The wet Tory Reform Group is trying to weaponise an attention seeking Leave.EU tweet implying 10,000 of its ‘members’ have joined the Tories. The remainers at the TRG see it as a useful recruitment tool for themselves…
Guido would advise that anyone falling for the TRG/Leave.EU spin should take a look at the full list of things Arron Banks has promised that never happened:
Judicial review of EU referendum designation
Hollywood movie about Brexit
Invoicing UKIP £200,000
Pirate radio station in Clacton
Fielding candidates to oust 100 MPs
Draining the Swamp at the next election.
Bankrolling the Andrea Leadsom leadership campaign
Suing Vote Leave’s CEO Matthew Elliott
Buying Guido lunch
What Leave.EU has managed to do once again is give ammunition to the ultra-remainers trying to stop Brexit. Anyone indulging him is either an idiot or a remainer.
Damian Collins wants to know if Arron Banks took Moscow gold to fund the Leave.EU campaign. Arron wanted to appear in front of the DCMS Select Committee, then he said he wouldn’t go, now he says he’ll see them next week. Collins versus Banks should be fun…
Guido tries not to give Leave.EU too much attention – that is, after all, what they want. With UKIP on 1% in the polls and Brexit progressing, they need to say increasingly bonkers things to maintain the publicity they crave. Leave.EU were not the official Leave campaign – they are, to coin a phrase, a fringe group who do not represent mainstream Brexiters. It says it all that their graphics tend to get retweeted by more Remainers than Brexiters. Julia is right:
Dear @LeaveEUOfficial, your tweets are doing a terrible disservice to Brexit voters. Your tweets are often crude, divisive and nasty. I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve but I’m pretty sure the British people don’t want it. Please stop. https://t.co/LnOY4pjnpU
Arron Banks is backing a new “anti-establishment” news and comment website to be run by Nigel Farage’s former spinner Michael Heaver. “Westmonster” will apparently be “modelled on theDrudge Report”, so expect plenty of external links aggregating Brexit/UKIP news stories. This is Heaver’s second attempt at an aggregator website. Certainly interesting to see if it takes off – Heaver can tap into the social media following from Banks’ Leave.EU so he will be starting with a very decent Facebook presence. The site is not to be confused with the Westmonster which launched in 2007 and went bust a year or so later.
Westmonster will enter the crowded ideological media space ocupied by the likes of Breitbart Londonand Conservative Woman, offering op-eds and hot takes starting with Farage today. There is a niche for alt-right style viral news and opinion, and as Breitbart have found it brings a lot of trash traffic. Tough to maintain credibility while chasing those sorts of clicks though. So what can readers expect? Links in the Westmonster ‘trending’ section this morning include “Brits want burka banned”, its first blog rails against “wall-to-wall bitching and whining from Remoaners”. Guido wishes them well…
The social media profiles of UKIP’s leadership candidates show Raheem Kassam was far ahead of his rivals before he pulled out this morning. The best indicator of online campaign support was the twibbon, where supporters add a campaign slogan to their social media profiles. Raheem had 1,326 twibbons, dwarfing leadership favourite Nuttall’s 214 – and yet all the signs indicate that Nuttall will win. Despite the online support Kassam admitted this morning that one of the reasons for quitting was he couldn’t raise enough money: “While we raised enough for our deposit, and got over 200 assentors to my nomination, we could not raise enough for this to be more than a digital campaign run from SW1”. What does this tell us about the relative importance of digital campaigning?
This has implications for Leave.EU, the pro-Brexit campaign group set up by multi-millionaire businessman Arron Banks, which backed Raheem. Leave.EU claims their huge social media reach* helped create “an extraordinary mass movement, drawing in swathes of voters neglected by the main political parties.” Banks has hinted that this will be the kernel for a new “people’s movement”.Banks is confusing “likes”, “follows” and casual clicktivism with active support. Leave.EU bought Facebook “likes” essentially by buying traffic.
Digital campaigns which enable commitment; donations, offline meetings, phone banking and membership drives do actually achieve something. Campaigns which generate clicks, petition signings and social flag counts are just virtue signalling. The casual easy click is no more substantive or permanent than what is trending online at any moment. Guido speaks as someone who garnered a million signatures and emails in one campaign, Banks has not got the beginnings of a popular movement, he has captured the virtue signals of a moment…
*As Dominic Cummings rightly points out, Facebook’s algorithms mean that Leave EU’s half-a-million “likes” are just a form of digital dick-waving, they achieve nothing in terms of visibility or extending reach. Leave.EU has less than half as many Twitter followers as @GuidoFawkes…
UKIP donor Arron Banks’ spokesman says he is keen to help out Andrea Leadsom’s leadership campaign in any way possible, including financially. This morning Banks’ Leave.EU group endorsed Andrea after internal polling showed she was their supporters’ choice. Both Tory and Labour Leave.EU supporters say Andrea is their favourite – 30 plus Leave MPs are expected to back her too. Banks’ team quickly released the above graphic and promise further online posters in their inimitable style. Worth noting Leadsom and her husband have money of their own so may not need a bankroller. Though Leave.EU will be telling their million plus social media followers to back Leadsom. She may want to ask them to tone down those ISIS / Orlando / Kalashnikov posters from the referendum campaign…
Leave.EU’s Brexit music fest BPop Live has suffered a spate of pullouts from its star-studded line-up after the Mirror/Buzzfeed fun police called up the talent and told them it was a political event. They lost their last big name, East 17, yesterday, though Stay Another Day didn’t really work for this anyway. Guido hears Leave.EU are on the hook for half a million quid for the concert at the 16,000 capacity Genting Arena in Birmingham. A new line-up will be announced shortly, one plan under consideration is to get past patriotic Eurovision entries to sing for Britain once again. You can still buy your tickets here…
Once again the two main Leave campaigns are doing their laundry in public. Leave.EU’s Arron Banks has written to Vote Leave blaming their campaign director Dom Cummings for being “the only person standing in the way” of a merger.
“As I have said previously, the only person apparently standing in the way of a formal merger is Dominic Cummings. With his latest comments suggesting the Prime Minister use anything other than Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to initiate our withdrawal from the EU, he has become a liability and a danger to both Leave campaigns.
I have stressed before, the importance of having one united ‘Leave’ campaign as I believe it is counter-productive to the end goal that we are both deploying resources on grassroots activists and the media.
I therefore extend my hand, again, for us to open up talks about how we can move forward as one unstoppable campaign devoted to securing a Leave vote and only a Leave vote in the one and only referendum we will have.”
Which is slightly odd considering Leave.EU reportedly offered Cummings a massive sum to jump over to them.
A Vote Leave spokesman says curtly: “There will be no merger.”
At the weekend the Leave side took a six point lead in the polls. Yet some Outers still seem more interested in arguing amongst themselves…
Several polls over the last month or so have put the Leave campaign ahead of the Remainers, or at the very least had them neck and neck. This morning ORB has the Leavers up 5 points to52%, while the Remainers sink by five points to 48%. This is the first time that ORB have recorded majority support for Brexit.
Even better news is that Vote Leave and Leave.EU have started merger talks. A lead in the polls boosted by a united campaign for Brexit would make things interesting…
Around 1,000 people watched Nigel Farage’s Basingstoke speech on the Paris attacks last night, which was punchy even for him. The UKIP leader wasted no time in immediately declaring to rapturous applause:
“there is a problem with some of the Muslim community in this country… We have a fifth column that we have welcomed in…”
Farage then mocked Cameron’s demands for EU reform as reminiscent of Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement, going as far as to wave a piece of paper around. Yesterday Guido noted how Nigel had a point when he predicted ISIS would pose as refugees, last night he went further:
“The warnings were pretty clear… ISIS said they would use the migrant tide to flood the EU with half a million jihadists… I would suggest 5000 is too many… 500 is too many… it only took eight to cause that destruction in Paris the other night… This dream of the free movement of people, this dream for others of the Schengen area. It hasn’t just meant the free movement of people, it has meant the free movement of Kalashnikov rifles. It has meant the free movement of terrorists, and it has meant the free movement of jihadists.”
Guido was rather surprised when he went to the bar for a post-speech pint with a co-conspirator, only to be told UKIP had requested they didn’t serve alcohol…