Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Cambridge Analytica and the Campaign Against Corbyn

The last few days have seen yet further revelations of the role of Cambridge Analytica, and its parent company SCL, as well as of its associated arms such as AIQ based in Canada. Links between Cambridge Analytica and the Trump camp had already been revealed, with Trump's mentor, Steve Bannon, at one time being a Vice-President of the company

Channel4 News, as well as the BBC have traced the role of Cambridge Analytica also back to a role in the last Kenyan elections. Channel4 News, also illustrated the connections between Cambridge Analytica, and the US based Harris Media, which ran attack ads against the Kenyan Opposition leader Raila Odinga. Harris media is the media company used by Trump, and also by Benjamin Netanyahu.

The other links discovered during the week are those between Cambridge Analytica and Putin's Russia.. That is yet another piece in the jigsaw of connections between right-wing Tories, Brextremists, Trump, Russia, Israel, Cambridge Analytica and sections or former members of the British Secret Services. SCL even claimed on its marketing material, according to the BBC, that its bona fides could be checked with British Embassies. And, for all of their window dressing in relation to Putin's Russia, with the dismissal of Russian diplomats, the connections between leading Tories and Putin's regime, and the various oligarchs in London, continues, as with Bojo being paid a large amount of money to play tennis with people close to Putin

And, now we have the connections between Cambridge Analytica and AIQ, as a means of channelling funds from Vote Leave to BeLeave, as a means of getting around the law on election spending. But expect no quick action on any of that. The Information Commissioner could not even get into Cambridge Analytica's premises within a week, though, given the potential crimes that had been committed, why the police could not have just obtained entrance to the premises is a mystery, or perhaps not, given the establishment figures that are involved. 

The Tory and Brextremist apologists of course, claim that all of the money spent on this research and analysis, and on targeted advertising could not result in changing the way people vote. In that case, why did any of these organisations spend large amounts of money to do it? The truth is that we know that psychological profiling, and psychological techniques of shaping behaviour, by various methods of suggestion and conditioning do work. That is why there is a multi-billion dollar global advertising and marketing industry. But, if you want another example, look at the way supermarkets regularly send out vouchers for money off, to you as a named individual, if you spend say £60 with them, before a given date. How many people have found themselves conditioned to go and spend money in that way, so as to save themselves £10 on a £60 shop? 

The old techniques of advertising and marketing were based on mass media, they were a hammer to crack a nut, as they had to appeal to large sections of the population in one go, for example, in the way soap powder makers used stratified marketing to put the same powder into different boxes, aimed at different demographics, and at different price levels. Today, just as flexible specialisation has taken over from Fordist mass production, so too advertising and marketing is able to use a scalpel rather than a hammer, to forensically target individual psyche, to obtain the desired results. 

Channel4 News in the video above showed how Cambridge Analytica and its associates were using these techniques in Kenya and elsewhere for overtly political purposes. In the case of Kenya, what the film illustrates is not only that Cambridge Analytica/Harris Media were utilising these analytical and psychological techniques to target specific individuals and groups of individuals with a specific message, but that the message itself was impregnated with fake news, in other words lies and disinformation designed to blacken the name of Odinga. 

What is ironic is that even as the BBC and Channel4 ran the stories about the role of Cambridge Analytica, and its associates such as Harris Media, in smearing the name of Odinga, they were alongside those stories themselves facilitating a similar campaign of smears, innuendoes and lies against Jeremy Corbyn that has all of the same hallmarks. It would be interesting for both the BBC and Channel4, to investigate, now, for example, the links between this campaign against Corbyn, launched now just ahead of the local elections, with the Brextremists who see Corbyn's Labour Party as the main threat to Brexit going ahead, and the extent to which that campaign has been coordinated, planned and financed by any of the groups associated with Cambridge Analytica, and the various other parties with whom it has done business.  The Sun, for example, recently ran a story that it had to withdraw the following day about the savings that families would make as a result of Brexit, if Jeremy Corbyn was kept out of office, so as to enable Brexit to go ahead.

Given the links between Harris Media, Cambridge Analytica and Netanyahu, for example, it would be interesting to examine any overlap in this campaign against Corbyn, and groups in Britain linked to Netanyahu's regime in Israel, that is itself under investigation there, for corruption. An investigation needs to be undertaken of the extent to which the current witchhunt against Corbyn has been coordinated by these assorted and connected forces, a well as with opaque groups such as the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.

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