“You needn’t carry a card or even have heard the name Fabian to follow the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing flag. Fabianism is mainly a value-system with progressive objectives. Its social club aspect isn’t for coalminers, farmers, or steam-fitters. We’ve all been exposed to many details of the Fabian program without realizing it. In the United States, some organizations heavily influenced by Fabianism are the Ford Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Stanford Research Institute, the Carnegie Endowments, the Aspen Institute, the Wharton School, and RAND. And this short list is illustrative, not complete.”
— John Taylor Gatto, Underground History of American Education
In the early 1950s, Northern Dairies was approached about going public and the firm was approved by the afore-mentioned Lord Piercy, who then approached Labor MP and Fabian Society member Ian Mikardo. Mackintosh was also represented in the Northern Dairies board, and Alec was “reasonably certain of a successful issue in 1956.” It was at this point that Alec was approached by the Orthodox Church of Russia to take a team of churchmen to the Soviet Union. “Then came the Northern Dairies share issues in 1956,” Alec writes in his short memoir, “and happily, providence decided that General Nasser would nationalize the Suez Canal on that very day, so demand was not high.” I am not well-versed in stock-talk (despite being myself a major shareholder in Northern Foods from the age of eighteen to twenty-four), but what I deduce from this is that, because of the timing of the company going public with an international crisis, there was a flurry of insider trading when the price of the shares remained low. “Although all shares were taken up the price hovered around . . . the same price that our friends and customers the Mackintosh Group had acquired theirs.” Alec adds that “several members of the Mackintosh family actually bought significant quantities of our shares, and a happy relationship has continued to this day.”
When I first began this exploration of my family history, I had not even heard of the Suez Crisis. I soon discovered that it was a major turning point in global politics. For one thing, it spelled the end of then-British Prime Minster Anthony Eden’s career, due to a combination of failing health and a seriously compromised reputation. For another, it is on record as heralding the end of British predominance in the Middle East (once the US refused to back Eden’s government in trying to kill Nasser and retake the canal)—which is not far from saying the end of the British Empire. (The canal was of major importance to European industry due to the fact that two-thirds of oil supplies to Europe passed through it.) So in 1956, apparently on the very same day that Northern Dairies was going public, General Nasser, the president of Egypt, seized the canal in response to the withdrawal of Anglo-American funding for the Aswan Dam. As a result of this act of “providence,” Alec and his buddies were able to make a big business score. Considering Alec’s close relationship to power, it begs the question as to just how “providential” this timing was.
Also of note here is that David Astor’s media empire was instrumental in bringing down Eden’s government after the crisis: The Observer accused Eden of lying to Parliament, and of working in collusion with France and Israel to seize the canal. The Suez Crisis also comes up in relation to my father, in his Guardian obit: “[His] politics were always radical. In his youth, he had been a prominent protester against the Suez fiasco and an Aldermaston marcher.” If my father was protesting against Eden’s siding with France and Israel in 1956, this would have been a year or so before he left the UK and began traveling around the US and Canada, trying, or at least hoping, to be a writer (he met my mother in New Orleans in 1958). Did something happen to drive him from the UK, and from the intense paternal pressure to join the family business (which he ended up doing anyway, after he married my mother)? And did it relate to Northern Dairies’ “happy” transition from a private to a public corporation? Was this a time when my father got a whiff of the sort of interests Alec was really serving? (It’s probably worth noting here that, after going public, Northern Dairies’ first major expansion was into Northern Ireland.)
To give a little background to this story, the transformation of Alec’s local dairy into an international corporation began during World War II. As the website Reference for Business relates it:
“Recognizing that the time of the small dairyman was over, Horsley embarked upon an energetic and ambitious campaign of expansion, acquiring other dairies one by one. The larger the business grew, the more attractive it became to small firms beset by the bombing (Hull was very hard hit during the war), the chronic shortages, and the difficulties of adapting to rationalization [rationing]. As the firm expanded it actually became more efficient with each new addition, as Horsley chose the best dairies and plants when consolidating operations. By 1942 Horsley controlled a considerable network of retail and wholesale businesses scattered throughout Humberside and Yorkshire, and the retail end of the company was renamed Northern Dairies to reflect this (although the wholesale operations continued to be known by their individual names).”
For a company to become public as Northern Dairies did in 1956 means it can begin selling shares to “the general populace”—i.e., to rich people—and so become part of the stock exchange. This allows the company to raise funds and capital through the sale of their securities, in other words, to make money off money. Shareholders don’t do anything to make money, they just own shares and receive dividends. It’s pure capitalism, and about as far from a socialist philosophy as it’s possible to get. I should know: as one of these shareholders, from about the age of fifteen or so, I knew that (if I played my cards right) I would never have to work a day in my life. Once I turned eighteen and took ownership of my stock, I embraced a life of social freedom and irresponsibility (i.e., I did whatever the hell I pleased). Here’s a description of my lifestyle from the one piece I ever managed to get into The Guardian (the “Experience” section, open to everyone):
“On an average day, I woke around 1pm, ate, drove my black Opel Manta to the West End and spent £200 on records, videos, comics and books. On less adventurous days, I rented three or four movies from the local video store, ate an M&S dinner, rolled five or six joints, and spent half the night getting high. If I already had movies, I often didn’t get out of bed, just rolled a joint and turned on the TV. On my 20th birthday, I moved to New York. Beyond the locale, nothing much changed. When I wasn’t enjoying pot and movies in my Bowery bedsit, I was drinking tequila and snorting cocaine in an East Village bar. If anyone asked what I did for a living, I took great pleasure in telling them: ‘You’re looking at it.’”
This was the legacy of my “socialist” father and grandfather, and it was one that, within six or seven years, I found so burdensome that I effectively threw all my shares away.
Returning to the Northern Dairies going public/Alec’s Russian journey/Suez Crisis/end of British Empire nexus of 1954-6: it may seem a bit of a stretch to imply that Northern Dairies (soon to be Foods) was a significant player in this realm of geopolitics—were it not for the fact that food distribution has to be considered as one of the most essential components in social engineering. Every bit as much as oil, food is fundamental to the smooth functioning of society—making it also a powerful means to control it.
Northern Dairies became Northern Foods ten years after my father took over, and three years after Alec retired. (According to some sources, it was only then that my father came into his own as chairman, suggesting he’d been operating under the shadow, if not the thumb, of Alec.) My uncle, Christopher Haskins, joined the company in 1967. The official (Wikipedia) story is that he wanted to marry Alec’s daughter, Gilda, and the condition was that he join the business. The truth we have heard in our family is the exact reverse: Alec agreed to let Haskins into the business if he would marry his daughter. When given a choice between fact and legend, print the legend, yet whichever version of the story you read, it has an archaic, darkly mythological flavor to it. Either Alec used his youngest daughter as a bribe to recruit what he saw as a company asset (Haskins certainly turned out to be that), or, the reverse, he bribed his future son-in-law with a job in exchange for marrying off his daughter, thereby increasing the chances of expanding the family dynasty. In both cases, Gilda is treated more or less as chattel.
By Haskins’ own account (always best questioned, in my view), he was instrumental in first forming an alliance between Northern Foods and Marks & Spencer, in 1970, via a “chance meeting” with a Marks & Spencer executive on a plane. (The same place my father had his own chance meeting with Jimmy Savile.) 1970 was also the year Northern Dairies passed the million-pound annual profit mark, so once again, happy providence seems to have been at work. Northern Foods soon became Marks & Spencer’s biggest supplier, employing its “typical enthusiastic blend of acquisition and innovation.” It implemented a policy of “acquiring existing suppliers to Marks and Spencer wherever it could” (e.g., Park Cakes in 1972 and Fox’s Biscuits in 1977) while also creating new products especially for its favored customer (“by 1988 Northern Foods was producing a range of 250 products for Marks and Spencer”).(Source for this and all following info about Northern Foods)
In 2014, Lord Haskins as he was by then known, stated: “My company was built up on the principles of Marks & Spencer—being fair and equal with those we worked with. It was very much above board and we treated our suppliers with respect.” Maybe so, but Marks & Spencer is more than just a clothing and food chain. It has been both directly and indirectly affiliated with Zionism and the State of Israel from its inception on, most overtly in that M & S chairman and founding member Israel Sieff was a Zionist, and chairman Joseph Sieff a British Zionist Federation member (Joseph Sieff survived an assassination attempt in 1973, allegedly by the Palestinian Liberation Army).
In 1987, under the chairmanship of Haskins, Northern Foods built the most advanced food factory in Europe:
“As a gesture of its goodwill and enthusiasm, Northern Foods built this Marks and Spencer dedicated plant—at a cost of £8 million—before it had yet been established what products were to be made there. Echoing Alec Horsley’s 1937 achievement with his first milk processing plant, Fenland Foods, which has been hailed as Europe’s most advanced food factory, was built in 40 weeks—and was selling to Marks and Spencer three weeks later.”
Apparently this gesture of goodwill was rewarded. “Ironically for a company whose own name is never seen on its products, Northern Foods is the largest fresh food manufacturer in the United Kingdom. The company’s 1993 sales figures elevated it to the coveted status of membership in the ‘two billion club.’” After he left the company, Haskins apparently remained a member of the club. He went on to become “rural tsar” (at the height of the foot and mouth disease epidemic) to Prime Minister and Fabian Society member Tony Blair—suggesting that the business of running a food company and that of running a country are not so far apart as might be imagined.
 “It was during the second year of his premiership, when the United States refused to support the Anglo-French military response to the Suez Crisis, which critics across party lines regarded as an historic setback for British foreign policy, signaling the end of British predominance in the Middle East. Most historians argue that he made a series of blunders, especially not realizing the depth of opposition to military action by the United States. Most historians say that Eden completely dominated the British decision-making process in the Suez crisis. However, Jonathan Pearson argues in Sir Anthony Eden and the Suez Crisis: Reluctant Gamble (2002) that Eden was more reluctant and less bellicose than most historians have judged. . . . He is generally ranked among the least successful British Prime Ministers of the 20th century, although two broadly sympathetic biographies (in 1986 and 2003) have gone some way to redressing the balance of opinion. D. R. Thorpe says the Suez Crisis ‘was a truly tragic end to his premiership, and one that came to assume a disproportionate importance in any assessment of his career.’” (Wikipedia)
 Of passing interest, Astor was psychoanalyzed by Freud’s daughter, Anna, around the time the Tavistock Institute was founded.