Tory abuse of public funds: Cheshire PCC

Tory John Dwyer was elected as Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in May this year (2021).  A month later he appointed a deputy PPC.  Deputy PCC is a salaried role paid by Warrington council tax payers.

Dwyer appointed his election campaign manager David McNeilage as deputy. 

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John Dwyer (left) and David McNeilage

Conservative libertarian McNeilage has been a professional Tory lackey all his adult life starting as campaign manager for a council ward in Warrington in 2011 when he was a member of (discontinued) Warrington Conservative Future.  His gofering for MPs included working for Vicky Ford in 2018.

All the jobs he had were party jobs.  He was employed by the Tory party to work for the Tory party and he was paid by the Tory party.

His appointment as deputy PCC is different. 

  1. When deputising for PCC he is supposed to represent all residents of Cheshire regardless of their respective political views or affiliations
  2. The salary of deputy PCC is not paid by Tory party; it is paid by residents

Dwyer’s decision to appoint his campaign manager to a publicly-paid and (supposedly) impartial position was a typical example of Tory contempt for the electorate and of Tory abuse of public funding.

In an additional dump on the people of Cheshire Dwyer said of McNeilage that “his knowledge of the process of government is highlighted by his time working in Parliament for a local MP.”  What the hell has the role of PCC or deputy PCC got to do with “knowledge of the process of government?”

Snapshots of who (or what) McNeilage is
In 2013, McNeilage defended a Daily Mail article that attacked Ralph Miliband: “To be honest, it’s really no different from the Guardian claiming that David Cameron hates the disabled.”  As prime minister Cameron destroyed livelihoods and lives of tens of thousands of people with disabilities via Tories’ Social Murder policy.

Later in the same year McNeilage paraded his libertarianism: “Generation Y [people born in 1980s and 1990s] may be the most Libertarian yet.  We should remove all anti-discrimination legislation, all speech restrictions.  Dislike for Section 5 of the Public Order Act is universal among Libertarians.  Personal choice routinely gets shafted when Governments intervene with quasi-fairness legislation.  My personal bug bear is the Minimum Wage Act.”

McNeilage has, so far, been a relative failure as a Tory careerist libertarian but he is one of thousands of Tories around the UK who receive payment for alleged public roles but have no skills or experience to do the job.  

Corruption is routine for Tories.  They cannot exist without it.  They have a psychological objection to avoiding it.

 

Tory abuse of public funds: Cheshire PCC

Libertarian protagonists: Matthew Elliott

Matthew Elliott is a key sprocket in the economic libertarian machine that seeks hegemony of corporate exploitation and control.  To achieve its aim the machine needs destruction of democratic obstruction.

With determined obfuscation and dishonesty Elliott refuses to reveal sources of funding and income for himself and for lobby groups and think-tanks he founded or for whom he works or worked.

He understands the aim of his unnamed benefactors and he knows he needs to focus his time on lobbying and directing governments to develop policies and enact law changes that ensure continuous and growing concentration of wealth.

Elliott assesses what a democratically elected government is able to do depending on whatever checks and balances exist and on binding international agreements or treaties.  All aspects of society and all state roles therein are targets.  

His direction of government policy and law changes is always accompanied by presentation that manipulates public perception of the policies and the changes to the law.  It is vital that every decision made by a government to enhance concentration of wealth is perceived as something different (often the opposite) by the public. 

There exists a constant feed of soundbites, fraudulent arguments, distraction rebuttals and circular inconclusive rhetoric from libertarian lobby groups and think-tanks to government ministers to be used as tools to misrepresent aims of policy and/or as fog, and the feed tubes have offshoots to newspapers, broadcasters and libertarian PR organisations who all, in a timely way, back-up government presentation.  None of the participants at any end of the tubes are distinct: Current and former MPs are members of (or created) think-tanks and lobby groups; members of the latter pose as journalists and are appointed as government advisers; ex-MPs are employed by newspapers and broadcasters.  

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(l-r) Spectator’s Andrew Neil (now GB News), David Cameron (then prime minister) and Fraser Nelson (Centre For Policy Studies)

Structure and mendacious descriptions of pro-wealth concentration government policy are developed meticulously.  The interconnected libertarian think-tanks and lobby groups invest time and resources over many years touching on all areas of government control – taxation, public services, housing, employment law, company law, human rights, access to justice, education, etc. – in order to devise how to channel wealth to the wealthiest and how to disguise that process so it appears to be leading to different outcomes that are to the public’s advantage

Elliott’s interest in extreme economics and how to create support for it began at London School of Economics (LSE) where he was president of the Hayek Society.  Friedrich Hayek is a popular reference point for pseudo-educated libertarian sociopaths who feel too superior to worship Ayn Rand. 

His first political job after his degree was press officer at European Foundation, a lobby group created to campaign for UK to leave the EU decades before the 2016 referendum, whose director at that time, Andrew Rosindell (now a Tory MP), said of Augusto Pinochet that when he was its dictator “Chile turned into a free society where people were able to prosper.  I have huge admiration for General Pinochet.”

A rapid step from education to in situ at an extremist think-tank is typical of libertarian protagonists.  LSE is among several universities and private indoctrination institutions that inculcate free-racketeer political philosophy and associated con tricks.  For the disciples a career preaching and teaching libertarianism can be lucrative.

Tax-Payers’ Alliance
Elliott co-founded Tax-Payers’ Alliance (TPA) in 2004.  Aping similar think-tanks in USA TPA seeks obliteration of tax for the wealthiest.  With acute insincerity, it claims to want to reduce tax bills for everyone.  Its literature and rhetoric is dominated by attacks on government financial support for any necessary part of people’s lives including education, healthcare, housing and welfare.  It is vehemently opposed to the existence of public services.  Not a single word written or spoken by TPA members and contributors is honest or compatible with humanity.

In 2010, when employed as a columnist for Guardian, Elliott used the excuse of alleged ongoing consequences of the 2008 financial “crash” as an opportunity to attack trades’ unions and to demand even lower wages for public sector workers.  

In public sector pay he claimed there existed a “fiscal crisis facing Britain.”  His free-racketeer explanation of the “crisis” was dependent on extreme capitalism’s false presentation of the world of money, costs and “debt.” 

He referred to Greece being “bailed out.”  The reality was Greece was robbed by stateless “creditors” demanding money not owed and the “bail out” was imposition of further “debt.”

Elliott used “default” to describe when a government is unwilling or unable to repay “borrowed” money.  “Government borrowing,” “default” and “government debt” are phrases invented by exploiters whose philosophy is exactly the same as mobsters demanding “protection” payments. 

He imagined the following three decades (from 2010 on) as a lucrative source of billions of unearned income for “creditors” (possibly including major donors to TPA.)

The Bank for International Settlements project that, without serious changes, public sector debt will be more than 200% of our GDP by 2020, and over 500% by 2040. They project we will then be spending 27% of our GDP on government debt interest.”

According to Elliott’s world, where “lenders” are magically outside of nations and outside of society, “no one is going to lend the government any money if our debts are anywhere near that unaffordable.”

Having established his warped and acutely deceitful premise, Elliott used that invention as motivation to demand wage cuts for workers.  “Cuts will need to include some action on public sector pay and benefits.”  Although he begrudging accepted that the “crash” was not “the fault of ordinary public sector workers” he said “they should definitely get a pay cut.”

Elliott was keen to absolve culprits of blame and declared that they should be protected. 

Tax avoidance is one of those things every government would like to reduce, but attempts to do so can cause greater losses if they are too draconian. The ludicrous estimates of total avoidance thrown around by the unions are often based on treating legitimate use of reliefs as avoidance.”
The unions pin the blame on bankers but the reality is that our structural deficits are simply the result of politicians spending too much of our money.”

Campaigns by major trades unions to address government income were, predictably, attacked by tax-dodgers’ friend Elliott.  “They [unions] construct a fantasy world in which tax hikes on the rich, or crackdowns on avoidance, constitute an adequate response to the fiscal crisis.”

His comments in the Guardian in 2010, published fourteen days after the general election that led to a Tory/Lib Dem “coalition” government and the first non-Labour government for thirteen years, encapsulated Elliott and TPA’s constructed vision of the world and demonstrated in which direction they think flow of wealth should travel.

In an article for TPA in 2011 Elliott saidThe Government needs to cut spending, get rid of burdensome regulations and cut taxes to get the economy going and leave more taxpayers’ money in their own pockets.”  His assertion, in intent and in language (“get the economy going“), was standard libertarian rhetoric.  In a single sentence, he asked for an assault on public services, removal of rights – workers’ rights, human rights, health and safety regulations – and even more tax cuts and dodges for the wealthiest but he presented his argument as if concerned about tax cuts for the majority of people. 

TPA, including Elliot, described its desire for tax cuts via the concoction of a ‘2020 Tax Commission’ (2020TC) that published a report in 2012.  Further cuts to the highest rate of tax and abolition of corporation tax alongside huge reductions in “public spending” were the report’s (pre-ordained) conclusions.  Couched in pretense of caring about individuals’ tax bills, it was a template for destruction of society. 

Earlier in 2012 Elliott stated that “bold, pro-growth measures are what’s needed, and that means reducing spending to cut taxes” in order to “kickstart the economy.”  “Pro-growth” and “kickstart the economy” are a conman’s patter and have no meaning.  The only growth he wants is greater wealth concentration.

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Elliott at the door of Tax-Payers’ Alliance at 55 Tufton Street, London

Over the following decade (2010-2020) successive Tory governments destroyed public services, used them as a means of channelling money to made-up businesses masquerading as running public services, annihilated workers’ rights, eroded human rights and created more tricks for the wealthiest to dodge tax but tax bills for the majority of people were not reduced. 

Elliott’s status as “one of the foremost political campaigners working in Westminster” (Biz Club), “one of the most formidable political strategists in Westminster” (Financial Times),one of the most successful and feared campaigners in British politics” (New Statesman), one of the most effective lobbyists at Westminster” (BBC) and “one of the most talented policy entrepreneurs in the country” (Legatum Insitute) is deserved criticism.  The people quoted meant their comments as praise but they are damnations of Elliott and of the customers of his verbose expositions of and guide to presentation of the conservative scam.

The development of his skillset began before his attitudes were cultivated at the LSE factory.  At (£14,000 per annum) Leeds Grammar School a teacher suggested Elliott read Milton and Rose Friedman’s book ‘Free to Choose.’  That book advocated extreme libertarian fiscal policy including removal of most taxation and the replacement of welfare provision with indebtedness imposed on the people least able to repay a debt.  It argued that the American public falsely perceived the depression (of the 1930s) to be a result of a failure of capitalism rather than, as the Friedmans claimed, the result of ineptitude of particular capitalists.  Blaming constant failures of capitalism on “errors” by governments and not on the intrinsic faults of the system is a relentlessly repeated con-trick by conservatives.

On a visit to his old school in 2015 Elliott spouted contentless pseudo-motivational drivel to current pupils: “Be the producer and director of your own movie” and “in life people should be agents of change; when you come to assess your life think about what difference you’ve made.”  His remarks resonated private school unearned superiority.  He never has and never will “think about the difference he’s made” to the destruction of livelihoods and lives via governments’ impositions of policies he recommended.

Climate change
Fuel industries, agribusiness, associated industries and financial backers, “investors” and creditors are notoriously fearful of change and will, without any consideration of consequences, do all they can to protect their immediate source of profit including pumping money into networks of nested think-tanks and lobby groups to pay for campaigning against developments in environmental-friendly industries.  

Elliott is sharp enough to know that blatant climate change denial is an unworkable political position.  His semi-public persona, public within the boundaries of political, media, think-tank and proto-academia bubbles, requires him to be promoted as separate from and above lumpen blinkered conservative deniers of man-made climate change. 

His strategy is to protect the free-racketeer industry from paying for necessary adjustments to help fight climate change while also finding extra income sources for the same industry for spuriously supporting the fight.

He complained about government spending on the switch to “green” energy supply.  “In just three months at the start of this year [2012], the Department of Energy and Climate Change increased staff numbers by four per cent, with 113 extra staff.”

He complained about costs to the “energy sector” of regulations related to climate change.  2020TC said “domestic fuel and power prices are substantially inflated by climate regulations.  Citigroup expects that electricity prices would have to rise by over fifty per cent by 2020 to pay for the over two hundred billion of investment needed in the energy sector to meet current environmental targets.” (p.355)  Of course, it was inconceivable for TPA to suggest such extra costs should be met by “owners” of the “energy sector” businesses, or that there would be no such difficulties if the businesses were unprivatised.

For all necessities of life exploiters see opportunities for huge income for themselves.  Healthcare, energy and water supply, education and transport attract parasites who know, for each necessity because it is necessary, there will be a steady and large supply of unearned income, either from government hand-outs or from customer purchases. 

Tackling climate change becomes a bigger challenge and a more acute necessity every year and so the wealthiest want to ensure that they get front and centre and use the challenge to their financial advantage.

To help wealthy people make money out of environmental improvements Elliott concocted a crafty ruse.  In October 2020 he announced he would hand “two cheques for £10,000” to people “under the age of thirty-five with an exciting idea or contribution to policy debate.”  He suggested recipients might, for example, be starting a think-tank or lobby group, or writing a book or extended think-tank report, or setting up a website.  He stated that “we are looking for submissions on any issue, policy or subject that you feel passionate about.”  (By “we” he meant the “owners” of Brexit Central website.)

All submissions will be sifted and judged by a panel comprising Jonathan [Isaby] [TPA, Brexit Central, Politeia, Conservative Home, Telegraph] and I, plus Kate Andrews [Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Smith Institute, Spectator], Peter Cruddas [banker, Vote Leave], Georgiana Bristol [Brexit Central, TPA, Vote Leave], Helena Morrissey [finance industry], Jon Moynihan [Initiative for Free Trade, Vote Leave] and Mark Wallace [Conservative Home, TPA, The Freedom Association].”

On December 22nd 2020 the successful “applicants” were revealed.  One was British Conservation Alliance (BCA).  BCA is “dedicated to empowering the next generation to engage with the principles of pro-market environmentalism and conservation, and acts to champion market-based solutions to environmental problems.” 

In a paper for BCA, Amin Haque said fighting climate change should be left to billionaires like Jeff Bezos.  “If the wealthy compete in their philanthropy then there are better outcomes for all.  The end product, findings, and conclusions are what should motivate climate activists to support billionaire philanthropy.  Solutions scalable to the scope of climate change come from those with capital, and we should welcome it.”  Haque forgot to mention that if Bezos paid tax then no-one would need his “philanthropy.”

BCA was created to try to push aside climate action organisations that have a anti-capitalist perspective and to counteract the prevailing (and accurate) narrative that capitalism in its present form is incompatible with effective action against climate change.  BCA is a protector of free-market.  It follows a common theme of libertarian think-tanks and lobby groups who pretend the free market is supportive of something it opposes and then further claim the free market is the only way to achieve an objective, with the dual objective of 1) reducing anti-free-market political attitudes by absolving the market of blame and 2) promoting major corporations into place so they receive any available income to “tackle” a problem.

Elliott’s competition ruse succeeded in transferring cash (tax-free) from one mendacious libertarian lobby group (Brexit Central) to another (BCA).  Before “winning” his competition BCA already had close connections with the Tory government, it had arranged a presentation via the Tory party for COP24, its advisers included former Home secretary Amber Rudd and its “partners” included Initiative for Free Trade, a think-tank created by former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and by Daniel Hannan.  BCA was the opposite of a grassroots start-up or an organisation with a “proposal” when Elliott and his friends awarded it a prize.

Brexit, Charter Cities and data mining
Brexit was designed as and is being pursued as a heist.  The heist plan was not a sudden decision after the referendum result in June 2016.  It existed long before. 

Elliott’s employment at European Foundation began in 2000.  As stated earlier, that was his first professional political role.  He was placed there because he had shown proficiency at university, and previously at his private school, in his understanding of the economic extremism of Hayek, in his willingness to pursue that extremism without pause, reflection or doubt, and in his aptitude to present the extremism in friendly usable chunks for politicians to con the public.

In 2009 he co-wrote Great European Rip-Off, a general attack on EU’s existence and practices.

Why was departure from EU of such keen interest to extreme practitioners of Hayek’s economic philosophy? 

They did not view Brexit from the same viewpoint as, say, Nigel Farage whose motivation was a rancid mix of prejudices and grifting. 

They did not perceive Brexit to be a woolly undefined re-grasping of illusory “sovereignty.”

They sought departure from the EU because over four decades UK’s laws and regulations on many vital issues – human rights, legal rights, workers’ rights, democratic rights – were bound to EU’s legal systems and, once out, not only would commitments to EU “checks and balances” evaporate overnight but also there would be no equivalent in British law or constitution because all such protections were designed as part of EU. 

Why would they want that scenario?

Baker Street Herald (BSH) explained why in Case 1 – The Tabula Rasa – A Clean Slate.  A “clean slate” means no legal or constitutional obstacles to fascistic control and to accompanying annihilation of effective government.  As BSH explained, Hayek’s Road To Serfdom and William Rees Mogg’s The Sovereign Individual are templates for what the gang of pro-Brexit libertarians want to see in UK.  (William Rees-Mogg is the father of performative Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.)

This blind faith in disrupting democracy and demolishing regulations is shared by many people of influence across the world, including libertarian former Australian Prime Minister now working for Daniel Hannan’s IFT, Tony Abbott, who are helping make this book’s [The Sovereign Individual] highly disturbing themes become reality.” – Baker Street Herald

The aim is the creation of Charter Cities, or Enterprise Cities, or even to reduce all of the UK to a Charter Territory, and to make UK part of an international network of such places.  In these territories law is the responsibility, and the whim, of corporate owners; every single aspect of society is not guaranteed.

The ‘Clean Slate’ case study by BSH detailed the history of the development of the concept of Charter territories, how they will operate and who are the protagonists directing governments to enact policies that allow their creation.  Alongside chancellor Rishi Sunak, Elliott and Hannan a key participant is Shanker Singham whose think-tank involvement extends to Legatum Institute for whom Elliott worked.

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Shanker Singham

Sovereignty” was the absolute opposite of what libertarians desired from Brexit.  They sought the destruction of the state, the destruction of democracy in UK.  For economic fascists Brexit was as if all their Christmasses arrived at once.

Elliott co-invented (with Dominic Cummings) Vote Leave (VL) as soon as then prime minister David Cameron announced a referendum on membership of the EU would take place. 

VL never sought to submit a coherent analysis of why people should vote for Brexit or what would be Brexit’s consequences.  In an interview with Serbian training facility Libertarijankski Klub (Libertarian Club), or Libek, on 6th July 2016 (a couple of weeks after the EU referendum) Elliott elucidated with absolute clarity his contempt for democracy and elections.

The trick for the Vote Leave campaign, then, is to take all of those concerns [of voters] and turn them into short, consistent messages that we can use to convince swing voters.  In order to do that, we have undertaken extensive analysis, market research and polling to find out how we can best phrase all of these issues in a language that people can understand and that will persuade undecided voters.”

He viewed a vital referendum as a competition in which his role was to use a honed set of manipulative skills to con voters.  His perspective was unsurprising since the niceties of whether or not UK should remain in EU (if any exist) were of no interest to him.  He supported Brexit purely to facilitate the clean slate. 

After Brexit Elliott said “Brexit provides us with an opportunity to promote global prosperity by strengthening free trade.”  By “free trade” he meant the freedom of international businesses to exploit across borders free from regulations and rights.

VL’s strategy was a combination of lies (£350,000 per week extra for NHS after Brexit – written on the side of a bus), presentation of bad policy as good policy (extrication from EU courts’ laws), anti-arithmetic explanations of financial gains versus losses from leaving EU (alleged savings due to contributions to EU budget ending were not balanced by VL by much greater losses due to border closures and flight of international businesses from UK), performative tactics (disrupting meetings of pro-EU organisations) and manipulation of the law on campaign funding.

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Vote Leave propaganda

Laws limited campaign spending for EU referendum.  To circumvent them VL “donated” £675,315.18 to pro-Brexit campaign group BeLeave that was passed on to Canadian data firm AggregateIQ (AIQ) to help with data mining for the Brexit campaign via the use of AIQ’s Ripon software platform.  BeLeave shared an office with VL who described it as an outreach group.  As a consequence Electoral Commission fined VL a paltry £60,000.

VL made its own “donations” to AIQ; the latter received £3,500,000 from various pro-Brexit campaign groups for data mining services.  Cummings stated that “without a doubt, the Vote Leave campaign owes a great deal of its success to the work of AIQ.  We couldn’t have done it without them.”

AIQ, originally called SCL Canada, part of SCL Elections Limited, was set-up by the same people who created Cambridge Analytica, another subsidiary of SCL Elections. 

In September 2018 AIQ was issued with a General Data Protection Regulation notice by the (UK) Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that said “the controller [AIQ] has processed personal data in a way that the data subjects were not aware of, for purposes which they would not have expected, and without a lawful basis for that processing.  Furthermore, the processing was incompatible with the purposes for which the data was originally collected.” 

According to ICO, the data in question was held by AIQ on behalf of “Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans For Britain and DUP Vote To Leave.”

As part of AIQ’s contact with these political organisations, AIQ have been provided with personal information including names and e-mail addresses of UK individuals.  This personal information was then used to target individuals with political advertising messages on social media.” – ICO

In November 2019 the Federal Privacy Commissioner in Canada made similar observations about AIQ.  “When the company [AIQ] used and disclosed the personal information of Vote Leave supporters to Facebook it went beyond the purposes for which Vote Leave had consent to use that information.  This contravened British Columbia and Canadian privacy laws.”

AIQ’s disconnect from the law did not bother VL.

USA connections and influences
From 2017 to early 2018 Elliott was a partner at USA data mining business Awareness Analytics Partners (A2P) who claim to be “experts in understanding and utilizing influence, enhancing online messaging and delivering groundbreaking social media advertising results.  We map the networks of your most engaged audience members and then micro-target your ads to the people most likely to take your desired action.  Our market testing protocol uses ‘micro-buys’ to identify the correct target audience.

A2P supported the development of the Vote Spotter application developed at libertarian Koch-funded Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Missouri.  On May 5th 2017 Elliott was guest speaker at a Mackinac event.  In his speech he admitted that his skills as a conman were influenced and inspired by people he met when working with Grover Norquist’s Americans For Tax Reform.  “I have come to USA for over fourteen years to learn my campaign techniques and to learn how to set up a new taxpayer group from Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform.”

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Grover Norquist

In 2010 USA libertarian organisations Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity attended a conference in London with similarly minded European think-tanks and lobby groups including TPA.  Costs for the conference were met by other USA think-tanks Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation.  In relation to the conference Elliott said “we [TPA] need to learn from our European colleagues and the Tea Party movement in the US.  It will be fascinating to see whether it will transfer to the UK.  Will there be the same sort of uprising?”  The “uprising” comment referred to organised marches by Tea Party activists in USA that pretended to be a consequence of “grassroots” reaction to USA (Democrat) government decisions.

Elliott’s keenness to continue to learn new tricks and expand his skillset is balanced by equal keenness to pass onto others what he developed.  Connections and exchanges of personnel between think-tanks across borders were and are the norm.  The practitioners know that all online information is international, that media is international and that corporations are international or post-national.  It would be absurd for the promotional, marketing and PR wings of such corporations and their financial backers to be restricted to individual countries. 

At a personal level Elliott married Sarah Smith, a USA citizen.  She worked for Americans For Tax Reform, Republican Party major donor programme and Americans For Prosperity and is chair of Republicans Overseas.  Her experience of acquiring money from wealthy donors is useful for Elliott as is her access to UK government ministers via being chair of Republicans Overseas.

Atlas Network is a worldwide community of libertarian think-tanks and lobby groups but based in USA.  It shares ideas, information, personnel, communication techniques and campaign skills, and expedites cross border flow of funding, most of which is tax exempt and/or deductible and hidden.

The bulk of Atlas funding comes from wealthy donors based in USA.  A donor conduit, Donors Trust, owned by Koch, hands more than a million dollars to Atlas every year.  The chain through which donations pass ensures anonymity for the original donors. 

American Friends Of IEA, part of Atlas and registered at the same address, exists to provide funds for Institute Of Economic Affairs (IEA) in UK.

Atlas claimed its partner Epicentre is a Brussels-based network of European think-tanks.  It is in fact a subsidiary of IEA.

Elliott is a mentor at Atlas.  Both TPA and Big Brother Watch (also co-founded by Elliott) are part of Atlas network.

Other think-tanks, lobby groups and data businesses
Political think-tanks and lobby groups are registered as charities in order to dodge tax and to hide donors’ identities.  TPA is registered as a charity as is Politics and Economics Research Trust (PERT) created by Elliott in 2016. 

PERT “advances the education of the public and in particular to promote for the public benefit research into matters of public taxation, public policy, applied economics and political science and to disseminate the useful results thereof.” 

What PERT actually does is act as a conduit for tax-deductible “donations” – because PERT is a “charity” – to be passed via PERT to other think-tanks and lobby groups that are also “charities.”  Eight out of twelve of its “published research” papers are by other libertarian think-tanks including Big Brother Watch (3), Centre For Policy Studies (1), Centre For Progressive Capitalism (1), Centre For Social Justice (1) and IEA (2).

Charity Commission investigated PERT twice, first in 2011 following “grants” of £505,000 paid by PERT to TPA; at the time Elliott was secretary of PERT and chief executive of TPA. 

The second Charity Commission investigation was in 2015 following a payment of £50,000 from PERT to Business For Britain (BFB) to produce an anti-EU report ‘Change Or Go.’  The Commission said “charities with objects to further education cannot promote a political or predetermined point of view” and BFB had to repay the money.  Elliot had left PERT by 2015 but he founded BFB two years earlier.

From 2012 to 2014 Elliott was an active shareholder in another data mining business WESS Digital alongside Paul Staines, owner of far-right blogsite Guido Fawkes.  Using its database Metis WESS sought to collect information on people’s political views and pass the details to interested parties.  “Once there are two, three or more campaigns for each specific client, there’s lots more we can extrapolate about the user’s behaviour and that’s the bit that is really worth sharing,” said co-owner Jag Singh.

Elliott was on Advisory Committee of New Culture Forum (NCF), a hideous “culture war” concoction by former deputy leader of UKIP Peter Whittle.  Whittle founded NCF in 2006 before it was fashionable to be a warped colonial revivalist obsessed with flags, statues and the royal family.  NCF has a subsidiary called Save Our Statues.

Friendly good manners
In George Eaton’s interview with Elliott for New Statesman, in which the latter was described as “one of the most successful and feared campaigners in British politics,” Eaton called Elliott “polite” and “affable.”  That choice of words stemmed from Elliott’s PR box of con tricks and from Eaton’s erroneous respect for a fellow recipient of a expensive private education.  (The highest fees at Eaton’s Berkhamsted School are £35,000 per annum.)

Most conmen are “polite” and “affable.”  Those are necessary invented traits.

Eaton was easily and willingly put at ease by “politeness” and “affability” and, thus, the interview was smooth, undemanding and essentially a platform for Elliott.

Elliott can be “polite” as he accepts a huge wad of cash from an extreme exploiter and uses the money to spend time devising methods for governments to contrive policies that give exploiters what they crave and devising concomitant methods of communication of the policies so the public think something entirely different is happening.  And, lo, public services have disappeared, workers’ rights have disappeared, human rights have disappeared, access to justice has disappeared, welfare provision has disappeared, and the wealthiest suddenly “own” things they didn’t pay for and everyone else is in debt to invisible creditors.

Elliott can be “polite” as society and democracy are destroyed for the benefit of wealthy elite. 

Economic libertarians, the disciples of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, do not belong with the rest of us.

Recommended reading
Baker Street Herald
DeSmog on Elliott
Molly Scott Cato on Elliott
Andy Beckett on The Sovereign Individual

Related blogs
Think-tanks
Lbertarian protagonists: Chloe Westley
Brexit: The most lucrative heist in the history of civilisation

 

 

Libertarian protagonists: Matthew Elliott

Libertarian protagonists: Chloe Westley

Chloe Westley is Boris Johnson’s Special Adviser.

On 20th February 2018, when campaign manager at Tax-Payers’ Alliance (TPA), Westley and three of her TPA colleagues visited Warrington.  They stood in the town centre and tried to persuade inhabitants of Cromwell’s town that lower taxes (or no taxes) for wealthy people would solve everyone’s problems and that the town’s Labour council was to blame for everything rather than eight years of Tory government.

WestleyWarrington2
Shahmir Sanni, Chloe Westley, Harry Fone and Dave Thomas in Warrington

TPA is a 55 Tufton Street libertarian think-tank that creates and promotes policies designed to enhance the wealth of the wealthiest.  Its purpose is to assist extremely wealthy people and businesses in avoidance of tax.  It called tax havens “low-tax jurisdictions” and “international financial centres.”  Like all such think-tanks a key facet of its methodology is to misrepresent nefariously its aims and concomitant aims of conservative politicians. 

TPA is very secretive and dishonest about its donors.  On 6th August 2018, as a paid employee of Conservative Home website, Westley presented a wholly untrue description of TPA: “The truth is, we’re a team of ten and have the operating budget of a local pub.  We’re funded by thousands of people, many of whom give less than £100.  Our press team is just me and my colleague, James Price.”  Two months later Rob Evans, David Pegg and Felicity Lawrence revealed that “TPA has received at least US$286,000 (£223,300) from US-based donors in the last five years, including US$100,000 originating from a billionaire-founded religious trust incorporated in the Bahamas.”  TPA is part of Atlas Network who awarded TPA US$100,000 in 2013.

55TuftonStreet
55 Tufton Street, home of Tax-Payers’ Alliance

As part of TPA’s ‘Stand Against Socialism’ (SAS) programme she complained that “socialist and communist countries generally do not allow for the free exchange of ideas.”  To back-up her statement Westley mentioned “communist” North Korea, the Russian revolution of over a hundred years ago and Venezuela’s battle against anti-democratic terrorists led by Juan Guaidó. 

As Boris Johnson’s Special Adviser did Westley object to any of the following restrictions on “free exchange of ideas?”

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel’s intent to outlaw political protest
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s direct intervention in teaching to censor politically what texts can be used in lessons
  • Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s interference in information provided by heritage organisations and locations to ensure they do not give a full historical account
  • Housing, Communities and Local Government minister Robert Jenrick’s interference in councils’ decisions regarding erection or removal of statues of political figures
  • Several Tory cabinet members’ opposition to footballers taking a knee  

The answer is “No.” 

She did not object to proposals in this year’s Queens Speech that are part of a determined attack on freedom and democracy by the Tory government.

  • Judicial Review Bill will severely restrict the capability of legal challenges to government decisions
  • Electoral Integrity Bill will demand photo identification in order to vote.  It is straightforward, unambiguous voter suppression and will affect disproportionately non-Tory voters
  • Online Safety Bill will censor social media use
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Juan Guaidó, terrorising

Venezuela has a democratically elected socialist government.  It has the largest reserves of oil in the world.  Minor Venezuelan opposition politician and professional far-right grifter Juan Guaidó is a well-paid puppet of other governments (including USA and UK) and of financial institutions who act on behalf of major oil companies against Venezuela.  He helped them to steal Venezuelan money (and gold) and he attempted a military coup that was dealt with expediently.  

In her SAS article Westley wrote approvingly of Guaidó’s terrorism: “Juan Guaidó, who has been recognised as the legitimate leader of Venezuela by more than 50 countries including the UK, France and Germany, led the uprising.” 

She spouted the familiar counterfeit argument of blaming Venezuelan government for economic problems that resulted from political sanctions (including theft) imposed by other countries.  The sanctions are a means of trying to undermine the Venezuelan government and install a government that will work for oil companies’ profits.

As part of a depiction of socialism as intrinsically violent Westley said “in order to seize ownership of the means of production the state has to use force.”  That was a rare moment of accurate analysis.  To remove the exploiters, thieves and con artists it may be necessary, and often will be the only option, to use whatever force is required. 

University of St. Andrews is the home of The Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) from whom Westley obtained a “certificate” in 2017 in “Counter Terrorism Studies” that included “cyberterrorism, terrorist use of ICT and cybersecurity, key issues in international terrorism, terrorist ideologies, aims, beliefs and motivations, and terrorism and human rights.” 

CSTPV, partially publicly funded, investigates terrorism via “rigorous and sober scholarship” according to its director Tim Wilson.  The extent of “rigour” applied is debatable but its “sobriety” translates as perceiving terrorism distinct from inter-connected state conflicts.  CSTPV’s definition of “political violence” is bounded by a specific worldview whereby “democratic” capitalist states are absolved of wrongdoing.  Its most recent publication, dated 22nd June 2021, discussed right-wing incitement in Israel by describing pro-Israel extremists as separate from the government and as a threat to the new government led by Naftali Bennett.  Meanwhile, Israeli air force’s carpet-bombing of Gaza continues and settler violence and theft of property continues overseen by the Israeli army.

Westley is a director of ‘Museum Of Communist Terror’ (MCT).  It is not a museum.  It is a website and political lobby group.  Uber-ubiquitous Dan Hannan, a participant in many hard-right economic think-tanks and lobby groups and current UK Board Of Trade member, is also a director of MCT as is Eamonn Butler who is a director of extremist think-tank Adam Smith Institute. 

MCT published ‘Communism: A Little Book Of Facts’ that it offerred to “school history teachers who might like to use it for classroom discussion.”  That invasion of political propaganda into schools, supported by the UK prime minister’s Special Adviser, sits beside Education Secretary Williamson’s instruction that schools should not use teaching materials that are not pro-capitalist.

Westley has never shied away from handing solidarity and exposure to extreme-right activists.  She appeared in a promotional video for extremist USA lobby group Turning Point and on 21st July 2016 she asked people to fund For Britain member Anne Marie Waters’s book that claimed “Islam injected our civilisation with poison.” 

WestelyWaters

Anyone who opposes socialism, whatever their other views, will receive approval from Westley.

StuartRobert_env
Stuart Robert MP

Westley’s political career began as election campaigner for Australian politician Stuart Robert. 

Robert, a minister in libertarian Liberal Party governments and close associate of prime minister Scott Morrison, established the privatised Robodebt scam that robbed people of over A$700,000,000 via false demands for repayment of welfare payments.  Separately, when a government website crashed on March 23rd 2020 after a large number of people tried to access information because their employment situation had changed due to Covid-10 pandemic, Robert lied that there had been a DDoS attack on the website.

WestleyScottMorrison
Westely (left) and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison

Westley is an alumnus of Mannkal Economic Education Foundation (MEEF) based in Western Australia and founded by Ron Manners, Executive Chairman of Mannwest Group and founder of Croesus Mining NL, a gold mining company.  Manners founded the short-lived extremist libertarian anti-socialist Progress Party (also called, erroneously, Workers’ Party) in the 1970s.  He is a climate change denier and a fan of Ayn Rand.

MEEF’s stated mission is to “develop future free market leaders to promote free enterprise, limited government and individual initiative for the benefit of all Australians.  The flagship activity at Mannkal is the Leadership Development Program, which provides scholarships to Western Australian university students to attend conferences, participate in study tours and connect with industry both domestically and internationally.  These opportunities allow students to appreciate the role of property rights, common law, free markets and limited government in fostering economic growth and human dignity.”

That is, MEEF is a corporate funded breeding ground for anti-socialist libertarian disciples to infiltrate and direct governments, NGOs and media around the world to destroy public services and infrastructure, remove societal responsibilities and concentrate wealth in the hands of the wealthiest.  Its most recent promotional paper concluded with a quote from Rand.

Westley acquired a degree in philosophy at (discontinued) Heythrop College in London.  (Coincidentally, white supremacist anti-Semite Sebastian Gorka did the same course at the same college twenty years earlier.)

SpecialAdvisers
The Special Advisers in Downing Street.  Who looks the most smug?

Westley possesses sufficient skills to maintain a lucrative career as ‘adviser’ or ‘campaigner’ to whoever is willing to employ her. 

Extreme inculcated dishonesty is the driving force of Westley’s professionalism.  Hypocrisy, verbosity, misdirection and relentless lies are her tools.  Her strategy of persuasion is standard ultra-conservative mendacity.

Embedded securely within the libertarian mire her analysis, ideology and policy advice are underwritten by unfaltering support for continuation of wealth concentration.

Recommended reading 
Tim Lezard for Union News 
Tim Fenton for Zelo Street
Thomas Scripps on MCT 

Gunther Bett

Related blogs
Tax-Payers’ Alliance 
Tory government directing political education in schools 
Oliver Dowden, culture war and selective history 
Robert Jenrick, planning permission and statues 
Queen’s Speech May 2021 
Venezuela: Pick a side

 

Libertarian protagonists: Chloe Westley

Tory government support for GB News

In its first week Andrew Neil’s GB News demonstrated it’s intent to broadcast conspiracy theories and right-wing trash with a parade of extremists and cranks as guests.  Its presenters are libertarian think-tankers and professional far-right grifting screaming heads.  It is as ugly as expected.

Unsurprisingly, the increasingly Trumpian Tory government welcomed and defended GB News.  Cabinet ministers chose to appear as interviewees having avoided both Channel 4 news and ITN news recently, and many Tory MPs published supportive messages.

After several advertisers stated they would remove their adverts from GB News, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and chair of parliamentary committee for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Julian Knight attacked both the businesses who had withdrawn their adverts and left-of-centre organisation Stop Funding Hate; the latter helped with the campaign to persuade advertisers to cancel agreements with GB News.

Dowden: “One of the cornerstones of our liberties is our robust, free and diverse media and GB News is a welcome addition to that diversity.  As we’ve seen this week with the totally unacceptable harassment of a BBC journalist, we cannot take it for granted.  It is up to brands to advertise where they wish, but it would be worrying if they allow themselves to succumb to pressure groups.  They should note that GB News is regulated by Ofcom and held to the same high standards as every other broadcaster in the UK.”

Knight: “This is the worst type of cancel culture. GB News is bringing a much-needed perspective to our media landscape. The brands that are pulling their advertising are frankly gutless and need to understand that the UK is a conservative country and will remain so for the foreseeable.”

Dowden’s claim that UK has a “robust, free and diverse media” was the opposite of truth.  Almost all of UK’s national newspapers and talkRadio and LBC are owned by extremely wealthy tax-dodgers who abhor freedom and diversity.  News in the newspapers is intrinsically biased, often by omission, and most of the newspapers promote bigotry, xenophobia, racism and many other prejudices. 

The Tory government planted its three amigos – Tim Davie, Richard Sharp and Robbie Gibb – in the BBC and their effects have been received already with restrictions placed on political actions and opinions of BBC staff.

GB News does not “add” to “diversity” in the media.  The political position of GB News is exactly the same as that of Mail, Sun and talkRadio.  The orchestrated mob who physically and verbally harassed BBC journalist Nick Watt near parliament last week were members of GB News’ target audience.  They expressed exactly the same political view on Covid-19 restrictions as GB News presenter Dan Wootton.

Dowden claimed he was worried that advertisers “succumbed to pressure groups.”  He knew that businesses made pragmatic decisions that took into account their image.  Dowden did not object to libellous accusations against The Canary and other left-wing news sites by far-right activists accompanied by pressure on businesses to withdraw their adverts from those sites.

Knight’s comments were horrendous.  He expectorated the prevailing right-wing trope of “cancel culture” but neglected to mention Andrew Neil’s assertion that GB News will not broadcast any political view that is counter to that of GB News philosophy.  Contrary to Knight’s fellating praise, GB News’ destructive “perspective” has existed in UK media for a long time.

Knight’s desperate appeal that “UK is a conservative country and will remain so for the foreseeable” was simultaneously chilling and absurd, embellished by the childlike use of the adjective “foreseeable” as a noun.

JulianKnight
Julian Knight MP, chair of DCMS parliamentary committee

Tory MP Craig Tracey commented on a GB News show broadcast on Sunday June 20th (2021) wherein three right-wingers, hosts extreme-right grifter Nigel Farage and Tory MP Dehenna Davison, and guest professional contrarian Paul Emberry, indulged in trionanism. 

Tracey: “Political Correction’ on GB News is fantastic watching.  Wasn’t sure about Nigel Farage as a host but actually doing exceptionally well – overseeing a very balanced, grown up debate.  There’s such a noticeable difference.  It’s great to have an alternative outlet to let people see the difference.  And make their own judgement.  It’s nice to hear issues actually discussed.”

It is no longer surprising or even noticeable when Tory MPs praise extremist Farage.  

Tone of Tracey’s comments was compatible with a GB News mendacious PR message.  The predictable contributions from the three participants in the show were decidedly unbalanced and purposefully lacking in adult reasoning. 

GB News is not an “alternative” outlet; it is consumed by its predictability and conformity.

Tracey was happy that hosts and guests were not interrupted and allowed to speak without challenge.  Of course they were allowed to do that because they shared political aims; the intent of GB News is to broadcast propaganda. 

Like all Tories Tracey objects to being examined by interviewers.  Tories hate having to answer actual questions and hate having to explain their decisions.  Their performances on TV, radio and at press conferences are a concoction of lies, obfuscation, misdirection and disdain.

Davison described her and Farage’s ‘Political Correctness’ as “a place to have grown-up, respectful debates about the issues of the week.”  She encapsulated the learnt arrogance of Tories.  They expect unearned respect.  They expect the public and the media to treat them deferentially.  They demand to not be questioned.  They never accept criticism.  They never accept blame.  

GB News, owned by wealthy tax-dodgers, is a tool to engender far-right philosophy and to do so with a very dumbed down anti-knowledge tone.  It sits comfortably with Tories’ methodology and aims.

Related blogs
GB News is worse than expected
BBC bans news staff from supporting anti-racism

Tory government support for GB News

Are you or have you ever been called a Marxist?

In Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove General Jack Ripper, addressing Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, said “I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion and the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all our precious bodily fluids.”  (Ripper was so fearful that he started a nuclear war.)

strangelove1

Kubrick’s masterpiece was released in 1964 when communism was depicted by capitalist governments, by newspapers and by compliant academics as the greatest threat to civilisation.  The appellation “communist” was meant as an insult and as a accusation.

Today, “communist” is used less by political opponents, partly because it is easy to deny: Communism is, wrongly, associated with an absence of democracy and, thus, someone who is not a communist but accused of being one can refute the description with ease.

The deceitful distractors prefer to label those they wish to silence as “Marxists.”  Despite having co-authored ‘The Communist Manifesto’ Marx cannot be characterised as a definite opponent of democracy even by anti-Marxists.  Marx existed in an epoch without universal suffrage; he wanted more people to be able to vote, not fewer.  However, “Marxist” as an intended accusation or insult has greater strength than “socialist” which many non-left-wing politicians and activists are happy to receive as a description.

People and organisations in all aspects of life and work can have a racketeer’s or racketeer’s gofer’s accusatory finger pointed at them accompanied by an exclamation of “Marxist.”  Politicians, journalists, academics, union leaders, teachers, medical professionals, judges, magistrates, footballers, charities, barristers, lawyers, thespians, musicians, etc. are labelled “Marxist” whenever they contest conservative policy, decisions and opinions or whenever they support or enact any activity that hampers exploitation or helps people to fight for their rights and freedoms.

The range of possible actions that elicit cries of “Marxist” is wide.  Support for tackling climate change, opposition to further privatisation of public services, the existence of social housing, the existence of legal aid and being anti-racist, all of which are sensible humane perspectives, are routinely described as “Marxist.”  Anything that challenges or even just attempts to dampen full exploitation of people by the wealthiest is dismissed.

Most of the targets of the supposed insult are policies, proposals or ideas that share underlying principles with Marxism.  That is unsurprising because Marx’s influence extends well beyond communists and he was influenced by socialist, democratic and even liberal ideas.

Partial accuracy of being labelled “Marxist” should cancel the accusatory intent of its use.  It would do so if the accused accepted the description.  Most recipients should acknowledge that what they support for and fight for is uncontroversially compatible with analysis by and aims of Marx.  More pertinently, they should realise that their objectives are in opposition to those of exploitative capitalism.

All political adjectives and nouns have fluid definitions; invariably, they are applied with political intent.  Some self-penned Marxists fail to understand key aims and objectives of Marxism, and some recipients of others’ description of them as Marxist are clearly not so, but people whose focus is fighting for the same aims as Marx need not be perturbed if described as “Marxists.”

Embrace being called a “Marxist.”

Embrace being a Marxist.

Are you or have you ever been called a Marxist?

GB News is worse than expected

Andrew Neil’s GB News channel began yesterday (Sunday 13th June) evening in a festival of bad studio lighting, out of sync audio, Acorn Antiquesesque studio infrastructure and end of The Sopranos-style editing.  It is reasonable to question if such amateurist technical issues were deliberate acts intended to generate discussion about the channel by utilising the maxim that any publicity is good publicity even if it is mocking.

Beyond technical frailties there were no surprises in the two shows on Sunday.  There were clumsy soliloquies filled with declarations of spurious intent to promote independent views, free speech and new opinions but also filled with denunciations of many other opinions and affirmations that the latter opinions would find no airtime on GB News.  Successive presenters, many obviously very new to loose-scripted pieces direct to camera and to conducting an interview, demonstrated their shared method of speaking exclusively in the realm of non-sequiturs of hollow soundbites, exclaiming with performative passion, offering absurd opinions as if they are facts, targetting specific political perspectives and, most noticeably, being very, very repetitive.

Repetition was rampant.  By necessity, conservative propaganda is short and simple.  It must eshew explanation, consideration of consequences and proof.  Even a single 280 character tweet is too long for a complete presentation of a conservative hypothesis. 

The GB News screaming heads floundered when required to deliver their soliloquies.  Unemcumbered by extensive vocabulary their repetitions were monotonously similar.

The king of far-right grifters Andrew Neil can conduct an interview with some expertise but his staff are inept in that skill.  They tried to rely on a tiny stock of short contrarian retorts that they expectorated randomly.

The staff were chosen for their adherence to ultra-conservative ideology.  Thus, their respective intellectual limitations were inevitable.  Given such simplicity it was important that GB News arranged its structure so that said limitations would not be too visible but the forthcoming daily arrangement will highlight the lack of functionality of the presenters.  The broadcast day will be split into three-hour long chunks each occupied by a pair of presenters who will deliver mini-speeches to camera, chat to each other and interview guests.  Each pair will struggle because of a lack of experience and abject lack of knowledge.

The dissonance between GB News’ preferred structure and the capabilities of its staff will persist without improvement.

Predictability was the dominant feature of GB News’ first day.  Each presenter said exactly what everyone would expect them to say, both in content and in style, the choice of guests was obvious, and the volume of time used by advertisements was unsurprisingly very large. 

So far, GB News is banal.

GB News is worse than expected

Westminster Digital

Crafty marketing skills are necessary for politicians if their policies and ideology are harmful and need to be presented to the public as fraudulently as possible.  Many such politicians were trained at elite schools to be con artists and to erase all shame.  In office they are guided by professional message manipulators at think-tanks who advise and direct on content, tone and choice of message in order to ensure presentation of a harmful policy or proposal hides true intent and invents illusory benefits.  Supportive media outlets help with direction of focus on selected talking points related to political actions and decisions.

Mendacious politicians need to pretend to speak directly to the public on issues and policies via video clips and social media.  This is a consequence of the increasing use of online platforms and direct messaging as primary sources of information for many people.  Unsurprisingly, most politicians require assistance to be successful in this form of communication and there exists an industry of PR and comms businesses dedicated to helping them. 

The help politicians receive from the communications industry goes way beyond tips on style of language, body language, hand gestures, frequency of smiles and Feng-shuiing the setting for a piece to camera. 

Westminster based “communications agency Westminster Digital (WD) brings together content creation, data analysis and strategic advice.”  The third component of WD’s remit is the most noteworthy.  By “strategic advice” it means guidance on how to misrepresent conservative ideology, intent, policy and practices.  It means advice on structuring a monologue so that viewers or listeners are distracted by vacuity, impaired by obfuscation and entranced by emotional pleas to ephemeral nonsense, with the aim of enticing people to believe, without demonstration or proof, that the politicians are offering something of tangible benefit, while true objectives are hidden behind hollow rhetoric.

WD’s videos are not difficult to construct.  Politicians or activists are given a bland and dishonest script to read, told where to stand and their words are accompanied by visual media that bears no relation to the topic being presented but acts as a distraction and as a deception.

Last year (June 2020) WD produced a video to promote Australia/UK: Free Trade Agreement Launch Its purpose was to create an impression of an imaginary opportunity for a post-Brexit “free trade” deal between Britain and Australia.  The reality of such a deal, announced recently (May 2021) by one of the participants in the video Liz Truss, is very heavily weighted in favour of Australia’s libertarian government and features the import into Britain of tonnes of bad hormone-injected beef produced on grassless megafarms.  But, the video was not a projection of any reality.

It began with an utterly meaningless soliloquy on how UK and Australia have “shared a story” that is a “tale of adventure,” accompanied by random photos and eclectic one-second clips of sport, war and ships.  Other than a language, there are not many close connections between the two countries and there is little direct trade but facts shouldn’t interrupt propaganda. 

Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham, using some Brexit-related terminology, commonly known as gibberish, listed random industries alongside lies about centuries of trade between both countries.  The trick he used was to implant in viewers’ minds a connection between any proposed trade deal and all the industries he had highlighted, but there was no direct connection – they were simply mentioned at about the same time in the video.  He said “additional opportunities await us in a free trade deal.”  That is, “opportunities” that are not in any of the industries he mentioned.

A key facet of WD’s “strategic advice” is that videos should include pictures and words that describe positive scenarios regardless of their relevance to the actual topic being discussed.  Distraction (by pictures and prose), obfuscation of reality (by its omission) and emotional presentation of appealing activities or achievements irrespective of relevance are the building blocks of a WD video.

Truss appeared in the video and talked about the Cutty Sark’s contribution to trade between UK and Australia in the nineteenth century although she avoided an explanation that much of the ship’s cargo was plundered from British colonies.

A further deceptive placement in the video was a claim of cooperation between UK and Australia to tackle Covid.  No evidence was provided to back up the claim; Covid was referenced because it was topical.  Last year Australia had much more restrictive lockdowns than UK; the two governments did not agree at all on the best approach to manage the pandemic.  

The video concluded with both speakers, Birmingham and Truss, restating their respective governments’ commitments to a “free trade” deal.  Vacuous comments about such a deal, completely devoid of substance, were embellished by more random photos and short clips of sport, industry and war.  As noted above, the actual deal is not significant as part of UK’s overseas trade.  The only winners will be multinational landowners who “own” grassless land upon which sit the beef farms. 

When the conservative UK government and the conservative Australian government use the adjective “free” applied to trade they mean the freedom of large businesses to exploit across national borders.  Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott created a think-tank with former conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), that promotes erasure of government regulations and laws to enable subservience of countries to profit margins of international businesses.  Specifically, IFT supports denying any government from stopping businesses from taking complete control of public services.  If Hannan and Abbott’s ideas become government policy then signatories (countries) to a “free trade” deal would be prevented by law from doing anything that hampered destruction of public services or that attacked the ability to exploit.  Both Hannan and Abbott were appointed to UK’s Board of Trade by Boris Johnson.

In the video the meaning of “free trade” was absent.  It would be difficult to sell a policy of total surrender to free market racketeering and dissolution of government.  WD assisted two governments in promoting “free trade” without describing it, and they did that by placing repeated mentions of a deal beside unconnected pseudo-positive imagery.

Social media posts are within WD’s remit.  It concocted a post with a photo of Boris Johnson and Carrie Simmons in a garden and a stupid video of Rory Stewart walking along a street.  Both were manipulations of the subjects in order to convince viewers of spurious normality and personableness.

WD claims to be non-partisan but almost all of its political clients are conservatives.  Whether partisan or not, its product is deliberately dishonest, reckless and a con.

Conservative governments know how easily videos and social media posts can be made that can achieve a noteworthy contribution to deceitful exposition of policies and objectives.  Misrepresentation is a huge industry.  The customers are politicians without integrity and with copious venality; the suppliers are opportunists who care not for the disastrous consequences of their complicity. 

PR tactics and misleading presentations are common in entertainment businesses – pop stars, actors, reality TV participants – and also in corporate videos and marketing.  Their use for governments is intrinsically anti-democratic.

WD people
We’ve got guys who have launched leadership campaigns who literally don’t even know who the candidate is” declared WD founder and CEO Craig Dillon, proudly.  Political ignorance should not elicit pride.  Dillon’s assertion was, of course, a lie.

Managing Director Tom Dixon was confident that his assistance to Tory MP Anna Firth in December 2019 general election would succeed because WD filmed her at home with her dogs.  “If you look at Canterbury, a lot of people when [Anna Firth] goes to meet them, they say, ‘Oh, you’ve got the dogs, you’re the lady with the two dogs! Beautiful dogs.’ Because we’ve put those videos out.”  There is nothing about Dixon’s attitude there that is compatible with democracy.

An interesting comment made by Dixon about WD’s video for Firth was a reference to congestion at a roundabout.  “People near that roundabout might get an extra push [from WD], because they care. The traffic is annoying them.”  WD were able to target specific residents directly by using Facebook’s advertising tools, echoing tactics used by Cambridge Analytica.

(Anna Firth did not win the seat.)

Corporate clients
Among WD’s corporate clients are far-right magazine The Spectator and extremist free-racketeer think-tank Adam Smith Institute.

Westminster Digital

Howard Beckett easily brushes away Margaret Hodge

Last week (June 3rd 2021) professional tax-dodger Margaret Hodge announced she had written a letter to Metropolitan police wherein she alleged that Howard Beckett, a candidate for leader of Unite union in its upcoming election, may have broken the law regarding use of the union’s funds in 2018.

Her accusation of possible unlawful actions by Beckett is baseless.  He denied wrongdoing and denied all of the specific accusations.  Rightly, he called Hodge’s accusations “risible and politically motivated.”

Fear
The right-wing of Labour fear Beckett.

They fear the political influence of a leader of a large trades’ union whose politics are close to pre-Starmer Labour and whose objectives are socialist.

That fear is palpable given how well Beckett’s leadership campaign is proceeding.  He has support from nearly three hundred union branches.

The fear is embellished by his criticism of Labour’s current leadership and of its (lack of) policy and direction, criticism that could be translated into reduction of financial support for Labour from Unite.

When the right are scared they lash out stupidly and bereft of veracity.  They rely on symbiotic support from right-wing media and complicity from centrist media.  Hodge’s daft letter to police was accompanied by publication in Murdoch’s Times of internal Unite e-mails.  BBC’s Newsnight provided, or tried to provide, a hatchet job on Beckett.

Good publicity for Beckett
The attack on Beckett as a political strategy to undermine his leadership campaign was a spectacular failure.  Not only did none of the absurd mendacious accusations stick but also the airtime given to them greatly enhanced his visibility.

His intelligent and logical retorts on Newsnight contrasted with the nonsense spouted by Hodge and Tom Watson and with the floundering attempts by presenter Emma Barnett to manufacture a smear story.  Prior to this confection the BBC had chosen to pretend that Beckett wasn’t likely to win the Unite leadership election.  Interestingly, in an admission that its hatchet job had backfired, Newsnight decided to not include any clips of Beckett’s comments in its promotion of the show on social media.

Who were undermining Labour in 2018?
Accusations against Beckett related to alleged activities in 2018 including claims that he asked Unite members to try to help deselect some right-wing Labour MPs.

In 2018, Hodge, Watson, John Spellar, Ian Austin and many others campaigned against Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues, as they had done so since 2015.  This continued with the invention of Change UK in 2019.  Both Hodge and Austin embroiled themselves in legal disputes with Labour in 2018.  Spellar had demanded Corbyn’s resignation in 2015.  Austin left Labour in 2019 but did not resign as an MP.  In 2019 general election campaign he urged his constituents to vote Tory; soon after the election he was given a peerage by the Tory government.

Last week a Unite spokesperson said strongly “As acting regional Secretary for West Midlands Mr. Beckett actively promoted Unite’s political agenda and its values, including by championing candidates who showed greater loyalty to the party and its leadership [Corbyn].  All regional secretaries are charged with advancing that strategy in their areas, which was a particular challenge in West Midlands, since it was long in the grip of an intransigent right-wing exemplified by Ian Austin, John Spellar and Tom Watson.  All three acted to undermine the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and Ian Austin was placed in the House Of Lords by the Tory government.”

Power of an effective union
Strong trades’ unions can, despite decades of Tory law changes designed to reduce unions’ power, achieve success for workers and can be an example to everyone on how to fight against conservatism.  Collective organisation and clear political strategies are a huge challenge to the authoritarian Tories who work on behalf of exploitative employers.

Hodge, Watson and Spellar are aware of the potential power of focussed union leadership.  Beckett’s rapidly growing support from union members threatens the politics of right-wingers.

An opportunity, created by the publication of internal e-mails, was grasped at desperately.  The desperation was so erratic and thoughtless that the only consequence was excellent promotion from Beckett and even greater support for him from (voting) union members.

Never underestimate the underhandedness and sneakiness of the right-wing and never underestimate its abject stupidity.

Recommended reading
Gerard Coyne supporters ‘rig’ Birmingham council branch – then it votes 91% for Beckett
Margaret Hodge Is Gunning for Unite Leadership Hopeful Howard Beckett
Did John Spellar help Thatcher spy on unions?
Howard Beckett: What Exactly Are The Establishment So Afraid Of?

Related blogs
Independent MP Ian Austin
Margaret Hodge has a good reason to oppose Corbyn
Mainstream insincerity and hypocrisy

Hodge comments
Laugh uproariously.  In particular note that Hodge said “Unite should be focusing on the priorities of its members in the wake of COVID-19.”  But, the accusations relate to 2018, two years before Covid-19.

Yesterday I wrote to the Met Police concerning an alleged criminal offence by the trade union Unite that I have been made aware of. I have now called for an immediate police investigation.  I have recently seen emails suggesting that Unite top officials have been covertly funding political activities.  Keeping this secret from its hardworking members.  If true, this is unlawful.  In these emails, it appears Unite officials, including Howard Beckett, were deliberately orchestrating the deselection of longstanding Labour MPs.  They reportedly did this by funnelling money through their solicitors, who might not have been aware this was being planned.  Unite members have a right to see how their fees are spent & top officials have a duty to be open & transparent with their accounts.  Both Tom Watson and Jon Spellar were allegedly targeted by this plot meaning they were distracted from representing their constituents and had to fend off underhand deselection attempts.  Unite should be focusing on the priorities of its members in the wake of COVID-19.  Not the political whims of a few trade union barons.  If this was funded secretly by the union, it the very least, immoral, and potentially unlawful.  It makes me question whether Howard Beckett is fit to lead one of Britain’s biggest trade unions.”

Howard Beckett easily brushes away Margaret Hodge

Geidt in the bin

Last week (May 28th 2021) professional lickspittle (Baron) Christopher Geidt, Boris Johnson’s Independent Adviser On Ministers’ Interests, expectorated an obedient dismissal of one element of Johnson’s bulging set of corruptions. 

Johnson asked Geidt to advise on whether method and source of funding of refurbishment of 10 Downing Street’s residential rooms were in breach of any rules.  Geidt concluded that Johnson had not broken the ministerial code.

He was appointed as Independent Adviser by Johnson on April 28th which was after details of the source of payment for the refurbishment became public knowledge, and his assessment of that payment was the first task he was assigned.

Geidt was trained at two expensive private schools – Dragon School (£31,686 p.a.) and Glenalmond College (£36,900 p.a.) – to be a willing servant of wealthy elite and, simultaneously, to be a member thereof.  He was taught to believe there exists a class of people who are above everyone else, who are beyond the law and for whom lies and truth are interchangeable.

Through his work as a diplomat and in a variety of made-up roles bowing and scraping to the queen, his was (and continues to be) embedded deep within the rotting bowels of the remnants of hideous upper class detachment from reality and accountability.   

Geidt’s obsequious anti-explanation of Johnson’s dodgy deal was as unsurprising as it was nauseating.  It was circling the wagons by the wealth concentration elite.

GeidtQueen
Geidt (right) and friend

A malignant legacy of feudalism spews forth a debilitating rancid stench that infests conservatism and fills the decaying infrastructure of government, royalty and judiciary.  Britain, beset by this archaic disease, is a long way short of democracy.

Recommended reading
Geidt sat on the Sultan Of Oman’s Privy Council: Phil Miller for Declassified UK
Mike Silver for Vox Political

Geidt in the bin

Bright Blue

Bright Blue (BB) is a Tory party think-tank dedicated to pretending that conservatism can solve societal problems that were created and exacerbated by conservatism.

Bright Blue is an independent think tank for liberal conservatism.  We defend and improve liberal society.  Our primary role is to create and vet government policy.  We are a respected and leading think tank which delivers an extensive programme of research, publications and events.  Our thinking and ideas have had significant influence on public debate and government policy.”

BB presents itself as different to hardline free-racketeer libertarian conservatism promoted and practiced by, for example, Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison, Narenda Modi, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsanaro.

Markets are the best way of allocating resources, but they can be inefficient and inequitable, so government and social institutions can help correct market problems.”
Politicians and policymakers should focus attention and resources on supporting and empowering the most vulnerable, here and abroad.”

The alleged “liberal conservatism” of BB is partly basic electioneering by describing the Tory party as having a broader church than the insidious mob currently in cabinet, and it is partly a strategy to defend market-oriented politics in general.  Its policy ideas and proposals do seep into Tory government decisions because the government, despite its rancid gung-ho crusade for oligarchical hoarding of wealth, knows that, occasionally, elections require some pretence of circumspection, but the list of successes for BB in directing government policy is short and non-radical.

Some of BB’s rhetoric is indistinguishable from that of Tony Blair or Nick Clegg and certainly is aligned with the political positions of Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau.  It is not important how sincere or otherwise BB’s rhetoric is.  Ultimately, BB is unambiguously conservative.  Whether it is a killer wolf in a non-psychotic wolf’s clothing, or whether it is a rare non-psychotic facet of a killer wolf’s personality, makes no difference.

Its Advisory Council shows that the description “liberal” of BB’s ideology is misplaced.  Among the council’s members are destroyer of public health Matt Hancock, libertarian gimp Michael Gove, and key architect of wealth concentration policy Matthew Elliot.

BB tried to distance itself from its Advisory Council by claiming “our Advisory Council members are from different political and professional backgrounds.  They do not necessarily share our philosophy or all of our policy ideas” but those with “different political backgrounds” are all hardline libertarians, and the rest are conservative.

There is a copious collection of papers and essays that BB calls Research.  Many are merely pictorial representations of polls; others are compendiums of opinions on a particular topic with the opinions ranging from conservative to more conservative.  Volume of published words is not proportional to incisive or informative literature.  Paid contributors espouse obvious tailored remarks.  It’s a solid grift.  

BB is primarily a show pony.  Its reason to exist, beyond a simple grift, is to placate conservative waverers who are slightly uncomfortable with the arrogant authoritarianism of Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg, etc.

Links to brief descriptions of other right-wing think-tanks

Bright Blue