg, in South America. It was 'let's get guns for the Contras', that sort of stuff. I was enjoying it immensely, I got to go with these guys and fire off AK-47s. I always like to go where the action is, and for that period in the Reagan/Thatcher days, it was great fun, it was all expenses paid and I got to see the world. I used to think that World Briefing was a bit funny. The only scary thing about those publications was the mailing list - people like George Bush - and the fact that Hart would talk to the head of British Intelligence for an hour. I used to think it was us having a laugh, putting some loony right-wing sell in, and that somebody somewhere was taking it seriously. You've got to understand that we had a sense of humour about this."
- He also had misgivings about his boss. "He's completely charming and can charm senior people like Thatcher and appear sane for a while. But any close proximity to him for a prolonged period of time, you know he's completely off his fucking head."
- Between forays for Hart and work for the similarly right-wing Adam Smith Institute, Staines had begun to attend his friend Tony's parties. "The first E I took was at Apocalypse Now at Wembley Studios. I thought it was fantastic, I was down there, Smiley face T-shirt, shorts - never done acid, never done E, I'd never even heard of this MDMA. I had the E, it was pure MDMA, and I was so out of it, so in love with everybody, I had a little windowpane of acid, and that was it, I just tripped out. Wembley Studios has got those white walls with the curves, and I was lost, I was a wisp of smoke; it was a brilliant, fabulous experience."
- Libertarian jet-setting was fun, for sure, but this was a better buzz altogether. After White Waltham, Staines became Sunrise's by publicity officer - at first running the operation out of Hart's premises. "My credibility was slowly going down in politics. One minute l would be on News at One saying 'there's no drugs at these parties' and the next minute I'm supposed to be talking about civil war in Angola. It wasn't working."
Extract from Chapter 3 (Pages 109-110)
- In return, Staines poked fun at [Chief Superintendent Ken Tappenden] and his team by sending them joke faxes. Paul Staines claims that they were also being fed inside information from the Pay Party Unit's Gravesend headquarters. "One of the guys on the Sunrise team was bonking a secretary working down there," he laughs, "so we knew the score."
- "They cut the lines on us; they were trying everything to nail us down," says Staines. "It was reasonably co-ordinated, there was a Home Office unit on the case. I remember being at something at the Home Office, I ended up in this blazing row [with a Home Office official]. He said 'look, I know who you are, we know all about you', became I had a Special Branch record from being in politics, working in extreme groups. They couldn't work it out: 'you're a right wing Tory why are you doing this? Because I'm doing loads of E and having a great time!"
Extract from Chapter 3 (Page 112)
- Sunrise's parent company, the Transatlantic Corporation, was registered in the Virgin Islands tax haven. "The authorities could pursue it as much as they liked, it was an absolute dead end, " says Staines. "We couldn't get done of tax or anything. We were safe."
Extract from Chapter 3 (Page 117)
- The Freedom to Party campaign rolled on without any hope of victory. They were just squeezing a few last pounds out of their premium-rate phone lines and merchandising. "We were making money out of the hats and T-shirts," says Staines. "That was the real reason at the back of my mind I was carrying on with it, because it was never going to be a successful campaign. All those demos cost us a fortune. It sounds money-grabbing, but we were there for the business as well."
Staines was childhood friends with Gideon Sherman, son of the racist right-wing libertarian Alfred Sherman, who co-founded the Centre for Policy Studies with Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph. On Sherman's death in 2006, Staines wrote: 'A young Guido was a friend of Gideon Sherman, as a result Guido would often be around the Sherman house. His father Sir Alfred always rendered Guido tongue-tied, he was right on so many issues and spectacularly wrong on others. He was great fun to hear when he was going full throttle.'
Articles By Staines/ 'Guido Fawkes'
- Paul Staines, "Human Rights and the inevitability of politics", Foreign Policy Perspectives No. 18, Libertarian Alliance, 1990. ISSN 0267-6761 ISBN 1 85637 001 1
- Paul Staines, "Acid House Parties Against the Lifestyle Police and the Safety Nazis", Political Notes No. 55, Libertarian Alliance, 1991. ISSN 0267-7059 ISBN 1 85637 039 9
- Paul Staines, Spare us the party police, The Independent (London), December 15, 1995. (A letter to the editor on behalf of the Freedom to Party Campaign).
- 'Guido Fawkes', "In defence of the blogger", The Guardian, July 10, 2006.
- Stephen Cook, People diary, The Guardian (London), July 16, 1987.
- Andrew Moncur, Diary, The Guardian, May 25, 1988.
- Andrew Moncur, Diary, The Guardian, September 23, 1988
- Mondial Global Investors, "Paul Staines Chief Investment Officer", undated accessed January 2005.
- Backbencher, The Guardian (London), February 2, 2005 points out that Guido Fawkes' blog shares a fax number with Paul Staines.
- Christopher Silvester, "Policemen's Helmets off to Guido Fawkes", Independent on Sunday, April 16, 2006. (About the police investigation of 'Cash for Peerages' identifies the anonymous political blogger 'Guido Fawkes' as Paul Staines.)
- Colin Brown, "'Dirty tricks' claim over Tory blogs", Independent, 5 July 2006. (Brown, the biographer of John Prescott, claims that Paul Staines was running a dirty tricks campaign against the Deputy Prime Minister.)
- "Net provocateurs invade Westminster", The Observer, July 9, 2006. (The article warns that "this could well be remembered as a watershed week in media coverage of British politics, when John Prescott's career was brought crashing down by a self-styled internet 'anarcho-capitalist' named Paul Staines - aka 'Guido Fawkes' - is the most in-your-face of Britain's new tribe of political bloggers.")
- Andy McSmith, Paul Staines: The worm of Westminster, Independent, 3 December 2011.
- Sunny Hundal, Guido Fawkes smear letter against Labour MP collapses, Liberal Conspiracy, 12 March 2013.
Sourcewatch Paul Staines
- Talk announcement from Manifesto Club, 21 February 2008
- Paul Staines, 'Sir Alfred Sherman R.I.P., 29 August 2006
- Manifesto Club. Tuesday 26 February 2008, CLUB NIGHT: Thought Crime - from the Lyrical Terrorist to Beenie Man, Manifesto Club, 26-February-2008, Accessed 10-May-2010