Boris Johnson rules out a snap election. Here’s the evidence that suggests otherwise.

Boris Johnson
Tom Coburg

Despite a denial to the contrary, the ‘Boris Gang’ appears to be preparing for an autumn general election, though the precise timing will be dependent on a number of scenarios. Indeed, over 500 different advertisements promoting the gang are already appearing on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Dominic Cummings, the mastermind behind the EU referendum Vote Leave campaign, is now special adviser at Number 10 and will likely coordinate the election propaganda. And looking back at how that campaign was run means there are even more reasons why we should be worried about Boris Johnson’s “Cabinet of War“.

Battle stations

ITV reporter Robert Peston was one of the first political commentators to suggest an autumn general election is in the offing, with Cummings playing a key role:

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




 

And it appears that the Facebook ads are attempting to gather crucial voter information:

Prime Minister Liar

Targeted and end user trawling ads via Facebook was one of the signature methodologies employed by ‘psyops’ specialists and behaviour manipulators Cambridge Analytica (CA). Billionaire Trump supporter Robert Mercer was reportedly a financial backer of CA. And Mercer is not only Trump’s main financial backer, but he also funds the hard-right Breitbart News. And former Breibert executive chair Steve Bannon happened to be a board member of CA.

But when Johnson was asked in the Commons why he met with CA’s CEO Alexander Nix, rather than lie, this is how he responded:

Perhaps Johnson’s memory needs refreshing. The December 2016 meeting was likely about an upcoming Foreign and Commonwealth Office forum (first revealed by The Canary) on the subject of diplomacy and data. Executives from Cambridge Analytica parent SCL were invited.

Disinformation

Let’s not forget that Johnson was summonsed to face charges of misconduct in a public office, for promoting the infamous ‘£350m to the EU’ lie in the lead-up to the referendum. Although the charges were later dropped.

But the £350m to the EU wasn’t the only falsehood promoted by Vote Leave. There were many more contentious ads.

Not forgetting this video, which promotes the incorrect figure of £350m and highly questionable claims about other countries joining the EU. Remarkably, it is still available on the Vote Leave website:

The ads were complemented by Brexit Central/BeLeave ads and Democratic Unionists Party (DUP) ads.

It’s been estimated that 45% of the Vote Leave ads were about immigration, such as this one:

One of the more notorious Vote Leave ads was based on the lie that Turkey was about to join the EU:

A study by Samuel C Woolley and Philip N Howard of the Oxford Internet Institute stated:

Computational propaganda is now one of the most powerful tools against democracy. Social media firms may not be creating this nasty content, but they are the platform for it. They need to significantly redesign themselves if democracy is going to survive social media.

In other words, lies and disinformation.

Legal action

In July 2018, the Electoral Commission ruled that Vote Leave and its sister organisation BeLeave broke the law by not fully disclosing referendum spending returns and had incurred overspends.

BeLeave made three payments to AggregateIQ (AIQ): US$565,500, $264,000 and $58,500. Veterans for Britain, led by Lee Rotherham – the former head of special projects for Vote Leave – paid £100,000 to AIQ. The DUP received funding from the Constitutional Research Council of more than £425,000 for its Brexit campaign, and it paid £32,750 to AIQ.

Vote Leave and BeLeave are also said to have shared three datasets to locate potential recipients of targeted Facebook adverts. These include: ‘data file custom audiences’, ‘website custom audiences’ and ‘lookalike audiences’. AIQ also developed a software platform for Cambridge Analytica.

Electoral reform campaign Fair Vote further alleged that a senior Vote Leave staff member, Victoria Woodcock, went through a drive shared by Vote Leave, BeLeave and AIQ. Specifically, Fair Vote claimed that after the investigation was announced, she ‘restricted access’ to hundreds of documents to herself, Vote Leave’s campaign director Dominic Cummings and digital director Henry de Zoete. This led Fair Vote to ask:

Was this an attempt to preserve evidence, or to delete it.

Meanwhile, AIQ’s intellectual property is owned by Mercer.

“A common purpose plan”

Whistleblower Chris Wylie, a former associate of AIQ told a Commons Select Committee on Culture:

I am absolutely convinced that there was a common plan and common purpose with Vote Leave, BeLeave, the DUP, and Veterans for Britain. All of these companies somehow, for some reason, all decided to use AIQ [AggregateIQ]… When you look at the accumulation of evidence, I think it would be completely unreasonable to come to any other conclusion other than this must be coordination, this must be a common purpose plan.

Altogether, Vote Leave paid a total of £3.5m to the Canadian company.

In September 2018, the High Court ruled that Vote Leave had broken the law in its overspend. It did this by paying £625,000 to Darren Grimes for his BeLeave campaign, mostly via AIQ. According to the Electoral Commission, in total, BeLeave spent more than £675,000 with AIQ under a common plan with Vote Leave.

Éminence grise

Enter the ‘evil genius’, as one right-wing tabloid described Dominic Cummings, the mastermind behind the EU referendum’s Vote Leave campaign and who is now special adviser to Johnson:

Here is Cummings, who has been officially declared in contempt of parliament, boasting how he coordinated and helped win Brexit via Vote Leave propaganda:

Cummings is also notorious for writing that:

poor people are poor because they have inferior genes and brains and rich people are rich because they are superior.

It’s all about maths

Vote Leave’s ‘Voter Intention Collection System’ was used to upload sophisticated data models, which predict where Leave voters were likely to be, so that canvassing efforts can be better focused. According to Cummings, the 2016 EU referendum can be summed up as follows:

Changing the course of European history via the referendum only involved about 10 crucial people controlling ~£107 while its effects over ten years could be on the scale of ~108 – 109 people and ~£1012

These calculations are explained in more detail in this document. And on page 11, Cummings provides a breakdown of how social media was used in terms of emails, tweets and texts.

Cummings summed up the overall spend:

We focused most of this money on the last 10 days and on about 9 million ‘persuadables’ – not our core voters – identified by the data science team from a variety of sources with a variety of methods some very simple and some very sophisticated. That group was on the receiving end of a barrage of £350m/NHS/Turkey mostly in a small time window.

Another toxic appointment

Meanwhile, another addition to the Boris Gang is the new digital adviser Chloe Westley, campaign manager of the so-called TaxPayers’ Alliance. As The Canary has reported, she just happens to support Anne-Marie Waters, the co-founder (with fascist ‘Tommy Robinson’) of the UK section of far-right (if not fascist) Pegida.

And it appears that Matthew Elliott, the former Vote Leave CEO, may also be installed in Downing Street, to help run (or ruin?) the country’s economy:

Matthew Elliott, who is also editor-in-chief of Brexit Central and the founder of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, went on to join with Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) and others to develop a UK voter database.

The coup complete

As well as Johnson, other politicians listed as committee members of Vote Leave include Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Theresa Villiers and Priti Patel. All are now prominent members in the Boris Gang cabinet. Hard Brexit European Research Group (ERG) chair Jacob Rees-Mogg has been appointed Leader of the House of Commons.

And with all the key players in place, it was unsurprising that far-right Guido Fawkes tweeted his delight:

In effect, Vote Leave HQ is now 10 Downing Street.

War cabinet

But this is no government in the usual sense. It is a coup that has probably been at least three years in the making.

Referring to Cummings, BeLeave whistleblower Shahmir Sanni neatly sums it up:

In the meantime, every gaffe or lie uttered by Johnson needs to be exposed, if the electorate has any chance of basing its voting intentions on some degree of truth. For the sole objectives of the Boris Gang are not just to deliver a far-right Brexit, but to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party does not form the next (socialist) government.

Moreover, for the Boris Gang, Brexit is merely an expansion of their ongoing class war, with the main beneficiaries likely to be those businesses or Leave backers and Brexiteers who hide their wealth offshore. Ultimately, they want to maximise profits by eroding workers’ rights, consumer rights, and environmental protections. And if a Tory Brexit is allowed to proceed further, we could see more years of cutbacks and higher prices, as well as poverty, homelessness, suicides, and the decimation of the NHS and social care.

The war for what the UK is really about has now begun in earnest. And it’s going to get even nastier.

Featured image via WhoWhatWhy/Flickr

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support