The long-awaited Russia report was published with a call for “immediate action” by the government and intelligence services to tackle the threat from just one country – Russia. The reality was that while Russia may have been meddling at the edges of Britain’s democracy, America has been actively involved in centrally funding the breakdown of democracy, the rule of law and the British way of life. So where is the America Report?
The Russia Report cited ‘open source’ studies which pointed to “pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls’, as evidence of Russian attempts to influence the process.” Apparently, 150,000 Russian tweets bots churned out pro-Brexit propaganda. When asked to comment on Russian interference into British politics, MI5 couldn’t be bothered to answer and provided just six lines of text – and anything remotely important in that text was redacted anyway.
The government said: “We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum“. Was anyone expecting them to say anything else?
In referring to the meddling of the biggest political and economic decision Britain has been faced with since the last World War, not a word was mentioned about any other interference. And by interference, I mean the type of interventions that would make a significant difference to the outcome of a referendum. For instance – no comment was made that one billion targeted ads delivered by American tech giants hit swing voters in the EU referendum.
Does anyone think that Brexit would have become a reality without the ubiquitous depth and reach into the fabric of our lives as a result of social media? It is not alleged – but a matter of documented fact, that in the last four weeks on the runup to the EU referendum, voters were targeted by the American company SCL Elections. and Cambridge Analytica. They had collected data, notably from another American company – Facebook. In fact, they collected an illegal dataset containing “hundreds of data points on millions of individuals,” including the gathering of “psychological insights into voters’ personalities and decision-making” and “political opinions, sociological structures and additional psychological metrics.” SCL then targeted “salient segments of the voting population according to their geographic location, views on the EU, propensity to vote and other factors.” This trio of American corporations effectively hunted down unsuspecting marginal voters relentlessly. One-third of British voters were undecided on the question of EU membership just one week before the referendum in June 2016.
At TruePublica, we have written many reports and articles about how large sums of dark money campaigns have influenced not just getting Brexit over the line but have since been pushing hard for a no-deal Brexit.
The biggest search engine in the world – with incredible power over entire populations have been caught secretly funding far-right shadowy groups – like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who are accused of having a stranglehold on the political system in America with huge sums of ‘dark money’ funding from unknown sources. In turn, these American organisations, with connections to the Whitehouse have focused their massive firepower at ensuring Brexit Britain becomes a reality. Just this one ‘institution’ has over 400 corporate and political funding connections – the vast majority are American.
Opaque think tanks and front charities – not required by law to publish funding sources – many with close contacts with the current American administration have also been exposed. Many are funded by transnational corporations who do not want to be identified – such as the fossil fuel industry and especially the pervasive search engine and social media giants. And we’re not talking of anything less than tens of millions of dollars being invested each year in acquiring a new market for their insatiable desire for deregulation and profiteering. And make no mistake – deregulation is what this is all about.
Reports published as far back as July 2018 revealed that Britain’s most prominent free-market think tank was brokering access to senior Tory politicians for American donors seeking to influence the course of Brexit. The head of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) was secretly filmed boasting about setting up meetings with Brexiteer MPs, government ministers and senior trade officials for US visitors – who had agreed to raise money for the IEA’s work pushing for a US-UK free trade deal.
Two years ago – The Independent wrote a report about how American religious conservatives are fuelling Europe’s far-right surge, shifting power away from individuals who have universal rights and onto powerful institutions like churches, patriarchal family structures, the police and ‘strong leaders’.
Corporate Europe Observatory – a research group that investigates corporate lobbying have found their way into the same cul-de-sac. In May 2019, they wrote – “Collectively, these parties don’t believe in genuine vibrant democracies, despite their rhetoric about ‘people power’. Rather, they present a future vision based on (ultra)nationalism; even if many of them have been through recent re-branding exercises to try to tone down their more unsavoury and extreme racist elements and broaden their appeal.”
And the money is paying off. Successfully exploiting public anxiety over migration, national identity and the failures of the establishment are the hallmarks of populists and their cheerleaders. After decades on the fringes, they’re forming governments, by themselves or in coalition.
The reality is that a picture has emerged of a powerful, well-funded global alliance of ultra-conservatives, free-market and far-right political actors, many of whom unite around an economically libertarian but socially conservative worldview. Their strategy begins by influencing elections, then onto judicial systems, education, and healthcare systems, as well as policymakers and public opinion. Its goal is to take power and then keep it.
Boris Johnson has already achieved much of this same agenda. The EU referendum was very much ‘influenced’ illegally and the Tory party is increasingly funded by ‘dark money.’ Britain’s judicial system is being attacked and leaked documents show a trade deal putting a much treasured NHS into the hands of the miserable American privatised system of profit before health. The media is being silenced, dissenters threatened with all sorts of legal and libel cases and now an American style spokesman is required to control the public narrative that was always the job of the Prime Minister.
Martin Kettle over The Guardian wrote that “a stake has been driven through the heart of the UK’s postwar self-image” and that Britain is now to become a “vassal of the US.”
Ian Dunt over at politics.co.uk points out that Britain – is a country that has been in a subservient position (to the USA) since the end of the war and who we are now to be utterly controlled by. It is a grim foreshadowing of what will come if Brexit succeeds.”
Graham Vanbergen at The European Financial Review writes – Britain now stands on the precipice of becoming a ‘client state’ of a foreign super-power. The Trojan horse is Brexit. In his book, ‘Brexit – A Corporate Coup D’Etat’ (read the full introduction and first two chapters free HERE) there are countless references to American dark money operations. It highlights a leaked ‘blueprint for a radical free-trade agreement’ that included free movement of American citizens to come and go in Britain as they please – just as EU citizens had done.
The New European headlines with – ‘UK on track to become 51st state of America under Boris Johnson.’ Numerous other reports from the London Economic, America’s CNN, MSN news and many others have concluded the same.
What they want
This political vision is explicit about seeking to shift power. In America, many of these organisations have pooled their resources. This triad of “life, family, and freedom” was enshrined in the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto written nearly a decade ago by American activists of the religious right. Signatories including Orthodox, Evangelical, and Catholic leaders pledged to act in unison and determined that “no power on Earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”
The voting records of Britain’s Conservative frontbenchers speaks for itself and aligns itself to these goals. Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Michale Gove, Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock, Alok Sharma, Gavin Williamson and many other influential Conservative MP’s have almost universally voted against equality and human rights. Many have voted against LGBTQ+ rights, same-sex marriage and other progressive social policies (source).
British nationalist Daniel Hannon, a right-wing proponent of the replacement of the NHS with a private insurance system, founding Vote Leave member, whose account of the Good Friday Agreement has been criticised as factually inaccurate and reckless – is the man recognised as being the architect of Brexit. His connections to American conservatism is never-ending. He was also the head of the ERG – itself a fanatical right-wing political militia inside the Tory party forcing as hard a Brexit as possible.
However, it was Conservative MP Steve Baker who moulded the ERG into what The Economist has described as “the closest thing Britain has produced to sans-culottes” – the radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution. A born-again Christian; baptised by full-body immersion off the coast of Cornwall, Baker has spoken of being guided by a higher power. However, he is more a committed disciple of the laissez-faire Austrian economics model – that of unrestrained capitalism, than saving the poor from the crisis of daily life it delivers.
Peter Geoghegan, the investigations editor of openDemocracy and author of ‘Democracy for Sale‘ spells out the coming dangers of Britain’s swing to the Conservative/religious/free-market right. His article in politco.eu entitled – ‘Death by dark money: The Americanization of British democracy‘ is about shadowy political and corporate American actors, distorting British politics and directing it towards a hard Brexit.
MP Stephen Kinnock, chair of a parliamentary working group on electoral reform, warns, Britain is in the process of being “Americanized. – “Dark money and dodgy data are playing an increasing role in our politics. That is a very dangerous place to be. We have been complacent about our democracy. We thought it would just look after itself.”
“A federal election in the U.S. is supposed to be decided by 150 million voters, and yet the policy preferences are being determined by literally 20 people, 20 major donors,” says Adav Noti, a U.S. election lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center, in Washington DC. Why does anyone now think it is any different in the UK.
The Russia Report does tell us one thing. It says British democracy is up for sale to the deepest pockets. The recent appointments to the House of Lords by Boris Johnson tells us that parliament is now up for sale to the highest bidders.
In short shrift, the British Conservatives, backed by foreign actors and dark money have systematically gone about dismantling Britain’s principles of democracy. They are thoroughly abusing Britain’s long-standing uncodified constitution and are now actively focused on weakening the institutions that hold them accountable. If they stay in power at the next general election, they will go on to attack other fundamental rights based around the principles of their deregulatory agenda, hidden inside the doctrine of its ‘triad of family life’ and blaming anything or anyone for the failings of its governance.
It’s not Russia we should looking towards as a threat to Britain’s way of life – it is America – by a very long way.