[Update. More fake news — claims we kept advertising during the ‘pause’ after Jo Cox’s murder. Wrong. The spreadsheet data from Facebook reflects when the ads were created, not when they were shown. AIQ was putting stuff into the system during the pause, not running ads. Again this false meme is already around the world. Alistair 45 minutes Campbell is ranting about moral cesspits. But yet again it’s fake news.
Incidentally, I opposed any pause at the time. I think the right way to deal with terrorism is to carry on with normal life, like Britain used to when it was a more serious country. (I hated the way Cameron would tweet in response to ISIS, giving them just what they want. I hated the way Cameron and Blair read out in Parliament names of people killed which had the same effect. I thought it also reflected SW1’s basic ignorance about how to deal with information operations against terrorist groups in many ways more sophisticated about communication than traditional institutions — eg. Hezbollah often does TV better than the Tory Party.) But I was outvoted by MPs who downed tools and headed back to London, giving Osborne/Dre the chance to use the news as they wished. But they botched it — in a classic case study of people fooling themselves, they thought that the country reflected the mood of Inner London. They started tweeting broken hearts and ‘we love our MP’ at each other. They therefore blew their last chance to recover from strategic misjudgements. Those who would run Remain in a second referendum remain disconnected from reality and on current form would botch a second referendum which anyway would be held in circumstances much more favourable to Leave on almost every dimension.
Also NB. Carole Cadwalladr has commented below and I will answer shortly.
Also NB. contra some reports, I was not sent the report by the Committee. I’m told they did send it to ‘witnesses’ but that did not include me. I was sent it by someone in Parliament fed up with Collins’ dishonesty and blatant use of Carole’s conspiracies for his own end of overturning the referendum result.]
A few thoughts on the last 24 hours of conspiracy theories plus a copy of the DCMS Select Committee report on fake news. They gave it to Carole for Sunday, obviously, but someone appalled at their dishonesty leaked it to me so I publish it below. It is, in keeping with their general behaviour, itself fake news.
Most of SW1 has suffered a psychological and operational implosion because of the referendum.
Many MPs, hacks and chalatan-pundits on both sides have responded to the result by retreating to psychologically appealing parallel worlds rather than face reality — ‘the frogs before the storm’ prefer the comforting Oblonsky mental fug of groupthink.
A subset of the ERG, for example, welcomed the December agreement on the Irish backstop that actually spelled doom for their central ideas about how the negotiations were being conducted. Bernard Jenkin was so confident that he and Cash understood what was happening he cheerfully wrote that he had not needed to read it before welcoming it. This is the same group now ranting about Chequers — which was programmed by the December agreement, as are the imminent further surrenders in the autumn on Free Movement and everything else! This is the same group that tells everyone that people like me who say that serious preparations are needed to leave the EU are ‘like those peddling the Millennium Bug’. Their ideas on preparations are as accurate as their ideas on the December agreement were and of course in order to avoid facing their tragi-comic blunders of judgement over two years they are constructing parallel worlds for their minds to live in.
Hardcore Remainers are similar. They want a second referendum and this requires de-legitimising the first. They therefore hysterically spread false memes while shouting ‘liars’ at Leavers. Cash and Carole have a lot in common.
The last 24 hours has illustrated again how the entire story about Vote Leave / data / digital communications has become a great case study in contemporary politics: ubiquitous accusations of lying by people who either lie or are entirely reckless about the truth, almost nobody figuring out reality before babbling all over social media setting off cascades of false information, MPs clueless about basic legal issues also spreading false memes and so on.
A few simple points about the new wave of fake news.
Carole has spread countless factual errors for over a year. When I explained how we had followed best practice to safeguard personal data by quickly deleting the VL electoral database containing tens of millions after the referendum, she turned this professional and ethical behaviour (not copied by the Remain campaign which kept it all) into accusations of me ‘destroying evidence’ and perverting the course of justice. This sort of thing has happened repeatedly.
Over the past 24 hours she has constructed new fake memes now spreading across the world.
1. The latest astonishing ‘crimes’ according to Carole et al is that the VL ads did not have ‘imprints’, were ‘dark’, unethical and illegal. She has tweeted dozens of times along the lines of:
‘[Vote Leave] DELIBERATELY BROKE THE LAW by leaving off who paid for it… No wonder Dominic Cummings wouldn’t come to parliament. No wonder @facebook didn’t want to release this shit. This is truly toxic, dark, absolutely undemocratic shit at the heart of the biggest election we’ll ever see… Look at this stuff. Fake fake fake news. It’s not an ad. It’s not labelled as an ad. It doesn’t say who placed it or who paid for it or who it was targeted at or way. This is the fakiest of fake news. And until today we had no idea about any of this’.
This is totally wrong and reflects deep misunderstandings.
a. The campaigns were NOT legally required to carry imprints in the same way as printed material. Carole is factually wrong about the law again.
b. This is actually irrelevant because the VL ads that Carole claims were ‘dark’ and criminal because ‘no imprint’ actually were clearly labelled as VL. The images she is pulling from the FB data dump are raw images — they are not images of the actual ads themselves. The images sat within a ‘frame’ which everyone seeing them on Facebook would see. This included ‘Vote Leave’ and other text and also had a weblink.
E.g Carole posts this as new evidence that I should be locked up — an image ‘without imprint’:
(By the way, you CANNOT trust David ‘pave the road from Ankara’ Cameron on Turkey! Don’t believe me? Watch this!)
This is how ads actually appear on Facebook:
Thousands of people are now spreading Carole’s memes across the internet. They are shocked and appalled — surely the criminal Cummings will finally be jailed etc.
2. Amid the data dump of Facebook ads, there are claims that VL promoted BeLeave ads. This is a misunderstanding and the BBC has corrected their story. These ads appear in the 0-999 impressions box in the FB spreadsheet because the actual number of impressions was ZERO. They never ran. This issue is related to AIQ’s recent explanation of an error they made with loading audiences for BeLeave. It is detailed and technical and I won’t go into it here but in a nutshell: VL did not promote BeLeave ads. Remain, however, did do this but of course nobody cares. (It is more forgivable to make mistakes about this as it is a tricky niche issue.)
3. Another criminal conspiracy Carole is spreading across the internet concerns Brexit Central. This was set up after the vote (not by me). Grimes went to work on it and merged the BeLeave page into the BC page hence FB labels them confusingly as ‘Brexit Central/BeLeave’. Without asking anybody what it means, Carole and others have screamed ‘aha this organisation secretly existed before the vote and was illegally advertising, LOCK UP CRIMINAL CUMMINGS.’ Wrong again.
There are many other false memes spreading but there’s no point going into all of them.
Also NB. I asked months ago for Facebook to publish everything in the interests of transparency. Will Will Straw do as I did and ask Facebook to publish EVERYTHING they have about the Remain campaign? I’m not holding my breath.
HERE IS THE DCMS REPORT ON FAKE NEWS. IT IS… FAKE NEWS
The report knowingly/incompetently makes false claims regarding Vote Leave, AIQ and BeLeave. Despite nobody ever producing any evidence for Carole’s original loony conspiracy theory that I was secretly coordinating with Arron Banks, Bannon and Robert Mercer, the Committee also asks for yet another inquiry of this and of course they want the police involved to give credibility to their fantasies and legitimise their campaign for a second referendum. The MPs know Facebook has explained to them that VL COULD NOT HAVE used the notorious Facebook data acquired by Cambridge Analytica but they try to provide credibility to these conspiracy theories.
Further, these MPs have littered their report with errors and misunderstandings about the legal framework for elections, thus spreading further confusion. They haven’t even bothered to understand GDPR, which they mis-explain badly. Collins et al have shown no interest in the truth. Now MPs publish a document after months of supposed work that makes basic errors about electoral law which will debase public debate even further.
NB. I HAVE SUGGESTED TO MPS THAT I COME AND GIVE EVIDENCE AND WE ALL OPERATE UNDER OATH. NOT A SQUEAK FROM THEM.
JUST LIKE THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION REFUSED TO SPEAK TO ME OR ANYBODY ELSE FROM VOTE LEAVE OVER TWO YEARS AND THREE INQUIRIES.
AS JACK NICHOLSON SAYS, ‘THE TRUTH? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!’
If the MPs really want to get to the bottom of this, all they have to do is promise to tell the truth. Come on guys, step up to the plate…
If SW1 put 1% of the effort it’s put into spreading fake news about Vote Leave into FIXING THE LAWS as I suggested BEFORE Carole’s conspiracy theories got traction, we would be in a much healthier state. But SW1 is rotten…
Hugo Rifkind says ‘Whatever you think of the referendum result, we can’t ever let there be a campaign like this again.’
Tough luck Hugo — if your side gets its way and there is another referendum, Vote Leave 2 will be much much worse for your side than VL1 was. VL2 will win by more than VL1 and the logical corollary will be to morph into a new party and fight the next election ‘to implement the promises we made in the referendum because the MPs have proved they can’t be trusted’. At a minimum VL2 will win the referendum and destroy the strategic foundations of both main parties. The Tories will be destroyed and maybe Labour too. The rotten civil service system will be replaced and the performance of government will be transformed for the better. Investment in basic science research will flow. Long-term funding for the NHS guaranteed by law. MORE high skilled immigrants, FEWER low-skilled. An agenda that could not be described as Left or Right. The public will love it. Insiders will hate it but they will have slit their own throats and have no moral credibility. Few careers will survive.
Is there enough self-awareness and self-interest among MPs to realise the consequences? Hard to say. I’m more critical of SW1 than almost any Insider and even I have been surprised by the rottenness. It will be no surprise if they slit their own throats.
So far the MPs have botched things on an epic scale but it’s hard to break into the Westminster system — they rig the rules to stop competition. Vote Leave 1 needed Cameron’s help to hack the system. If you guys want to run with Adonis and create another wave, be careful what you wish for. ‘Unda fert nec regitur’ and VL2 will ride that wave right at — and through — the gates of Parliament.
Ps. One hack who does actually pay attention to facts on this subject is Jim Waterson. It can’t be comfortable pointing out facts at the Guardian on this story so double credit to him.
[Pps. Sorry for mis-remembering Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson to those who messaged.]
Dom. Great to have your input. If only you could have given that in person to MPs as they repeatedly asked you to. You still have not provided any cogent or reasonable answer about why you refuse to answer parliament’s questions. You campaigned for parliament’s sovereignty and yet you do not respect British laws and you deliberately seek to undermine its authority. Can you explain why?
I was posting on Twitter as I looked through those files last night It would have been great to have had yours or Matthew Elliott’s input at any stage. He was online – smearing Damian Collins – why didn’t he chip in? I knew that the law required imprints on political advertisements. I went and read the guidelines to referendum campaigners and that included digital adverts too…but as others pointed out this morning – and as I updated to make clear – the ones for digital ads are different. They *do not have the force of law*. So, you’re quite correct. There is a loophole.
A loophole that you knew about and exploited because you make no mention of the framing of the 50 million ads. They didn’t have any mention of Vote Leave, did they? Or at least from the information released by Facebook, there was nothing to say who the advert was on behalf of or what it was for? (Anonymously harvesting people’s data.) Can you please display how these were seen on Facebook and explain your rationale for apparently not disclosing who was placing the advertisement or how it was intended to be used?
You mention nothing about the toxic nature of these adverts. Their overt racism. The scaremongering. The blatant lies. Would you like to comment on those?
And can you comment too on the adverts that were shown after Jo Cox was murdered and campaigning was suspended. It appears that some of these ads – including one labeled “Breaking News” – were scheduled during that period. Certainly they reached millions of people. Can you clarify: were you campaigning during that period? Or is there another explanation?
Which of these ads were posted publicly to Vote Leave’s Facebook page? And which were dark? The majority of these have never been seen publicly before so it seems at least some are the latter. Could you clarify? And specify which.
It is really helpful and important to have input – that’s why I’ve repeatedly sent you questions to which I’ve never had any proper replies. I anticipate your fullest response so that we can be sure to get this right.
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There’s no overt racism in the ads. Stop lying. Seriously, you lie and lie and lie and lie. Stop.
1/ I’ve never ‘refused to answer’ questions as you know. I offered to negotiate a date with Collins and he refused the offer. I’ve also offered to give evidence to a different committee — though I’ve suggested we ALL should do it UNDER OATH. Wouldn’t that be a good way to set an example to the nation — political discussions with everyone forced to be careful about the truth?!
2/ ‘I was posting on Twitter as I looked through those files last night It would have been great to have had yours or Matthew Elliott’s input at any stage.’ That’s not how journalism works. You don’t babble nonsense on Twitter accusing people of being racist criminals and expect that they’re monitoring you 24/7 and leap in to fix your repeated errors. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FACT CHECK BEFORE MAKING CLAIMS.
As you know, the Observer and you have had to delete many defamatory claims you’ve made (about others) based on fantasies. Remember how you made claims about ‘deleting the google drive’ that I told you were lies, and you’ve had to delete all that from the Guardian website and your twitter feed AND PAY LEGAL COSTS TO THOSE YOU DEFAMED?
3/ ‘So, you’re quite correct. There is a loophole.’ Glad to see this but how about deleting all your tweets that call us criminals — or do you think it’s OK to accuse people of being ‘criminals’ on the basis of errors and leave the errors spreading across the world?
5/ ‘can you comment too on the adverts that were shown after Jo Cox was murdered and campaigning was suspended. It appears that some of these ads – including one labeled “Breaking News” – were scheduled during that period. Certainly they reached millions of people.’ Wrong. As I’ve explained on my blog. Ads were not shown in that time. You think it is ‘certain’ — your certainty is unfounded.
6/ Lies? Cameron wanted to ‘pave the road from Ankara’, it’s on film. Fact!
7/ We ran no ‘dark’ posts despite repeated claims to the contrary. Everything you see in the FB data dump was a normal FB ad. Remember, I asked FB to release everything weeks ago. Are you asking Remain to do the same or are you happy for what they did to stay ‘dark’?
If you really care about facts and truth you will stop spreading fake news across the internet time after time.
Although lots of people call you a liar I don’t agree with them. The whistleblowers lied and have given multiple versions of the same events that would be shredded in open court under oath — e.g Sanni claiming he saw me have meetings with Grimes and AIQ (total invention, no such meetings happened but of course the EC never asked me or Grimes about this or anything else). But I think you just want to believe we’re baddies, you trust the wrong people, and you don’t check stuff properly. If you’re going to write about fake news on a website that reaches millions, you have a particularly strong responsibility to stop spreading misinformation about this story. If you want to be treated like Bob Woodward, you should be careful about facts. If you’d done Watergate, Nixon would have been able to trash the story and get away with it.
In the autumn, you and I should do an interview. You interview me for 90 minutes and ask whatever you want. But then I’ll interview you for 90 minutes about your reporting. All on film so no fancy editing.
And in the meantime you should ask the MPs — why not call Cummings’ bluff and accept his offer for a multi-hour session, no questions banned, with all of you under oath so you can finally nail him?
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Hole. Shovel. Furious digging sounds. When does the self-awareness kick in? When are you going to start with the evidence and then draw conclusions, rather than starting with a conclusion, and repeatedly inventing ‘facts’ to fit the conclusion. This is an embarrassment to journalism.
Tut tut, Chris. Start with the evidence and *then* draw conclusions? What kind of dishonest person would do that?
I don’t know why you think Leave would win any ref on the deal. You’ve had 2 years to offer a vision of the future and you’ve not done so.
All the tricks you pulled in the initial ref couldn’t be pulled again. All these buffons are exposed as charlatans. You couldn’t let it be all things to all people, because the Leave side would have to stick to what’s on offer in the deal.
You seem to be in a different world chap, we’re not simply re-running the 2016 ref.
None of your side seems to have grasped the revolutionary implications of the votes for Brexit and Trump. You had the establishment and the media on your side, and you lost. All you are interested in doing is dehumanising, or at best, victimising those who voted against you. It is you who don’t seem to understand the world as is. You lost the referendum because you represent a culture of nested lies, so ingrained that you yourselves can’t remember what’s true any more. You invent diversions to explain away the truth when it does confront you.
If you win, because of your lies and your smears about the leave campaign, and we end up staying in as either a vassal or membership on worse terms, I don’t think you have thought through the schism you will cause in here, in an EU, in which a populist wave is building for their elections next year. You have played a deeply destructive and deeply dangerous game for the last two years, and you appear to have been found out before it’s completely too late.
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Similar points would apply to the Remain side too. Project Fear was rightly criticised by some for its absurd predictions, but even then it was hard for the Leave side to gain dominance of that narrative, especially with the entire weight of the media and academic classes behind it. Do you think that it would be the case now?
I was a remainer, but CC’s comments above just seem completely and absurdly to miss the point. Project Fear turned out to be a pack of lies. The public will never care about VL’s exaggerations, or about frames on Facebook, because it is and was obvious that both campaigns were partisan and tendentious. Johnson may be full of it, but so was Osborne. Moreover, whenever the facts are examined in any detail, Cummings turns out to be a fantastically shrewd operator (if, in my opinion, misguided) rather than any kind of conspiracist. No doubt she means well, but she sounds desperate.
The real mystery about DC is this: knowing what he knows (and exposes so viciously in his magnificent blog) about the corruption and inefficiency of Whitehall; knowing the vanity and ignorance of politicians; the resistance to change or thought; the black hole of institutional inertia in the Civil Service; the systematic self-delusion in public life, why on God’s earth did he ever think they would deliver a Brexit that wasn’t a catastrophe? If ever anything was predictable, this was it. Where was your OODA loop, Dominic? Of course they triggered article 50 years too early. They’re idiots! Which was exactly your observation about them all along. I don’t get it.
I can see why you found it so difficult to appear at the enquiry.
“They started tweeting broken hearts and ‘we love our MP’ at each other”
You really are a very unkind, rude and vile man.
Mr. Cummings, could you comment on the racism, the lies and the scaremongering in your campaign ads and the misleading information (a quarter of those who voted Brexit have said they were misled by your ads) used in your campaign? For example, your ads were saying that Albania, Montenegro and Turkey are joining the EU or that we were sending 350 million that we could use for NHS, etc per week to the EU, both of these statements are proven to be false. Why?
Furthermore, if your side is so confident of VL2 result, why is it so opposed to it? If VL2 can really achieve all those points you have mentioned above, this would be a very good outcome for your cause, why not support it?
What’s the source of this “a quarter of those who voted Brexit have said they were misled by your ads”? I and many others decided to vote leave decades ago.
“(a quarter of those who voted Brexit have said they were misled by your ads) used in your campaign”
No they haven’t, please don’t speak for Brexit Leavers we haven’t changed our minds, and haven’t been mislead. EU was talking about Albania and Turkey long before referendum debates
There appears to be quite a massive ‘misprint’ in the ‘fake news publication.
Click to access 363.pdf
Vote Leave also returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report, with nearly £234,501 reported incorrectly, and invoices missing for £12,849,99 of spending.
According to the Electoral commission report, linked put this at £12,849.99
Click to access Report-of-an-investigation-in-respect-of-Vote-Leave-Limited-Mr-Darren-Grimes-BeLeave-and-Veterans-for-Britain.pdf
So £12 million or £12 thousand?
An honest mistake or deliberately misleading? It makes you wonder if they can’t get this right
Maybe you should start a VL2 Party anyway and have it ready to launch? We are heading for BRINO at best and need a party to implement a real Brexit. I’d vote for you!
And what if any responsibility do you take for the absolute mess that this nation faces. As the orchestrator who exploited the fears of common people for an intellectual experiment – are you aware of your role in the demolition of industries and communities? Are you sorry?