After several Tory MPs signalled their opposition to some of the Government’s Brexit proposals, and the clumsy intervention by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph naming them all on its front page, we now have a much more sinister targeting of those MPs which verges on harassment. This latest intervention has come from a company called Voter Consultancy Ltd via paid-for Facebook advertising.
The misinformation bus rolls back into town
So who is Voter Consultancy Ltd, which talks about its “grassroots efforts to make sure that we hold our MPs accountable”? There’s a clue in that line: “Grassroots” is a term bandied about by the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance to mask the reality, that it is an Astroturf lobby group with no grassroots. And there is a TPA connection with Voter Consultancy.
The firm’s sole director is Thomas Borwick. He was Chief Technical Officer of Vote Leave and before that was involved with … Cambridge Analytica. Borwick was pals with one Andrew Whitehurst: the two were co-directors in two previous companies, as Miles King pointed out. And he was one of the four people who set up WESS in 2013.
Whitehurst was the W in WESS; the others were Matthew Elliott (co-principal of Vote Leave and a founder of the TPA), Jag Singh (co-founder of MessageSpace) and the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines of Guido Fawkes infamy. WESS was purported to have a database called Metis at its disposal. The Spectator magazine told at the time of “The mighty Metis machine that could save Cameron’s bacon in 2015”.
Metis would, we were told, use “Data on the supporters of issues based campaigns”. Also, “Other sources being fed into Metis include aggregated census records, social media profile data and online political advertising response data”. WESS had “the intention to gather ten million peoples’ personal information by the end of next year ”.
The principals of WESS might not have been thinking this through, but many now are doing just that, and coming up with one question: just how legal is all of this hoarding of personal information? And after the 2015 General Election, what happened to all that information? Would Borwick and his pals care to confirm that none of this work has found its way to Cambridge Analytica - and Voter Consultancy Ltd? Thought not.
All those connections stack up: Singh was the one who accompanied Staines’s then gofer Harry Cole to Moscow in late 2011, following which the Fawkes blog ran adverts paid by the Russian Government and mentions of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s gangsterist régime in Moscow by The Great Guido dried up completely.
Matthew Elliott was also on the advisory board of the now-moribund Young Britons’ Foundation of Tory bullying infamy. He founded an organisation which never quite managed to answer the simple question - who pays for the TPA? Now, we find ourselves asking who is paying for Voter Consultancy Ltd to indulge in harassing Tory MPs.
So far, Sarah Woolaston and Vicky Ford have been targeted by Borwick’s latest brainchild. Their colleague Anna Soubry has called the targeting “Offensive and untrue” and called those doing it “Brexit bullies”. The Information Commissioner would have good cause to delve into Borwick, Whitehurst and their past alliances. And everyone else would have good cause to ask once again: whose money is driving this latest nasty intrusion?