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.

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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.

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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.” 

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.)

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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