It is rapidly becoming crystal clear why the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - along with the foolish and credulous within the media establishment - have gone after Carole Cadwalladr and her colleagues at the Guardian and Observer so often, so vehemently, so maliciously, and so unsuccessfully.
That The Great Guido would try and rubbish the revelations about Cambridge Analytica, its dealings with the various Leave campaigns, and those who might be adversely affected was not in doubt: Staines, his minions, and his backers are all in the Leave camp, and anything that might undermine the credibility of the referendum vote was to be rubbished.
Look who's been signing the cheques
But it is the information which has come to light since Ms Cadwalladr began her series of exposés that shows there is rather more to it. First on that agenda is the trip to Moscow by Staines’ business associate Jag Singh and his then gofer Master Harry Cole, which took place at the end of 2011. This was not merely to report on that country’s elections: Singh and Cole also visited the Moscow Tech Hub.
MessageSpace, Staines’ and Singh’s company, revealed this in its blog at the time. Under the heading “Russian Embassy using social media to explain foreign policy”, readers are told “MessageSpace is helping the Russian Embassy in London to drive readers of political websites to the Embassy’s website where they can learn about Russia’s foreign policy positions”. How very helpful of them. And there was more.
“The public awareness-raising advertising campaign is running across leading political websites for two months, and aims to make extensive use of MessageSpace’s reach across the Web, especially to the general public interested in foreign policy … The advert invites visitors to click through to the Russian Federation’s UK Embassy website”.
What an excellent meeting of cultures: the country that brought us Pravda and Isvestia, working with someone on the same propaganda wavelength. Small wonder that when I tweaked the Fawkes tail at the time, Master Cole was on such a hair trigger.
Then, added to that, we have the still unexplained saga of WESS Digital, its information gathering mission, and its allegedly “mighty” Metis database. WESS, which also featured Staines and Singh, as well as Matthew Elliott of so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance and Vote Leave infamy, was launched amid great fanfare in 2013, only to steadily vanish from view.
The sole motivation for The Great Guido is explained in layman's terms
What happened to the WESS Metis database? As Fiona O’Leary put it, “The METIS database was supposed to grow from the original 500k people to 10 million by the end of 2014 … Did it?” And in view of recent revelations regarding Facebook, Louise Brough had a telling addition to this mélange: “please note the connection between Guido’s MessageSpace, Matthew Elliott’s BigBrotherWatch (c/o YBF Emma Carr), Guido & Elliott’s WESS, and Facebook as ‘Lab Partner’”. Ooh look, Facebook once again.
All that Russian money, and maybe expertise, really makes this stand up. Plus, that 10 million could be a lot more with all those friends roped in. So where did the Metis database end up? Are we supposed to believe that Staines and his pals would just bin it and walk away, if there was the chance of a moderately fast buck in the offing? The enquiries are already in train. And no amount of hatchet jobs will stop them. More on this one soon.