The scandal around Cambridge Analytica is growing. And it scrapes the barrel of both the British and US elites.
On 17 March, The Observer revealed that the data analytics company employed by Donald Trump’s election campaign and the Brexit Leave team ‘harvested’ millions of Facebook profiles. Then, on 19 March, a Channel 4 News feature further exposed the dealings of the company. Alexander Nix, head of Cambridge Analytica, allegedly offered to discredit political rivals, arrange smear campaigns, and use sex workers to entrap political opponents. But these allegations are just the tip of the iceberg.
The Channel 4 News film claims to lay bare the processes used by Cambridge Analytica:
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 19, 2018
Let's not forget Cambridge Analytica is a mere offshoot of SCL group, which lists the Ministry of Defence among its clients. Board members include an array of Lords, Tory donors and ex-UK army officers. This is scandal that cuts to the heart of the British establishment.
— Liam O'Hare (@Liam_O_Hare) March 19, 2018
SCL has reportedly been around since 1993. But it launched publicly in 2005 at Defense Systems & Equipment International (DSEi) – the world’s largest arms fair. At this point, SCL described itself as the “first private-sector provider of psychological operations”. The launch was quite spectacular:
SCL Group showcased to potential clients at the DSEi arms fair in 2005. The pitch included a demonstration of how the UK government could use the media to fool the British people into the thinking a chemical plant accident had occurred which threatened central London. Genuinely.
— Liam O'Hare (@Liam_O_Hare) March 20, 2018
They now claim to:
have conducted behavioral change programs in over 60 countries & have been formally recognized for our work in defense & social change.
As The Canary previously reported, concerns about Cambridge Analytica are not new. But its links to the SCL Group, and the key players in the company, show quite how deep these companies are entrenched in the British establishment. Major shareholders reportedly include:
- Lord Peter Marland, former parliamentary under-secretary (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).
- Roger Gabb, Conservative Party donor.
- Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Pattie, Conservative MP until 1997.
- Nigel Oakes, old Etonian and former boyfriend of Lady Helen Windsor.
- Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, DSEI chairman, SCL director in 2007.
- Alexander Nix, old Etonian,
As one solicitor said:
#CambridgeAnalytica Alexander Nix is an old Etonian? Truly remarkable what damage one school can do to a country, if not the globe. A sort of advert for it, I suppose. ‘Eton, producer of the most self-obsessed, amoral, power hungry fuckwits in the world’.
— Nearly Legal (@nearlylegal) March 19, 2018
Theresa May’s government apparently looked to Cambridge Analytica only months before calling a snap general election in 2017:
Here is the Daily Mail article boasting about Theresa May plotting with Cambridge Analytica just 3months before the Snap General Election was called.. just astonishing https://t.co/TkPeif2hbt
— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) March 20, 2018
And it seems the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) also paid for similar services:
The invoices which show DUP paid AggregateIQ – closely linked to #CambridgeAnalytica – for both EU referendum (£32,750) and March 2017 NI Assembly election (£12,071). #CambridgeAnalyticaUncovered pic.twitter.com/twtLdYNyRw
— Patrick Corrigan (@PatrickCorrigan) March 19, 2018
But SCL has links with key players in the US political scene, too.
Bannon and Breitbart
Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, was “political adviser” to Robert Mercer – a US hedge fund billionaire. Mercer reportedly invested: $15m into Cambridge Analytica; $10m into Bannon’s right-wing Breitbart media site; and donated $24.6m to the Republican Party in 2016. Also in 2016, Mercer and his daughter apparently introduced Bannon to Donald Trump. This was a perfect mix because:
Bannon’s greatest contribution may not have been his populist instincts and strategic brain but the “secret sauce” of his patron’s new technology firm that could identify the personality types of key swing voters that could find silent Trump supporters and deliver them to the ballot box.
Commentators have taken to Twitter to expose links that place Mercer “at the heart of all this”:
Robert Mercer is at the heart of all of this. His dark money flowing through the veins of an international company, using stolen data, to elect a demagogue. pic.twitter.com/CkTS4rlprE
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) March 17, 2018
A senior advisor at the United Nations made the links explicit:
Robert Mercer of Cambridge Analytica is Trump's largest financial supporter. He parked his $75M yacht next Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev's yacht a few months ago. US and Russian billionaires installed Trump, hoping to consolidate a global organized crime syndicate. pic.twitter.com/2mKIvQUI9w
— James McGowan (@jamsmcgowan) March 17, 2018
As this scandal rolls on, it seems to lift the lid on the levels of deceit at the heart of politics in both the UK and the US. It remains to be seen if the key players will manage to use their wealth and establishment connections to crawl further into the political woodwork. But this could just mark a turning point to finally shine light on the dark layers of corruption.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
– Read and support other independent media outlets:
Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Red Pepper, New Internationalist, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, The Skwawkbox, Salford Star, The Ferret.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?