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Tuesday 21 April 2020

Tory Twitter Dirty Tricks - A Warning From History

While enquiries continue into the 128 fake Twitter accounts unearthed yesterday through the good offices of John O’Connell of Far Right Watch, and indeed the reason for the coordinated rebuttal by a Government department, some observers have realised that we have been here before: the use of Twitter for Tory propaganda purposes is not a new thing. And it is not a new thing for one well-known Government advisor in particular.
Cooeee everyone, look who's back

When Dominic Cummings, now chief polecat to alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, was a mere SpAd at the Department for Education working for Michael “Oiky” Gove, he was rumoured to be one of those behind a particularly abusive Twitter account called @toryeducation. This he denied. But the claims kept on coming.

The account attacked anyone criticising Gove and his pals. Margaret Hodge? “Lying hypocrite”. Chris Patten? “Absolutely useless in every job he’s had”. BBC reports? “Appalling”. Tristram Hunt? “Credibility already shot”. Robert Peston? “Remember when you thought the Euro was brilliant?” Hannah Richardson? “Fire her now”. Zelo Street, and Tom Barry at Boris Watch? “Wastrels … too much slacking. Pull your socks up”.

Anyone not get that? “Someone fire Hannah Richardson NOW ... how about a story on HYPOCRITE HODGE ... stop wasting taxpayers’ money on Twitter [my favourite] ... hypocrisy from Hunt and Hodge ... you’re an even crapper hack than you think we think you are … are you lying or just reading the wrong figures? INTEGRITY HODGE, GET SOME”. Still Cummings denied any part in it. But he was fooling no-one.

So it came to pass that Toby Helm, then at the Observer, and one of @toryeducation’s favourite targets, told readersMichael Gove's Department for Education has taken steps to stop the Twitter feed @toryeducation - to which his own advisers have contributed - from issuing any more abuse against political opponents, critics and journalists”.

There was more. “Two weeks ago, the Observer named two of Gove's special advisers, Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete, as contributors to the anonymous account. Dissemination of party political material and personal attacks are both sackable offences under the code for special advisers. Cummings and De Zoete have refused to deny that they have contributed to the feed, saying merely that they are ‘not @toryeducation’”.

More ominously for those still wondering about the fake accounts O’Connell has uncovered, “Two weeks ago the Conservative party disowned the account. This is despite the fact that it was listed as an official party account on Twitter until the day after the Observer first reported who was behind it, two weeks ago. Then it was suddenly delisted”.

Then, a year after Helm’s article, Cummings was grassed up by his own side. Amid a row over free school meals, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog introduced their “Gove v Clegg Proxy War” post “Dominic Cummings, the ex-Gove adviser formerly known as @ToryEducation”. So it was Dom after all.

Cummings is not, it seems, subject to the controlling hand of his current boss right now, and restored to health following his brush with Covid-19. And by complete coincidence you understand, the Twitter fakery is firing up again. As Private Eye magazine might have put it, I wonder if the two are in any way related? I think we should be told.
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Arnold said...

"Cummings is not, it seems, subject to the controlling hand of his current boss right now,"
Was he ever?

Anonymous said...

Britain: A house of cards inside a wilderness of mirrors.

We let it happen.

tovangar2 said...

Arnold, please don't mistake Johnson for Cummings' 'boss'. Cummings works for Matthew Elliott who works for others offshore.