Behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal is the dark money of British and US elites

Camb analytica/may trump
Fréa Lockley

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.

Establishment

The Channel 4 News film claims to lay bare the processes used by Cambridge Analytica:

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But Cambridge Analytica is just one company owned by the far larger SCL Group. As journalist Liam O’Hare pointed out:

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:

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:

Theresa May’s government apparently looked to Cambridge Analytica only months before calling a snap general election in 2017:

And it seems the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) also paid for similar services:

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”:

A senior advisor at the United Nations made the links explicit:

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.

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