Mark Oaten
Mark Oaten became CEO of the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) – - in 2011 after a career in politics.

Formed over 60 years ago, the IFTF protects the fur trade’s interests, promotes innovation and high standards and presents a factual image of the fur industry.

Mark was a UK Member of Parliament for 13 years and served for four years as a member of the Council of Europe. During his time in Parliament he was Liberal Democrat Party Chairman and the Shadow Home Secretary. He served on a number of boards including the British Healthcare Trade Association, Alcohol Concern, Mental Health Matters, the prison Charity Unlock, the Council for Administration and a Director of the Charity Finance Directors Group.

He lectured at Wroxton College in Oxford and was a regular broadcaster for Sky and BBC TV.

Following his retirement from active politics, Oaten published two books, one on the history of coalition governments and the other a memoir entitled Screwing Up: How One MP Survived Politics, Scandal and Turning 40.

Entries by Mark Oaten

Daily Mail in 'Gets It Completely Wrong About Fur' Shocker

(5) Comments | Posted 23 May 2016 | (13:36)

I am always 100% in favour of a free, balanced and well-informed press. Sadly, the Daily Mail has once again slipped from those lofty ideals.

Its latest article on the fur trade was, it must be said, a masterful effort in taking my comments completely out of context,...

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China Needs Good Monkey Business

(0) Comments | Posted 8 February 2016 | (12:23)

I have just arrived back home from my seventh trip to China in the last few years and the place is still something of a mystery to me: meeting officials last week, they told me we could now speak openly with each other as it was our sixth meeting.

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Arctic Christmas Scenes Hide the Truth of the Inuit Struggle

(1) Comments | Posted 10 December 2015 | (11:18)

Every Christmas we're inundated with images of smiling polar bears and Santa and his elves happily putting toys together in his workshop in the Arctic Circle. But these images distract from the truth about the Arctic: it's an incredibly tough environment to actually live in, even more so when unnecessary...

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Britexit? No Thanks

(0) Comments | Posted 12 November 2015 | (14:22)

Now the Prime Minster has set out his red lines on EU reform, the real debate can start on the future of the UK's membership of the European Union.

But the thing to bear in mind is that it's not just a domestic discussion - the...

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Where Do the Lib Dems Go From Here?

(0) Comments | Posted 22 July 2015 | (11:01)

As MPs head off for the summer break this week, one man with little time to rest will be newly-elected Lib Dem leader Tim Farron. No lazy days by a Tuscan pool, I'm afraid, as he has less than two months before his first party conference and a big test...

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How Do the Tabloids Tick?

(0) Comments | Posted 28 May 2015 | (15:25)

The recent phone-hacking scandal may have taken up headlines across UK tabloids, but it was simply replacing the stories unearthed by those illegal activities - stories that the public lapped up at the time. My personal experience highlighted the strange combination of cunning and frenzy that underpins the British press.

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General Election 2015 - As Seen by the Candidates

(0) Comments | Posted 21 April 2015 | (15:52)

Okay, everyone, it's time to attempt the impossible. Can I make you feel sympathy for politicians? Here goes nothing...

There are two weeks to go to the General Election and the pain is really starting to kick in. You're counting down the days and adding up the...

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No, We Don't Skin Animals Alive for Fur

(45) Comments | Posted 18 February 2015 | (11:19)

The fur industry is regularly accused of skinning animals alive and the most recent attack came this weekend online in the Daily Mail. This time, enough is enough: it's time to set the record straight. As the head of the fur industry's trade body, I would like to make a...

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Why the General Election Needs a Risk-taker

(0) Comments | Posted 29 January 2015 | (09:52)

When I was a MP, one of the most stressful issues was not knowing when the General Election was coming. It was impossible to make plans and you didn't know if and when you would even have a job.

But with fixed Parliaments, we now all...

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Clegg and the Lib Dems: Crisis or Opportunity?

(0) Comments | Posted 7 October 2014 | (09:13)

As the Lib Dem party conference comes to a close this week, all the major parties' thoughts will now move to an election footing. It's set to be one of the most fascinating and unpredictable periods in politics for decades.

There's no question that the rise of UKIP has...

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Phone Hacking Is Forever

(0) Comments | Posted 26 July 2014 | (00:00)

Enjoying the hot summer sun, I suddenly wondered what it must be like in jail. Shut away; looking at the blue sky with no prospect of a BBQ, pool visit or trip to the beach.

The people who hacked my phone and appeared outside my house...

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Public Morals and Freedom of Choice: A Double Win for Common Sense

(0) Comments | Posted 29 May 2014 | (15:05)

Several court rulings in the last few weeks suggest those in power might have overstepped the mark when it comes to legislation on fur and the tricky issue of public morality. You can see the societal backdrop to the rulings I talk about below echoed in the recent European elections....

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Public Morals Are a Slippery Slope

(0) Comments | Posted 28 April 2014 | (10:23)

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was formed on the principles of free trade and non-discrimination. However, its Dispute Settlement Body recently announced that it is supporting the EU's ban on the commercial trade in seal products, a ban that was set up on the grounds that the legislation served the...

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Fur, Remixed

(4) Comments | Posted 10 March 2014 | (15:36)

Vicki Woods writing in the Daily Telegraph recently talks about the dilemma that many people face when it comes to fur. Some people are vehemently against it and will never change their mind, no matter what. That's fine by me. After all it's a question of choice and...

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It's Still the Economy, Stupid

(0) Comments | Posted 31 January 2014 | (09:49)

When President Clinton's advisor James Carville famously summed the presidential election up as "It's the economy, stupid," he spoke for generations of politicians who have known that elections are won and lost on the basis of voters' pockets and purses.

As the long run up starts...

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On Behalf of the Industry...

(0) Comments | Posted 6 January 2014 | (09:08)

I run a trade association. Like most such bodies, we're funded by all the businesses in our industry to act, work and speak on their mutual behalf. And like most such bodies, that means we're sometimes seen as the poor relation living on their scraps.

All too...

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Is there a Beijing bubble?

(2) Comments | Posted 22 November 2013 | (14:15)

Attending an economics seminar in Beijing, I end up bombarded with two hours of complex figures. I wish I'd turned up to double maths on a Wednesday afternoon all those years ago!

But even my limited financial knowledge can crunch the numbers. China is a success story with a...

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Fighting for Consumer Choice

(6) Comments | Posted 15 October 2013 | (13:29)

Personal choice is one of the bedrocks of our society and I react very strongly when I see it being eroded. I have no issue in people standing up for a cause and being heard but I do take issue when the approach is overly militant in its nature or...

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Recess Over, Back to School for UK Politicians

(0) Comments | Posted 16 September 2013 | (18:06)

From this week onwards, a weird annual British tradition begins which involves the UK political establishment dragging itself to grey conference buildings across the country to face near-empty halls, drab bed and breakfasts and wall-to-wall gatherings of party activists - it's a politician's worst nightmare and it all takes place...

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Reward for the Tough Choice Takers

(1) Comments | Posted 3 September 2013 | (17:37)

Brussels is as I write, still more tourist than Eurocrat as the political institutions take their summer break though they will be back to work imminently. Reflecting on where we were eighteen months ago, I believe the Commission and Institutes have a great deal to be proud about. Back then...

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