Just a couple of days into this election battle and rigor mortis has set in listening to Theresa May’s team droning on in their best ‘masters of alliteration’ style.
The right wing WhatsApp brigade have been busy as the vacuous ‘Brexit means Brexit’ has been hastily replaced with a bombardment of the equally vacuous ‘Coalition of Chaos.’
We counted its deployment on fifteen occasions yesterday before nodding off, much like the audience at May’s heavily staged managed visit to GlaxoSmithKline’s Maidenhead factory. A visit that had a level of control Kim Jong-un would have been proud of.
Control of May’s appearances is definitely needed, as the Tory hierarchy also know its selected one’s forte isn’t thinking on her feet, despite, when questioned on running scared of a live TV debate, telling the local Maidenhead bugle she had “been doing head-to-head debates with Jeremy Corbyn week-in, week-out since I became Prime Minister.”
Indeed she has, with heavily scripted replies that she appears unable, or unwilling, to realise are just lie after lie after lie. Hence the reason Corbyn keeps asking her about funding of hospitals, schools and social care – perhaps that should be cuts to hospitals, schools and social care?
Of course, whilst Corbyn ‘on the stump’ is like the proverbial ‘pig in shit’, he’s far from the consummate performer. On safe ground, he can engage anyone on social issues, the NHS, poverty and the rights of the poor. On these subjects, he’s a world beater, but on the economy, less so, thank god he has John McDonnell!
The sight of the oblivious pair sitting there, with small birds tweeting and flying around their heads as Hammond introduced a NICs increase for the self-employed tells you everything you need to know about people’s perceptions of Labour, and the Tories aren’t shy about exploiting it. Who could blame them.
Whilst Corbyn’s team may well have an insurmountable image problem it’s not to say Labour hasn’t strength in depth. Likewise the Liberal Democrats and the SNP which leads you to one inevitable conclusion, no matter how difficult the maths.
A ‘coalition of chaos?’
Look no further than the coalition of remainers, leavers, moderates, Thatcherites and downright Nazis populating the government benches that HAS delivered chaos to our NHS, schools, welfare, the sick and the poor and tens of millions of working people through austerity and now Brexit. All of which has so far brought about increased prices, directly or by stealth inflation, which will lead to higher interest rates and increased mortgage and loan repayments for ordinary people.
All this austerity and Brexit madness at a time when the exchequer, over the last six years, has been in receipt of record tax income, and unprecedented government borrowing, greater than the borrowing of all the Labour administrations added together. We’ve all been taken for a ride and we’re about to be taken for an even bigger one.
The question is should they have even been in power?
It is understood that twenty-four Conservative MPs now face criminal charges which, if proven, would have meant by-elections in their constituencies.
So, should they have been allowed to engineer their Brexit shambles? A shambles that only now is becoming apparent – the massive constitutional change and the impact it will have on the United Kingdom begs the question what were they up to passing the 2015 Referendum Act? Not just without the safeguard of a threshold but actively brushing aside an amendment to introduce it as “an advisory referendum only, nobody knows what’s going to happen?”
The Electoral Commission has announced it has launched an inquiry into Leave.EU and are investigating the official Vote Leave campaign’s spending. The Guardian have said:
“The Electoral Commission (EC) is also understood to be looking at spending by the official Brexit campaign. Vote Leave gave £625,000 to a student called Darren Grimes, which he then used to hire a company called AggregateIQ (AIQ). AIQ then produced a targeted pro-leave Facebook ad campaign.”
Vote Leave spent £3.5m with AIQ, here are examples of redacted invoices that were submitted to the EC as proof of their spending with AIQ.
That is a $1m redacted invoice, and it says nothing. Brexitshambles has contacted the Electoral commission to find out if it has jurisdiction to audit a Canadian company’s books as, collectively, these invoices prove little other than Vote Leave paid £3.5m to a company run out of a small office above a shop.
AIQ was registered in 2013 by Zackary Massingham and his partner, Jeff Silvester; he appears to be the sort of person that can speak for hours but tell you nothing, he explained, “We have all kinds of metrics that we can apply to an ad or any piece of campaign technology. It’s a whole suite of technological solutions.”
AIQ received 11 contracts from Vote Leave and its affiliates, including the three largest payments made to any firm. One of these payments, came through an affiliate to Vote Leave, BeLeave who ran a ‘social media driven media campaign.’
BeLeave was run by Darren Grimes, a 23-year-old fashion design student at the University of Brighton tasked with rallying the youth vote for the Leave campaign. Something akin to getting 80-year-old geriatrics interested in hip-hop. Vote Leave gave Darren £675,315, most of which was spent with AIQ.
Despite being gifted the large sum of money to sway young voters, BeLeave managed to acquire only 6,300 Facebook likes and just 3,700 followers on Twitter.
Vote Leave strategist Dominic Cummings has said: “Without a doubt, the Vote Leave campaign owes a great deal of its success to the work of AggregateIQ.”
Cummings is also cited on a statement on AggregateIQ’s website claiming “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
The redacted invoices also reveal links between SCL Group – the registered owners of Cambridge Analytica – understood to be one of the reasons Leave.EU are under investigation – and AIQ.
SCL had included a Canadian office on its website. The Victoria phone number listed was that of AIQ. Zack Massingham is connected to others through Robert Mercer’s ‘Media Research Centre’ most prominently ultra right-wing catholic Thomas Peters, whose company uCampaign was used by both Vote Leave, the Ted Cruz Campaign and latterly the Donald Trump Presidential campaign.
Thomas Peters produces specialised Apps for specific campaigns, he explains: “While Democrats do a better job integrating digital tools into campaigns, uCampaign is “actually doing pinpointed targeted matching” by using phone numbers from app users and contact lists matched with voter file data harnessed by conservative big data groups like Cambridge Analytica a “psychographic” data firm which has compiled personal data on millions of voters.’
Nobody, with even a basic understanding of the capabilities of these companies, should be comfortable with the fact that not only were they were involved in both Leave campaigns, but there appears to be links and connections between them.
Given that just 635,000 voters swung the result it is little wonder an investigation could unearth a major problem with the the EU referendum result.
Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian has conducted much in-depth work on this subject, she tweeted this last night….
We’ve written our own exposé which you can read here. With something as important as this country’s well being at stake there can be no stone left unturned when it comes to discovering whether our electoral process is secure.
And if collusion to pervert that process has taken place, then the perpetrators need to suffer the consequences – not the long suffering general public as was the case with the 2008 banking crisis.
Well worth a watch is an excerpt from the excellent ‘Brexit: A Very British Coup.’ A Slugger O’Toole documentary which makes the seemingly innocuous comment that Vote Leave and Leave.EU where in contact on a daily basis.