“Concern grows at Tory link to US lobby firm in Facebook smear scandal”

“The Conservative party is under pressure to reveal details about its relationship with the London arm of a US lobbying firm accused of smear tactics against critics of Facebook.

UK Policy Group, a consultancy with close links to the Conservative party, is part of Definers Public Affairs, the controversial firm ditched by Facebook earlier this month following a New York Times exposé that has further dented the social media network’s image. …

Set up in 2017, UKPG’s vice president is Andrew Goodfellow, the Tories’ former director of policy and research. Its two founders, Matt Rhoades and Joe Pounder, are heavyweight US political operatives who – in addition to establishing Definers – set up the America Rising corporation, described as the “unofficial research arm of the Republican party”.

“Our blueprint to winning elections involves the relentless pursuit of original and effective hits against Democrats,” the firm explains on its website.

UKPG’s only known client is the Conservative party, for which it reportedly provides research on its opponents. A spokeswoman for the Conservative party confirmed it works with UKPG.

When asked whether it intended to continue working with the firm in light of recent allegations and what the firm did for the party, she said: “We don’t comment on contracts with individual suppliers.”

Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office, said: “It’s precisely because of revelations like this that the public have no faith in this government to clean up our democracy and restore trust in politics.” …

“This isn’t any old muckraking outfit,” said Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch, a group that monitors PR agencies. “Was UK Policy Group an ‘unofficial research arm’ of the Conservative party? A pro-Brexit operation? We need to know why they arrived in the UK when they did, what they were doing for nearly 18 months, who they were targeting and who was paying for it. And why they appear to have upped sticks the very week Definers are fired by Facebook.”


One thought on ““Concern grows at Tory link to US lobby firm in Facebook smear scandal”

  1. If politicians and political parties still had any ability to be ashamed, then we might get details. But when political parties, and in particular the Conservative Party, believe in winning at any cost, whilst remaining unaccountable, these sort of demands are simply water off a ducks back, and will never have any real chance of achieving disclosure.

    Let us not forget some of the recent history of the Conservative Party:

    * referendum law – several leading Conservative MPs remain as MPs and indeed were or still are Cabinet Ministers despite being responsible for the Leave organisations who broke spending law during the referendum

    * secret policy agendas – remember that Academy Schools aka privatisation of the state education system was NOT a manifesto item in 2015, but as soon as they won the 2015 election they went straight to a vote to make EVERY school in the country an Academy School, WITHOUT ANY DEBATE

    * turncoats – Leave promised us a soft Brexit, but the Leave leadership switched to a hard or even a no-deal Brexit from the second the referendum result was known and have refused to compromise and tried to sabotage negotiations ever since – it is now clear that they never believed what they were saying and always were going to change tack afterwards

    * democracy – the Leave Campaign was littered with absolute whoppers, including use of social media to tell one whopper to some people and the opposite whopper to other people

    * moral compass – the government has done NOTHING following the guilty verdict on referendum spending by the Electoral Commission – they have neither sacked the ministers identified as being responsible, nor allowed the police to properly investigate and prosecute

    * nastiness – towards the most needy and vulnerable people in our society, like the sick, the elderly, the homeless, the disabled

    * dogma regardless of the consequences – due to cuts, the NHS, social services, prisons, police, local government, education are all close to breaking point – but the Conservatives don’t care so long as they can continue to give big tax cuts and lucrative privatisation contracts to their friends and party donors

    Given that they have almost zero history (over the past 20 years at least) of caring about the integrity of the democratic process, can we really expect to see them disclose any information unless compelled to by law. There is no real possibility of them doing so voluntarily, and AFAIK laws that might compel them to disclose this information do not currently exist – and since they are hardly likely to pass any new laws themselves and make themselves vulnerable to being held accountable, it seems to me that this is never going to happen.

    What a state they have got this country into – every public service broken, selling off anything that moves, huge numbers of people destitute or barely making ends meet, risks of food and medicine shortages (and consequent civil unrest), whilst the gap between rich and poor has widened hugely (richest 1% have gone from taking 5% of GDP in 1979 to 15% in 2016 – their income has tripled in real terms since 1979, whilst 60% of the population are worse off financially even when you look only at the last 3 years) and with Brexit potentially being a massive economic disaster, and the country utterly polarised on Brexit and unwilling to listen to any sort of facts, or reasoned argument or compromise.


    Disclosure: I voted Conservative for most of the period 1978-2008 – so I am in a tiny part to blame for much of this. It took me 30 years to see what a mistake this was. The good (??) news is that it won’t take 30 years to see the consequences of recent elections/referendums, though these consequences are likely to last far longer than 30 years – even Jacob Rees-Mogg says 50-100 years of economic damage before we see any positive economic benefits from Brexit.


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