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The great British Brexit robbery (theguardian.com)
364 points by rbanffy on May 7, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 334 comments



What's really scary about these recent developments is that we're losing the ability to critically analyze the ideas and arguments that are being used to influence people.

Back in the days of network TV, you might not agree with everything that was being said, but you could at least see the arguments that were being used to convince others.

Even the early so-called behaviour change campaigns, such as 'Five a Day' (a marketing campaign that most didn't realize was a marketing campaign that has long since been accepted as a piece of general health advice) were quite benign.

Here it seems that an influence / behaviour change campaign could be waged relatively cheaply against a relatively small number of people, exist completely outside the normal rules for fact checking or veracity, and the majority of the population would have no idea about it.

I'm not sure I agree with the thesis of the piece - that Cambridge Analytica played even a primary role in Brexit happening (I think it was always pretty likely, due to UK tabloids having campaigned for around 20 years on the issue, lack of organization in the Remain campaign, Corbyn failure to engage working class voters etc, hell even a latent feeling that the EU maybe isn't that great after all), but the techniques for doing this will only become more sophisticated and I wouldn't be surprised to see them become a common feature of our democracy.


The point of democracy is the implicit threat: if you, as a leader of the country, mess up the lives of the people you govern, you'll get kicked out. Aside from that, democracy has mostly negative

This prevents the situation from getting out of hand before it completely descends into violence.

That's it. That's the sum total of what democracy gets us.

Analyzing critical ideas is not now, and wasn't ever part of the democratic process. Cicero was complaining about citizen's lack of analyzing critical ideas (except when directly hurting them in the wallet) in 70 BC. You can read about leaders from the French revolution lamenting the same, and even in cases where only limited self government exists, like today in Bahrain, you find most analysts complaining that the large majority of the people who have influence (usually local landowners) do not think critically at all.

What has happened is simple: the previous government was pro-Europe, couldn't get Europe to commit to basic concessions that would make British lives easier, and the imposed austerity made a lot of people's lives worse in a very concrete and visible way. So they were voted out.

Now you can argue that they were right, that it wasn't their fault that this happened, and I might even agree with you. But as the government, I do understand, this is not good enough.


> the previous government was pro-Europe, couldn't get Europe to commit to basic concessions that would make British lives easier, and the imposed austerity made a lot of people's lives worse in a very concrete and visible way.

Are you thinking of Greece here?

The "imposed austerity" was purely the choice of the Conservative government in the UK, and the "concessions" demanded seemed to be an end to freedom of movement, which was always a non-starter and wouldn't make the lives of Brits better in any discernable way.

What has happened is simple: there has long been a war inside the Conservative party between the pro-EU side and the anti-EU side. Cameron hoped that calling a referendum and deploying "project Fear" which had won the Scottish indyref would settle the question. Unfortunetely he'd misunderstood the Scottish result and Project Fear was hugely counter-productive.

This is why UKIP have ceased to exist in the council elections: they're now in control of the Conservative party.

(I mean, if I wanted to make a case against the EU, I'd do it on the basis of how Greece was treated - but even Greece didn't choose to leave, as they recognised that it would make them even worse off economically. UK anti-Europeanism seems to be built around a mixture of desire to deport foreigners, "bendy bananas" lies promulgated by Boris, and hatred of the metric system)


"(I mean, if I wanted to make a case against the EU, I'd do it on the basis of how Greece was treated - but even Greece didn't choose to leave, as they recognised that it would make them even worse off economically."

Greece had literally no choice. The ECB threatened to deliberately nuke Greece's economy if they left. Since the process of leaving would have required about 5 years of careful extrication to be done painlessly and the ECB and switching off emergency lending can be done in hours (they gave Greece a little taster of that), Greece was in no position to do really do anything except kowtow to ECB demands, which they did.

Meanwhile Varoufakis's contingency plans to wrest control back of the tax agency from the troika and issue an alternate currency as a first step to potentially leaving attracted Orwellian charges of high treason.

If the EU/ECB wanted to make it possible for Greece to leave without nuking their economy, they could have, which probably would have been more conducive to being paid back in the long (long) run. They went for their pound of flesh instead.

All of which makes me wonder what they have planned for the rest of Europe.


> The ECB threatened to deliberately nuke Greece's economy if they left

Do you mean anything other than "stopped lending additional funds" here?

> Orwellian charges of high treason

By whom? Where? When?

As I said, Greece's treatment could have been a lot better, but this doesn't apply to the UK. The UK is not a member of the Euro, is much larger than Greece, and potentially could have a much better position.

(Even more ludicrous is the idea of "Frexit". France have got literally everything they wanted out of Europe, including the Strasbourg gimmick)


"Do you mean anything other than "stopped lending additional funds" here?"

That's the switch which they can use to turn everything off, but what is also prohibited is implementing policy to actually dig them out of this hole without needing additional lending assistance which you'd think the EU would be in favor of if being paid back were actually their goal.

>By whom? Where? When?

Pro-EU Greek judges, aided and abetted by opposition parties:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/27/greece-cris...

It's worth noting that not everybody in Greece is against Greece's harsh treatment - some are profiting from it, in fact.

Anyway, that was basically the only route out (issuance of a new parallel currency or tax anticipation notes) and it's telling that the ELA got switched off in the following few days and how furious many in the EU were that he actually had a plan to get out.

>As I said, Greece's treatment could have been a lot better, but this doesn't apply to the UK.

Greece's treatment is inhuman. The EU was directly responsible for triggering a humanitarian crisis not even to get their money back (that debt is clearly a lost cause since 2011), but simply to inflict punishment for punishment's sake.

No, it doesn't apply to the UK. There are a lot of parallels though, mostly because the Tories and Labour's Blairites share a similar ideology to the ideologues at the ECB.

Greece's treatment demonstrates the depths the EU appears willing to sink to, however. Past behavior is indicative of future behavior.


I didn't read the grandparent post as suggesting that the EU had imposed austerity, just that it was one of the things that people were unhappy about and that they used the referendum as an outlet for their anger.


It's interesting - as Tocqueville (Democracy in America) and Mill (On Liberty) argued precisely that it was civil society and discourse that help us protect against a tyranny of the majority.

And that generally what separates 'democratizing' nations from 'democracies' is that one simply has democratic institutions such as voting, and the other has a culture of democratic decision making, civil discourse etc etc to go with it. Iraq may have elections and be able to kick out its leaders but it sure isn't a democracy in the same way Britain and the United States are.

Now its not a 'the people are stupid' argument that I'm making - there have been people throughout history who have contended that we take a too simplistic view of affairs. Fine, blah, I'm sure they do, and I'm happy to accept there are people who don't reason critically on both sides and there's no reason to think one side has a monopoly on those.

What I'm saying is that we can't fairly determine the information that is being seeded to all parties. It's the equivalent of someone turning up to lots of Tocqueville's town hall meetings and distributing pamphlets biased to one side to people who look like they're from a certain socioeconomic background as they walk in.

There is something that happened in Britain in the last five years that merits explanation. A population which according to Eurobarometer 2010 data, only five years ago was 45% Pro-EU and 33% anti voted 52% to 48% to Leave when the government of the day, international instutitions, and all major political parties were arguing that we should stay. This, in Britain, a country not generally known for upending its whole political system on a whim.

Now you can pin the explanation for that on whatever you want (and I happen to think your austerity theory has something in it), but it's reasonable to think in a democracy that we should be able to have a discussion (or at least know about) the factors that swayed people.


> 45% Pro-EU and 33% anti

Looking at the Eurobarometer autumn 2010 report at http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/archives/e... on page 47 (of the report, not the PDF) we have the UK listed polling 39% "negative or very negative", 38% neutral, and 19% "positive or very positive" in terms of their general perception of the EU.

And on page 36 of the same report, it's claimed that the UK was polling at 27% "we benefit from the EU", 60% "we don't benefit from the EU" and 13% "don't know".

Page 39 lists the UK (without specific numbers) in the list of countries where a majority believes that their "national interests are not properly taken into account".

So at first glance it seems to me that in autum 2010 the population of the UK wasn't all that sweet on the EU as a concept at all. I'd love to know what question the "45% Pro-EU and 33% anti" was a response to; I haven't found it in that PDF so far. The only mention of "45%" in reference to the UK I see is on page 49, where 45% of UK respondents think the EU is "democratic" (the only EU country with less than 50%!).


The problem is the direct voter communication bandwidth is at best a few bits per election. People need to condense thousands of very important choices into one overall choice per election. Which often boils down to are you doing a terrible job or not.

Granted elected officials often listen to side channels, but they care about what will influence the election not what most people actually want aka 'the will of the people'.


> Which often boils down to are you doing a terrible job or not.

Or even "you are doing a terrible job, but that other person would be worse".


> we can't fairly determine the information that is being seeded to all parties

Why do you think anyone should be in the position of "determining" the information that is being seeded? Fight disagreeable speech with agreeable speech, amirite, but don't yearn for a boss to tell which is which.


> Why do you think anyone should be in the position of "determining" the information that is being seeded? Fight disagreeable speech with agreeable speech, amirite, but don't yearn for a boss to tell which is which.

Maybe the more exact word for what I mean is "discern" rather than determine, though determine works fine too ("Officials are working to determine the cause of a bus crash").

Anyhoo, I don't yearn for such an arbiter.


>don't yearn for a boss to tell which is which.

This is not what is being said - I will quote the parent commenter:

"Here it seems that an influence / behaviour change campaign could be waged relatively cheaply against a relatively small number of people, exist completely outside the normal rules for fact checking or veracity, and the majority of the population would have no idea about it."

This is talking about being "bubbled", and how different collections of people are seeing completely different things, and because both sides don't know what the other is looking at, they become alienated from each other.

Furthermore, there is another problem - while a singular lie can be countered, a thousand different lies told to a thousand different communities is much harder to defend against.


What has happened is simple: the previous government was pro-Europe, couldn't get Europe to commit to basic concessions that would make British lives easier, and the imposed austerity made a lot of people's lives worse in a very concrete and visible way. So they were voted out.

This is factually incorrect. The EU had nothing to do with the crash of 2008 which prompted pro-cyclical austerity, the EU has given the UK opt-outs on many important policies, the concessions demanded (limits on freedom of movement) are not linked to economic benefits for the U.K., and the EU had nothing to do with conservative policies of austerity.

What has happened is not simple, and there is no one clear cause of the vote to leave.


> commit to basic concessions that would make British lives easier,

Britain has always had a large number of concessions with respect to their EU membership. They have a large rebate compared to other countries with a similar economy and effectively don't have many more obligations than Norway does, plus they sit in the European Parliament.


the rebate is only present as the way the contributions are calculated would lead to Britain paying many times per captia then other large rich nations due to the structure of its economy, and adding a rebate is politically easier than adjusting the contribution formula

other countries then have a rebate on the rebate...

norway chooses to stay out, so is not a fair comparison


Norway chooses to stay out but still has pretty much the same obligations as Britain, and doesn't have the possibility to discuss those obligations. Really, the EEA model makes absolutely no sense for the UK. If you have to go that way, it would have been much better to stay in the EU.

I'm curious what "basic concessions" the parent poster had in mind, beyond those that the UK could already enjoy. Certainly the end of free movement of people (which both Norway and Switzerland have to obey) doesn't count as a basic concession.


Restricting freedom of movement was fine when it was done by most existing EU members to the Visegrad countries at the time of their accession.


"At the time of accession" being the operative statement here. It is easy saying to a new entrant who desperately wants to join the club that you will temporarily restrict movement as a condition (and indeed the UK government had the choice to do so and didn't). Once the countries are members, and have the same right to free movement, and it would take their unanimous consent to remove freedom of movement, it is impossible to remove their rights.


My point was more that it is a bit off for the representatives of countries that did restrict freedom of movement to lecture the UK about it's importance. The UK could have applied similar restrictions but I think that the EU would be in worse shape if it had done, it would be nice to get a bit of credit for this.


Do the countries that entered the EU in 2004 and 2007 have any interest in doing such a step backwards?

Also, in some cases the Eastern countries also put restrictions on workers from the West.


I've long felt that the primary value of democracy isn't so much to select good leaders (since counterexamples abound) but to provide a mechanism to remove the really egregious ones.


in Italy we say "you're cutting off your dick to do your wife wrong"


I like it. I bet that's where the American "cut off your nose to spite your face" comes from, too - in a country that says "tidbit" instead of "titbit" and "bunny" instead of "coney", I don't think it's too hard to suspect the same Bowdleresque hand here.


> I bet that's where the American "cut off your nose to spite your face" comes from, too

Not to nitpick, but that term dates back to 12th century England.


Tid isn't a bowdlerization of tit; it's just a different pronunciation from a few hundred years ago.


I remember reading a piece that cited sources for both of the variants I quoted existing in modern American English as the result of deliberate bowdlerization. Once I'm back at my desk, I'll see if I can find it again.


> couldn't get Europe to commit to basic concessions that would make British lives easier, and the imposed austerity made a lot of people's lives worse in a very concrete and visible way.

How did the EU impose austerity on the UK?


I guess (s)he means https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stability_and_Growth_Pact:

"The fiscal discipline is ensured by the SGP by requiring each Member State, to implement a fiscal policy aiming for the country to stay within the limits on government deficit (3% of GDP) and debt (60% of GDP); and in case of having a debt level above 60% it should each year decline with a satisfactory pace towards a level below"


Though the UK is not bound by those rules anyway, so still not a great example:

"The only EU member state being exempted to comply with this MTO procedure is the UK, as it per a protocol to the EU treaty is exempted from complying with the SGP. In other words, while all other member states are obliged nationally to select at MTO respecting their calculated Minimum MTO, the calculated Minimum MTO for the UK is only presented for advice, with no obligation for it to set a compliant national MTO in structural terms."


I assumed that the [they] related to the previous government, although the EU did pass measures which essentially outlawed Keynesian economic solutions.

The Stability and Growth Pact would be hard to enforce in the UK, not least because Germany didn't even follow it itself.


At least regarding the UK and brexit I'd disagree with this. I'm a us/uk dual living in London and watched a bbc show called questiontime avidly pre-brexit vote. The show moves around the country each week with a different audience and generally skews left. But in the brexit issue week after week it was clear to see which side the audience was for. They just did not find the remain arguments compelling.

I think the UK is civically engaged and that the brexit outcome actually reflected this despite the sour grapes in London... and at the Guardian.


There are many problems with drawing inferences about overall public opinion from programmes like BBC Question Time. The main one is sample bias. Sampling occurs in three stages:

1) Audience members are self-selecting.

2) Audience members are then selected from the group that self-selected to represent a cross-section of the population.

3) Not all audience members get to ask their question, they are selected by the host.

The problem with the second stage is that there is a person, called an "audience producer", who selects people. When that person reposts the social media output of Britain First, an extremely far right political organisation, it questions whether they may have a political bias that may affect the sampling [0].

Watching Question Time could quite easily convince you that you are in a majority or a minority and you could be wrong. Treating Question Time as any kind of meaningful measure of public opinion is a form of self delusion, albeit one that's hard to shake off even if you know it. The only thing a person speaking on Question Time could tell you is that there exists a person with those views, and even that might not be true. Same goes for any other audience panel.

[0] https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/tim-holmes/is-question...


Oh god, I hate Question Time.

It doesn't "skew left" in any meaningful sense. There's almost always a UKIP member on the panel, regardless of how badly they do in the elections. There's always people banging on about how immigrants have ruined the country. Participants shout over one another, especially over women.

And it's not "sour grapes", it's people who wonder if they or their family members are going to be deported, or whether their business is going to continue to exist. Many people in the scientific community have already had their work disrupted due to uncertainty over funding and pan-European collaboration.


Fair observation, but it's worth noting that the person in charge of selecting the audience for Question Time was caught out as being extremely far right on the political spectrum. It's unlikely that the audiences you saw in the leadup to the vote were particularly balanced.

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/12/05/fresh-scandal-erupts-bbc-...


I don't see where the disagreement is. I agree that the population is civically engaged, and it's not a surprise that a show that moves around the country with a remit amongst the audience planners to include everyone has 'Leave' voters (Leave voters being as they are predominantly concentrated outside London and large cities).

My argument is that we are potentially no longer able to determine the arguments that are being used to influence people, which is significant when there has been a marked turn away from the EU in public opinion over the last five years.


Is it necessary to postulate a shadowy cabal of influencers at play here? Perhaps there's nothing there to identify, and the risk is instead of falling into the conspiracy theorist's trap of being so desperate to force legibility upon an illegible world that outright florid psychosis, a true break from reality, becomes preferable to simply accepting that too many things go on too often among too many people to ever be cohesively understood save in retrospect, and rarely enough even then.


You don't need to postulate a shadowy cabal because it's not shadowy.

Does it not bother you that David Cameron's first press officer was Murdoch-stooge Andy Coulson, who had already resigned as Editor as News of the World, and who was subsequently imprisoned for his role in phone hacking?

We're talking about someone who would attempt to hack the phone of anyone with a public profile - including politicians - and who was then employed to run the official government press office.

Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch's attitude to Europe is public knowledge:

https://www.indy100.com/article/this-terrifying-rupert-murdo...

So. It's not shadowy at all. It's not mysterious. No joining of dots is needed.

It's completely overt and out in the open. And it should never have been allowed this level of influence over British politics without being challenged.


David Cameron led the campaign to remain, as did the government. Coulson, the press officer whom Cameron picked, and who you're trying to finger as part of some "overt" and "out in the open" conspiracy, also campaigned for Remain and frequently attacked people campaigning to Leave:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-camerons-ex-staff...

How does this conspiracy theory even work? That Cameron's staff were secretly trying to lose whilst they were out campaigning to win? Because of an ex-employer?

That's not just illogical, it's completely incoherent. Think about what you're trying to argue there for a moment.


Yeah, influential Tories are likely to get jobs when a Tory government is in power. Much like how Seamus Milne will become the Corbyn's press officer come a labour win in June.

And that quote has always just been a standard issue made up internet quote. Murdoch was literally in the Guardian letter pages denying he ever said such a thing. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/19/rupert-murdoch...

And why would he say it? "When I go into Downing Street they do as I say" would be a bizarre utterance from a newspaper editor.


Again, my post made clear that I don't necessarily buy the thesis that Cambridge Analytica swung the election. So I don't see where the florid break from reality comes into it either.

My preference is strongly however to attempt to understand (and have visibility over) the factors that are influencing people rather than retreat behind a veil of 'we can't possibly understand it' ignorance.


I note that your profile says you are a strategist & speaker on "digital, UX and branding".

I would hope that a branding specialist would have no trouble understanding the Brexit result. It doesn't require deep analysis. Remain mounted a campaign that was defeatist and based on fear: "ok, our attempt to negotiate resulted in nothing at all, but we must still remain and obey Brussels because if we don't our friends and allies will destroy our economy."

As a logical consequence, they were effectively arguing that there was no future for British democracy, because the trend over time has always been for the EU to take more powers out of the hands of democratic local government and take it for itself.

That's a terrible brand. Leave campaigned on a better future with "take back control" as their byline.

You don't need conspiracy theories about corporations with mind-control machines to explain what happened next.


Yes the remain campaign was very negative. However it is also true to say that a lot of people voted leave on the promise of £350 million a week extra for the NHS (as painted on the Brexit Bus). Many people feel this is a straight-forward lie because a) The number is wrong (the governments own figure is £199m). The number of 350m is something like the gross contribution and could only be acheived with widespread cuts to services currently funded by the EU. b) The money was never going to get govern to the NHS.

I think this alone serves to demonstrate 1) your assertion about what caused the Brexit vote is a gross oversimplification 2) Why many people still won't accept the result.


it is also true to say that a lot of people voted leave on the promise of £350 million a week extra for the NHS

No it's not. Can you show that with any sort of data at all? Or do you define "a lot" as simply "more than a few"?

The Remain obsession with a single bus is really sad. There's no evidence that this was a major factor in the vote. Immigration and sovereignty were the top two issues as shown by repeated polls, vox pops, the views of campaigners themselves, etc.

It's an especially weak point to bring up because it appears to have been wrong in the wrong direction: nobody campaigning for the EU mentioned an £80 billion exit fee, and if that had been known about or incorporated, the true cost of membership would have been much higher, perhaps more like £500 million a week.

Additionally there were lots of lies told by the Remain campaign that were far more impactful and serious. For example, Cameron saying he'd stay on to negotiate with the EU in the case of an out vote (despite having failed to achieve anything before), which turned out to be a colossal lie. And a very important one because it made Osborne's threat of a "punishment budget" credible. Yet he resigned immediately, clearly he didn't decide that on the spot, he knew he wouldn't continue if he lost the vote.


Regarding your notion of "there's nothing there to identify" which I assume means there's nothing to the work of Cambridge Analytica.

If that was true then Cambridge Analytica would not make any money. The fact that Cambridge, and facebook, make money, and a ton of it, can make you relatively certain that they can influence people.


No, I'm referring to the idea that the Brexit vote wouldn't have come out as it did absent, essentially, a conspiracy.

That said, plenty of firms make money despite not actually doing as they purport to do. Perhaps Cambridge Analytica and Facebook and the like simply have yet to be exposed as charlatans.


> No, I'm referring to the idea that the Brexit vote wouldn't have come out as it did absent, essentially, a conspiracy.

Nobody upthread has disagreed with you on that. So why are you arguing?


In that case, it doesn't matter what Cambridge Analytica did or didn't do. So why are you?


Even if Cambridge Analytica was not necessary for the vote to come out as it did, what they are trying to do still does matter. Because they or someone else is definitely working on improving their techniques, and they will be used in any number of elections to come.


Facebook makes money through simple commercial advertising - nothing sinister there.

Cambridge Analytica might just make money by convincing fools that they have some secret insight or power, when they actually don't. Psychics and mediums have in the past made a ton of money, as did quack doctors. Coca-Cola started out as a quack cure-all and it still makes a ton of money today.

The basic narrative you're pursuing here is one that has cropped up a lot in the past 18 months: voters are, by and large, easily manipulated putty who don't have real reasons or analysis behind their decisions. Instead they simply do whatever shadowy Russian conspirators make them do through subtle manipulation of Facebook, the press, or whatever.

Simple, obvious explanations for what's happening in politics are staring us all straight in the face. Occam's Razor guys ... there is no need to go full chemtrails and pin responsibility on some invisible evidence-free conspiracy of random firms, people and countries. Just assume voters are on average, of average intelligence, and thus probably have reasonably straightforward reasons for doing what they do.


"I think the UK is civically engaged"

I tend to believe the opposite (purely anecdotally). Most people are apathetic when it comes to politics. We've just had local elections in the UK (seats for local councils and regional mayors). The turnout (i.e. the proportion of the population who turned up to vote) ranged from 21% to around the 30% mark for most regions in England. Turnout was higher in Scotland.

In the UK we have a lot of political discussion on TV, radio and in our highly partisan national press, but that doesn't mean the public are well-informed or particularly interested in politics. It doesn't help that many of our national newspapers deliberately seek to mislead or sway readers either. For example, when Theresa May announced a snap election, the headline in the Daily Mail wasn't 'May announces snap election', it was 'Crush the saboteurs' (opponents of Brexit).


I certainly did not get the sense a year ago that the average person in Britain really wanted there to be a referrendum at all. I just don't think your average person wanted to discuss it. In the end the referendum forced people to make a decision on a subject they didn't really care about. It is a bit like posing the question to a random passer-by. Do you want less bureaucracy? Well of course I do!


You could detect the 4% bias in question time?


Quite feasibly when you look at the geographical split. It's not like it was 52-48 across the country, there were very real regional divides.

While in London it may be more equal (including the famous Remain voter who asked who was going to make all the sandwiches in Pret), in somewhere like Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Lincoln, absolutely.


>I'm not sure I agree with the thesis of the piece - that Cambridge Analytica played even a primary role in Brexit happening (I think it was always pretty likely, due to UK tabloids having campaigned for around 20 years on the issue, lack of organization in the Remain campaign, Corbyn failure to engage working class voters etc, hell even a latent feeling that the EU maybe isn't that great after all), but the techniques for doing this will only become more sophisticated and I wouldn't be surprised to see them become a common feature of our democracy.

Not to mention that the EU wasn't ever a great success with many states. EU participation was voted down by several countries populations even when the times and economies were better.

From Denmark's opt-outs to Norway voting against participation in the EU (time and again), to the rejection of the European Constitution in referendums, to Ireland, etc. Add lots of protesting, and tons of criticism (including from Guardian, who know seems to have forgotten all about it) of the bureaucratic and un-democratic way decisions were taken in Brussels.

And considering that the explicitly stated concern of the pioneers of the European community project was to corner Germany and not let it attempt to dominate Europe again, that the EU ended up as a playground for German ambitions, where there's a de facto power center (10,000ft gorilla) that trumps democratic processes, doesn't speak well to the success of the original plan.

It's not like it's some great success, and the idea of abandoning it is batshit crazy. It's not even like EU has a vision for the future, or any answer to the challenges (of e.g. automation, immigration, terrorism, the digital age, etc).


> Here it seems that an influence / behaviour change campaign could be waged relatively cheaply against a relatively small number of people, exist completely outside the normal rules for fact checking or veracity, and the majority of the population would have no idea about it.

Lately I've been wondering what the percentage of paid shills on /r/the_donald might actually be. Considering how cheap it probably is, it could be extremely high. The thing is, unless I specifically filter out the subreddit, it regularly shows up in my 'all' feed, so it strikes me as an extremely cheap way have a far and wide reach.


>such as 'Five a Day' (a marketing campaign that most didn't realize was a marketing campaign that has long since been accepted as a piece of general health advice)

Care to provide your source for this?


I worked with someone who had worked on the campaign for Public Health England but:

“The 5 A DAY programme was launched in March 2003 as part of the health promotion activity by the Department of Health to encourage people to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.”

http://archive.senseaboutscience.org/pages/5-a-day-qa.html


Doesn't "marketing" suggest someone was trying to sell something?

This was a public health awareness campaign, and given the huge number of TV (and other) adverts they had, I'm surprised if people didn't see it as such.

I wouldn't call the road or railway safety campaigns 'marketing', but they're also well-run campaigns with lots of visibility and sometimes memorable phrases.


This risks getting into semantics, but no. The AMA definition of marketing is:

"the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating,delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." [1]

Having worked with the people who run such campaigns they would absolutely describe themselves as marketing practitioners, many move between public and private sector during the course of their career and the skillset and techniques for doing both are completely fungible. Worth remembering also that public health campaigns are paid for with public money.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing


> Doesn't "marketing" suggest someone was trying to sell something?

Yes. An agenda.

Personally, and I have held this opinion for more than 2 decades now, is that I don't see any practical difference between marketing campaigns and political propaganda. They are both trying to influence an audience for their own benefit, and are constantly trying to sell something.

Services. Check. Products. Check. Ideas. Check. A way of life. Check.

An agenda? Check.

(EDIT: make quoted text appear in italics)


What's the "own benefit" part in Five a Day, though?


Public Health campaigns tend to operate on the premise that it's more cost-effective to "inform"/"educate"/"sell" the idea of preventative healthcare than have obese / drunk drivers / heart attack patients clogging up A&E departments. It might be sound logic, but it's still marketing.


So where does public safety fit in?

For example, I wouldn't say this was political, they have nothing to sell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO5pI5pmYE4 (railway safety)

The campaign that started the "5 a day" thing was called Change 4 Life, and seems closer to education and information than propaganda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb0fLYdPEPM


QED: Change4Life describes itself as a "social marketing campaign," and as I pointed out deploys all of the techniques of regular marketing campaigns vis-a-vis audience segmentation etc. Change4Life isn't aimed at the whole population, but so-called "high-risk families."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change4Life

http://www.nhs.uk/Change4Life/supporter-resources/downloads/...


Critical analysis is overrated. At least in America, democracy worked just fine for two hundred years before modern methods of conveying information to the public. People vote based on their guts and their values and that works pretty well.

There isn't really any better option. The basic problem is that political science isn't a science. It's cargo cult science. (What passes for "analysis" among the wonktitude drives the engineer in me bonkers). On an issue like Brexit, there is nobody who can predict with anything approaching scientific certainty what the outcomes of the two choices will be. You can dress up your choice however you like, referencing reports of this or that expert (who all have conflicting opinions), but at the end of the day is imagine most Remain voting was also done based on a gut-feeling commitment to Pan-Europism.


It was ever thus - the American Cincinnatus famously conducted his "influence campaigns" with barrels of rum and of beer, and made his fortune in real estate by suckering many of his military colleagues out of the land grants that came with their mustering-out pay. Romanticizing the past appeals, but in reality Bismarck's sausage factory has always been this unlovely.

Alas for the chance to get a good drunk out of the whole rigamarole, at least. Such things would be considered shocking, perhaps career-ending, for today's politicians, but in a country that never quite fell out of love with the temperance movement, how could it be otherwise?


> What's really scary about these recent developments is that we're losing the ability to critically analyze the ideas and arguments that are being used to influence people.

Who do you mean by "we"? I'm pretty sure I still can analyze arguments.

OTOH, that's what I'd say if I lost the ability too. Oh noes. We are all doomed now.

> exist completely outside the normal rules for fact checking or veracity

Could I get a copy of these rules? Or, even better, could somehow major media outlets each get a copy? Because I am under distinct impression that most of them somehow missed the memo about these rules existing.


> outside the normal rules for fact checking or veracity

When those "normal rules" are (or are perceived as being) enforced by political partisans, no wonder people get rebellious against them.


I find it amazing how people can stay in denial about the Brexit vote: that it happened, and that people in Britain actually disliked EU enough to want to get out of it. That what people voted for is not their will.

I'm in the remaining EU, if I'd had a vote in the British referendum, I'd have voted for Remain. But the increasingly paranoid conspiracy theories about shadowy conspiracies makes me more and more disgusted with the EU status quo.

New emperor-wannabes come up with 50 billion or 100 billion or 200 billion that Britain should pay to the union. Looks like that the more absurd numbers you can come up with to punish Britain for insulting the honor of EU institutions, the better.

Get real: such payments are not going to happen. You're coming up with a "favoured trade partner" or whatever status with Uganda; you'll be able to do that with Britain as well. The British isles aren't floating away to the Atlantic, and the countries will need to continue trading.

EU is not working very well. The leader of the Commission is a drunkard. Institutions are grabbing power that I and very many others want to belong to national governments. The union wants to expand to new countries and deepen to a federal state at the same time. Very many people want free trade, but otherwise want to retain national sovereignty. Accept that, stop blaming Trump and shadowy conspiracies.


200 billion is most probably too high, but dozens of billons? Easily. The UK has committed themselves to paying this, they don't get to withhold the money now.

Those sums aren't some arbitrarily thought up "exit fees", it's regular funding that has been decided on and committed to years ago.

If the UK wanted to avoid that they should have exited somewhere in the future, outside of the current budgetary periods.


Dozens of billions I agree with. But isn't £12 billion just the accepted EU membership cost after rebates that we continue to pay while we negotiate our leaving the EU? This 'Brexit divorce' bill of €100 billion (£84 billion) confuses me. As far as I understand this is to cover commitment costs to the year 2020. £84 billion over that period is £24 billion yes? How does this square with the £12 billion annual cost of EU membership after rebates? Does this then mean that the £24 billion a year Brexit divorce bill consists of the 'known' £12 billion membership commitments and then £12 billion 'hidden' costs or is it the £12 billion known membership fee plus hidden costs of a £24 billion divorce bill? If it is indeed a punitive financial slap for leaving, does this not make the inherent attitudes of the EU powers that be somewhat akin to a cult like Scientology?


Those sums aren't some arbitrarily thought up "exit fees", it's regular funding that has been decided on and committed to years ago

Oh but they are, because they ignore the things that the UK has already paid for! We could for example calculate exactly how many miles of Ireland's EU-funded road building projects are actually "owned" by the UK based on our contribution. Should we be entitled to charge Ireland tolls for those sections of roads too?



The legality is irrelevant.

If Britain refuses to pay what the rEU decides is fair, it will have a very poor position for the trade negotiations which follow.

(I'm not paying to read the Telegraph, but "admit" in the headline is loaded language, and intentionally missing the point.)


No, Britain will have a very poor position in the negotiations that follow regardless. That's why the E.U. is insisting on the payments and citizen's rights issues being resolved first: they want a British commitment to items the E.U. cares about without having to make any concessions. If you think the E.U. will go back and renegotiate, or take British payments into account at later stages of negotiation, you're as delusional as May.

I hate to admit it, but May and Davis should absolutely refuse to play ball. They should agree to terms they think are fair here, and if the E.U. doesn't go along, prepare for a really hard brexit. Which of course means that they'll capitulate.


Can you clarify what this poor trade negotiation position is?

Worst case, we go to WTO tariffs. The effect of that in theory is that EU imports to the UK will reduce, as they become more expensive relative to the same goods from non-EU countries (note that our tariffs to non-EU countries will reduce post Brexit).

UK exports to the EU will also reduce for the same reason. However, given that we're a net importer it should be clear who is in the worst position.

If the UK can sign a couple of decent trade deals with large economies like India, USA, China then we won't be worried about the EU trade at all.


Can they sign those trade deals? When? In ten to twelve years?

The UK doesn't even have the bureaucracy anymore, the capable negotiators to conduct more than a few smaller or maybe one big trade deal.

The deals between the EU and Switzerland took more than a decade. And Switzerland didn't poison the atmosphere.

Additionally, the US aren't in a big hurry. Trump said otherwise while he was campaigning, but now he has already made clear tzhat a trade deal with the EU is a priority and the UK will have to wait (after Merkel had to tell him ten times that Germany cannot and will not negotiate a separate trade deal with the US).

I wish the UK the best, but I am very much in favor of us playing hardball. It's fascinating to watch the UK's non-strategy, a bit like a bit car crash. You have guilty feelings about stopping and staring, but you just cannot help it.


You don't actually need a trade deal with a country to trade successfully with them (hopefully I don't need to give examples of this).

I think you overestimate how long it takes to sign a unilateral trade deal when the parties want to make it happen. The reason the EU trade deals take so long is that 28 countries have to agree on the EU side (which will indeed be a problem for Brexit, but hardly the UK's fault).

Non strategy? As previously stated, we have a net trade deficit with the EU and are the EU's biggest export destination. Do you really think BMW group etc are going to want to stop selling cars to the UK?

Also as previously pointed out any import/export detriment to the UK from increased tariffs will be offset by the corresponding tariff reduction when trading with the rest of the world. That's not the case for the EU.

That's without considering the money we'll save on contributing to the EU budgets.


> prepare for a really hard brexit. Which of course means that they'll capitulate.

Ah, the "throw your steering wheel out the window" strategy in "chicken". Greece tried this. It didn't work.

What sort of "capitulation" do you expect? The EU have already said that any deal cannot be allowed to be better than EU membership (which is kind of obvious). Would "hard Brexit" include deporting the 3m EU nationals in the UK? How do you expect that to work out?


The UK is not Greece - it is, still, one of the most advanced and powerful countries in the world, of global importance culturally, economically, scientifically, militarily, and in myriad other ways. For its own sake the EU better hope the UK does not go tits up.


> the EU better hope the UK does not go tits up

Well, so do we all, so why are we doing this Brexit thing again?

Many of the really bad potential outcomes are truly within British control, such as refusing to guarantee residency to current EU residents.


>Many of the really bad potential outcomes are truly within British control, such as refusing to guarantee residency to current EU residents.

Hasn't the British leadership been saying all the time that they want a mutual agreement to guarantee residency? Of course they cannot give a unilateral guarantee, such an agreement is needed. It's the EU that's acting stupid here.

It's absolutely clear that a deal between EU and Britain will involve mutual agreement to allow current resident to stay, both ways. Handling future residencies may then be different.

I trust this so much that I'll support my kid to start in a university in UK this fall, and the Brexit outcome will likely be seen during his studies. I'm certain that his studies won't be interrupted because of residency issues.


Of course the UK could give a unilateral guarantee. Why shouldn't they be able to?

The EU has already offered an agreement to May, but she refused -- it guaranteed more rights (existing rights) than she wanted.

It's also not at all clear who will be able to stay. Students? Pensioners? Unemployed people? Family members? Seasonal workers?

My colleague's daughter will be studying elsewhere this autumn. She was interested in a British university, but her parents didn't want the risk of international fees in the future.


A very leading question on your part there! Obviously the UK doing well outside the EU is Brussels' worst nightmare, but unless you have a crystal ball I don't think anything can be assumed either way at this point.


> the UK doing well outside the EU is Brussels' worst nightmare

So .. how, specifically, plausibly, is this going to work? What would be the main industries involved here? To whom are we going to export that we don't currently? Does this extra-EU UK include Northern Ireland? Scotland What does the border with the Republic of Ireland look like? What happens to the EU nationals already here? What happens to the British nationals in the EU?

I'm not asking for a crystal ball, I'm asking for a plan, which has been conspicuously missing. It really ought to be in the Conservative manifesto, but isn't yet.


Economists have been saying for years that the UK economy is too heavily weighted towards finance. We now have an opportunity to resolve that. On the question of what our main industries should be - how is the UK unique in facing this dilemma?

Plenty of countries seem to find other countries to export to without being in the EU.

I would expect NI to remain in the UK for a while yet. Given that we managed to bring a terrible hundreds of years long conflict to peace, surely we have the capacity to find a solution to this issue also.

If Scotland chooses independence I wish them good luck. I think it will be a shame, but Scotland is beautiful and I will still visit, and I hope Scots will still feel welcome in whatever remains of the UK. I don't understand why the break up of the UK should be thought of as so terrifying. It's not like Hadrian's wall would be going back up.

I'd expect some kind of arrangement to be reached on expats because forced repatriation would be terrible PR on both sides. That said, the EU has more to lose on this issue as there are far more EU citizens in the UK than the reverse, and these EU citizens in the UK are mainly of working age, and the EU cannot provide enough employment as it is (hence these EU citizens coming to the UK for work).

I agree it would have been better for the government to have a plan. There was a considerable degree of complacency that there would be a victory for Remain. Clearly there are many issues to be resolved, but I think it's a little premature to write off the UK.


> Economists have been saying for years that the UK economy is too heavily weighted towards finance. We now have an opportunity to resolve that.

But the cause of this issue is not due to being a member of the EU; other member states have more balanced economies. Can you explain what has prevented successive UK governments from addressing this imbalance, yet will now be resolved by Brexit?


What level of detail should this plan contain? Too much detail and you give away our negotiating position and tie the negotiators hands; too little and people will complain about lack of detail. Would you accept a plan which comes with the caveat that compromise and negotiation means that none of the plan may work out the way it is described? What about a plan that changes on a weekly basis due to circumstances and negotiation?

I don't believe it is possible to provide a plan that will satisfy people who want to remain in the EU, and I believe that people who want to remain in the EU and are asking for a plan know this well.

You're not going to get the plan you want. A vague overview of goals is the best you can hope for, and exactly what you've been given.




it is politically impossible to pay a bill of that scale when the UK has paid in for 40 years

the prime minister would be out within hours and would be replaced by someone who would refuse to pay it


Those sums aren't some arbitrarily thought up "exit fees"

They are, actually:

1) The number being cited keeps changing (upwards)

2) When asked how they calculated those figures, and what the legal basis was, the Commission said it wasn't going to tell you.

There is a useful analysis of what's going on here:

https://www.cer.org.uk/sites/default/files/pb_barker_brexit_...


Exactly. "Trump and his billionaire friends bought the Brexit vote", even before Trump became president. This is just typical leftst rethoric of not accepting defeat. The UK (67% of the people, not the government) voted to be a part of the CE, not the EU. Then the EU happened, the Euro, the centralization of power and now Germany runs the show, unilaterally imposes austerity on other states (Greece, Cyprus, Italy), invites in 2+M refugees and then imposes migrant quotas on everyone.

The EU president is taking a rough stance with the UK to make an example out of it.


"people in Britain actually disliked EU enough to want to get out of it"

The people of Britain where split 52% - 48%. Hardly a clear mandate politicians make it to be.


Note that the split was between classes, a term that has been anathema in western politics since the 80s or so.

Present and former industrial workers basically all voted leave, while knowledge workers and finance voted remain.

What is telling is how the former class' way of life was ravaged first by thatcher's union busting, and then by management (under pressure from finance) either moving production abroad, or shipping cheap workers in.

Knowledge workers, particularly the kind that is frequenting this very site, have a much easier time moving around as the needs or desires require. Especially as the market segment prefer younger employees, unlikely to be "burdened" by family and such.


> Present and former industrial workers basically all voted leave, while knowledge workers and finance voted remain.

Do you have a source for that claim?

According to The Australian:

"Leave was backed by almost two-thirds of those considered “working class and non-workers”, meaning skilled manual workers through to those with lower grade jobs, pensioners or welfare dependants."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/brexit-who-vot...


'shipping cheap workers in'.. and from where did these workers come? The EU perhaps?


You omitted the young Vs old divide.


Hence the general election.


Don't think it is "hence". Whether to exit the EU or not is not up for vote.


Yes, it is. The commission have said article 50 is reversible, and intermediate arrangements can be indefinite. One party is campaigning for another referendum. And so on.

Your original comment was about mandate; that is what I will be voting for.


" krona 2 minutes ago [-]

Yes, it is. The commission have said article 50 is reversible, and intermediate arrangements can be indefinite. One party is campaigning for another referendum. And so on. Your original comment was about mandate; that is what I will be voting for."

I have no problem with that.


I just wanted to say that I agree with you and I find your point perfectly respectable, and I have no idea why you get downvoted.


On a related tangent, what reasons are there not to publicize votes and voters in discussion fora?

I think it would be very interesting to be able to identify "voting blocks" and voting patterns on HN. I'm not saying HN should implement that, but it could make for an interesting experimental feature for forum software.


> The British isles aren't floating away to the Atlantic, and the countries will need to continue trading.

Europe has been bluntly honest about this. They've said that the UK leaving the single market will hurt them, but they're bigger than the UK and the UK will hurt more. They've also pointed out that they can't give the UK a soft landing, as they need to show that leaving the EU is not without consequences; there's a few states thinking of departing, and if departing is painless, why wouldn't they?

Remember that the EU isn't just about the fat cats in Brussels. It's also about bringing the people together. Europe has historically been the most divisive and warlike continent, with neighbours at each others' throats since records began. You only need to go back to the 90s to see a genocide between europeans who looked the same as each other, and it's within living memory that Europe gave us the worst war of all time and the Holocaust. But 'bendy bananas' is worth it, right?


> They've also pointed out that they can't give the UK a soft landing, as they need to show that leaving the EU is not without consequences; there's a few states thinking of departing, and if departing is painless, why wouldn't they?

You've just described an abusive relationship. The EU should make people want to be in it, not afraid of leaving it. Are other EU member states OK with being bullied and threatened in this manner?

"Remember that the EU isn't just about the fat cats in Brussels. It's also about bringing the people together. Europe has historically been the most divisive and warlike continent, with neighbours at each others' throats since records began..."

The creation of the EU may or may not have helped to bring peace in the beginning, but there's no reason to think it has anything to do with maintaining peace today. We have the UN, NATO, and the unimaginable destructive power of modern weaponary keeping the peace between nations in Europe today. Heck, even the "World shrinking" power of the Internet probably plays a bigger part these days.


The same argument could be used for keeping Silesia inside Poland or Catalonia inside Spain - surely you want them to want to stay,not keep them by force, right? But both of those regions(and I am sure there are others like it around the globe) have their own groups of people who are unhappy to be part of a larger country and have aggressive campaigns to leave.

In an ideal world, I would like all EU countries to merge into one Federal Republic, like US, where UK trying to leave would be no less ridiculous than Silesia trying to leave Poland or Oregon trying to leave US. Yes, they all can - but it doesn't make the idea any less stupid.


..Silesia inside Poland [..]But both of those regions(and I am sure there are others like it around the globe) have their own groups of people who are unhappy to be part of a larger country and have aggressive campaigns to leave.

You are imagining things - there's no real separatist movement in Silesia, those who campaign for "independence", are just doing it as a practical joke, the same way some people in US declare their religion as "Jedi" and have some meet-ups, local fan groups, etc. Plus, there's only few hundred, maybe a thousand of them.

Please, do not give HN community the wrong impression that they are a real thing.


I'm really confused here. Maybe the community that would like Silesia to be independent is small, but it's real. The one that wants independence of Catalonia certainly is very real.

I mean, what's your main argument here, I feel like you haven't even addressed my main point?


My main point was that I'm sick and tired with the amount of FUD about Poland in the West, so I wanted to point out the false analogies.

Silesia is nothing like Catalonia - I know that because I live there (Silesia, I mean). There's no real support for the separatists ideas, because at the end of the day Silesians are not really that different from Poles - except maybe that they talk with slight accent and have a dozen or two of words borrowed from German. The concept of them demanding autonomy is as alien to me as the Switzerland demanding access to the Atlantic Ocean coast :)

EDIT: to be clear, I have nothing against granting them autonomy. In fact I think that getting rid of Silesia would solve most of Poland's economic problems :)


And the world is quite small and I'm from Silesia as well.

I never said their demands weren't ridiculous, but they do exist. I was expressing a view that countries wanting to leave EU should be seen with the same ridicule as Silesia wanting to leave Poland(as small and insignificant that number of people is). In an ideal world at least.


Self determination is stupid?


What do you mean by that?


It sounded like you said that people choosing to govern themselves is stupid. Like the mere concept of people wanting to be governed by people who at least speak the same language as themselves is ridiculous.


As I understand it (American here), it's not only about preventing member countries from leaving the EU. It's also about stifling separatism within those countries. If Britain can leave the EU without painful trade restrictions, then regions like Catalonia may find less convincing the argument that they must remain part of Spain in order to enjoy the benefits of the EU.


What about stifling separatism as an effect if the refugee crisis that Bruxelles was unable to manage, which prompted leaders like Orban to take matters into their own hands?


"The creation of the EU may or may not have helped to bring peace in the beginning"

May or may not? Care to point out the last war between EU members?


Did you not get as far as the sentence immediately following the one you quoted? I listed a bunch of likely reasons for there being no War between EU countries.

Just because the EU happened to exist during a period of peace, does not mean it is the reason for it. There was a little thing called World War 2 that may also have played a part.


Care to point out the last war between two first world democratic countries?


Given that 'first world' means 'US and its allies', that's clearly a loaded question. There was no war between second-world communist countries either.

If you take out the 'first world' bit, then yes, there's been plenty of war between democracies, including World War I: http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/demowar.htm


"First world" nowadays effectively includes much of the original "Third world" (such as Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, France, Yugoslavia or Mexico ).


How many of those communist countries were democracies though?

I think my point stands, it's pretty rare for democracies to go to war. If you take the example of WW1, I doubt many people would consider Germany to have been a democracy in our modern understanding of the word.

Anyway where's your evidence that the EU somehow prevents war?

There's nothing to stop the EU going to war with someone else (when they get a military) for starters.


If EU needs to scare its members to show how badly a leaving member would be treated, it's no longer a union of consenting, democratic members. It's not the union that I voted to join, a union that works for the benefit of member countries under guidance of their respective governments for free trade and co-operation; someone started to build an empire and is now mightily pissed off as some people don't want to be in an empire but just have a free trade union of independent countries.


This is naive. Divorces are designed to be painful and marriage was literally a union of people who wanted to be together.


"They've also pointed out that they can't give the UK a soft landing, as they need to show that leaving the EU is not without consequences; there's a few states thinking of departing, and if departing is painless, why wouldn't they?"

That says something truly horrible about the EU as an institution - that, by the admission of its leaders, what they think will continue to hold it together in the future is threats and intimidation.

Presumably this is because they intend to enact more Weimar-style tactics like they did to Greece and Cyprus and they think that the consequent impetus to leave across the EU will only strengthen.

The fact that they've been clear, up front and honest about this and May is in denial about it doesn't make it any less reprehensible.


The threat isn't one of invasion or punitive payments, it's simply "if you leave, we're not going to give you preferential treatment in trade or politics". It's kind've self-evident - if you choose to leave the union, why should you still get to play with their toys? If a US state seceded from the union (not that it can), the US wouldn't give it sweetheart deals.

If you choose to go it alone, then why shouldn't the union say 'business is business', and do the standard thing in business: hardball. Use your size to squeeze the best possible deal for yourself. The UK 'wanted' out, and that's what 'out' gets you.


>a few states thinking of departing, and if departing is painless, why wouldn't they?

That sounds awfully... federalist. If that's the best reasoning they can give for staying, then better to leave.


The stick is the only thing left if you throw away the carrot.


I think it would be way easier to devolve into an authoritarian government when there's no one to tell you to slow down and rethink it.

There's already plenty of Nazis in Britain. "Britannia rules", "Destroy the fascist/socialist/capitalist EU" (yeah, make up your mind please), "kick out the foreigners".

Remove the EU oversight and they can do whatever they want.


are there really that many Nazis in Britain? Sure, the BNP are pretty fascist, but they're such a minority party as to be almost completely irrelevant. Being a nationalist, disliking the EU or being anti-immigration are not traits that make someone a Nazi, and overusing the term diminishes quite how horrific the Nazis were and makes room for actual neo-Nazis to think they are more commonplace than they are, bolstering their confidence.

If you want to criticise people for these traits then do so, but using "Nazi" as a snarl word does nothing to back up your point. If you are arguing that there are many actual Nazis in the UK, I'm fairly skeptical but open to believing you if you have the data to back up your position.


I don't know their actual numbers. Yeah, probably should've said Nationalists, but I wanted to accentuate what the worst case scenario happened. Unlike other countries with nationalism on the rise, the UK can actually do a lot of damage (including to itself).


I don't think nationalism is really tied to Nazism fundamentally. Nazis were very ethnically focused where civic nationalism really isn't - it's about valuing your own country and it's history, and wanting to protect its values. It's basically a synonym with patriotism. It's a big leap to go from nationalism to Nazism.


> It's a big leap to go from nationalism to Nazism.

No, it's not. Just look at what happened to the AfD in Germany - first they were just euro-critical nationalists, and not even three years later they have open holocaust denials in the front row (http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/politik/afd-politiker-designi...).

Add to this the countless other antisemites, supporters of right-wing terrorists like PEGIDA - Petr Bystron, leader of AfD Bayern, calls for the AfD being a "shield" for Pegida and Identitäre Bewegung, while Heinz Meyer, leader of Pegida München, is under suspicion of founding a terrorist group - the road from nationalism to outright nazism and terrorism is VERY short.


I think Germany is a bit of a special case here, for obvious reasons. Consider that the Republican party in the US is nationalistic, but nothing like the Nazis. The conservative party in the UK is nationalistic (queen and country and all that), but isn't Nazi-like.


> Consider that the Republican party in the US is nationalistic, but nothing like the Nazis

Would you bet on this still being the case in four years? With Bannon (of Breitbart "fame") and friends in the government, plus all the open xenophobia and what I can only summarize as "politics for old white men"... the Republicans have always been right-wing but after 8 years of opposing Obama (including the rise of the Tea Party) they've went very far to the right already.

For what it's worth, some of the most vocal Trump supporter base (especially in the Internet, /pol etc.) are outright Nazis. And no, I don't consider smearing swastikas as "for the lulz" but as open worshipping of Nazism instead.


yes, I would bet on this being the case in four years. Bannon (and Breitbart in general) are not Nazis, Trump received a larger share of the AA and hispanic vote than Romney (and doesn't appear to me to be a racist, despite near-constant insistence from journalists that he is), and isn't the Tea Party about libertarianism?

I wouldn't take anything that comes out of 4chan seriously, as they're known for intentionally riding the line of Poe's law. In the same way that I assume /r9k/ isn't full of obese autistic children who abuse their mothers, I assume /pol/ isn't full of fervent Nazis who hate Jews.


> I wouldn't take anything that comes out of 4chan seriously, as they're known for intentionally riding the line of Poe's law.

Well, you don't take 4chan seriously... but unfortunately e.g. police tends to do so, just look at the countless swattings. Or the media, look at the Macron fake leaks or the massive hate campaigns which now mostly originate on 4chan since reddit has banned doxxing outright or dedicated hate places like fatpeoplehate.

> and doesn't appear to me to be a racist, despite near-constant insistence from journalists that he is

Uh. Have you never watched a Trump speech, or the executive orders from Trump and their fallout?! Donald Trump is at the very least an open racist, with some of his actions leaning towards Nazism.

> Trump received a larger share of the AA and hispanic vote than Romney

No one forbids people to vote for Trump even if the consequences will directly harm themselves. In fact, anyone who voted for Trump except the rich could have known that he/she voted for a racist who will do anything to harm them if it suits his way.

> Bannon (and Breitbart in general) are not Nazis

Breitbart is a frontrunner of pushing antisemitic and xenophobic propaganda. You'll find interesting parallels between Breitbart pieces and the realities of Nazi Germany. Trust us Germans on this one, it appears that due to our history we spot the parallels easier than others.

Also, Nazism did not start with Auschwitz, it began with xenophobia, us-vs-them (i.e. us-vs-jews) divisive rhetoric (which is now rebranded as us-vs-muslims/us-vs-"illegal immigrants"), propaganda (as "fake news" were called at the time), anti-"communist" fights, plus a healthy dose of imperialism ("Lebensraumerweiterung"). The only thing which the Trump presidency and his supporters lack currently is the aggressive imperialism, but he's doing some "progress" in that area.


>I would bet on this being the case in four years

Sure, I doubt the Republican party will be aligned with Nazism or anything like it, but there are new elements (from Trump's side) that want to push it in that direction. I don't think they'll succeed in the long-term, but the risk is there.

>Bannon (and Breitbart in general) are not Nazis

Nazism/National Socialism refers to a specific German ideology. Of course neither Brannon nor Breitbart are aligned with Nazism. But that's obviously not what the parent post was trying to directly say.

Breitbart and Bannonism promotes a very ethno-nationalistic agenda (among other agendas), with elements of various philosophies from the past century. It'd be very ignorant to just call them all Nazis or fascists, but also ignorant to say that because they're not Nazis they don't share any of their views.

Breitbart and Bannon are:

* Very anti-immigration from countries that don't have a high percentage of whites (see Bannon's comments on Asian immigrants, and his and Breitbart's comments on Muslim immigration, Mexican immigration, etc.)

* Extremely pro-Christianity and anti-Islam

* Pro-Zionist, as part of what Bannon sees as some sort of global "war" between Judeo-Christianity and Islam

* Anti-American (or non-conservative) Jews (see Bannon's alleged comments to his wife about not wanting his kids in a school with so many Jews and "too many Hanukkah books", and far-right nationalist Jews like David Horowitz posting articles attacking American Jews like Bill Kristol for not being sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-Trump)

What do you call an ideology like that? No it's not Nazism, but it's ultra-nationalistic and sees a large portion of the world population as essentially being lesser than the populations of predominantly-white countries. Bannon clearly wants America to have some degree of ethnic purity, which is similar to far-right ideologies like the Nazis'.

To be clear, that oversimplifies Bannon's beliefs, as he certainly has a strong economic-nationalist, protectionist, and authoritarian ideology as well. But between almost anyone else who's held so much power in the White House, he's probably the closest we've had so far to a Nazi, even if he absolutely is not a Nazi.

>I wouldn't take anything that comes out of 4chan seriously, as they're known for intentionally riding the line of Poe's law. In the same way that I assume /r9k/ isn't full of obese autistic children who abuse their mothers, I assume /pol/ isn't full of fervent Nazis who hate Jews.

This is an argument Milo and others use a lot. That it's all just ironic or post-post-post-post ironic trolling and most of them don't really believe the shitposts they make. And /pol/ (and /new/ and /b/) did start out that way, with an ironic edginess rather than genuine contempt towards non-whites and women, but starting around 2011 or 2012, /pol/ was slowly co-opted by full-on Stormfronters.

Look at /pol/ today and tell me that they don't have a very sizeable % of posters who genuinely admire Hitler and want a Nazi-like regime.

As for /r9k/, that's more of a mixed bag with a lot more trolling and baiting, but I think you'd agree at least 40% of the regular posters there genuinely detest "roasties".


No the repubs are not nationalistic. If they were they would not have been so eager to sell themselves to the Russians.


> I don't think nationalism is really tied to Nazism fundamentally.

Nationalism is inherently tied to xenophobic forms of right-authoritarianism, though not necessarily the particular forms called out as Nazism or Fascism.

> It's basically a synonym with patriotism

No, it's not, though nationalists equate the two.


There's always a scapegoat. Whether it's the jews, the foreigners, the oppressive union, the former Nazis, nationalists will find something to blame but their own people or country.


" It's a big leap to go from nationalism to Nazism."

No it's not. Nazi comes from German: Nazionalsozialismus. National socialism. Propaganda peeps love pulling that one.


Do you think it's also a small leap from socialism to Nazism? FYI, Hitler took over the Nazi party and reshaped it in his image. Nationalism is a right wing ideology where national socialism is "third position" which is a rejection of both left and right politics.


How are we to know which words you mean, and which words you don't mean?


I have no sympathy with your argument, which boils down to the "British cannot be trusted to boot out a government they don't approve of", which begs a few questions. EU oversight is overrated (current Hungarian and Polish governments kept in check?) and lacks its own checks and balances (EU parliament is a uniquely weak affair).


If anything EU rules are making the situation worse.

And it would not surprise me if elements within EU welcome the rise of these groups, because as it was said about Mussolini "at least he made the trains run on time".

Damn it, just watch the events in Greece a year or so ago.


This argument for increased centralization has become very tiring, on both sides of the Atlantic.

"If you let people form smaller communities, some of those smaller communities might contain NAZIS!!!! Won't somebody think of the children?????"


The government is thinking about the children. They will know exactly what people think of the children.


If anything, EU rules and regulations is what is giving those groups fuel to their fire.

Leaving EU, thus allowing a debate about these issues without the EU regulations acting as a trump card, may well de-fang them.


So far, it looks like they'll continue to blame the EU long after the exit. Oh, they're fucking up our trade deals because US/China has preference for larger trading partners, oh, they're a protection racket that doesn't allow us to talk to members separately, oh France/ROI doesn't give a shit about illegals crossing the border, oh Germany is forcing the EU to buy from them instead of the UK (not because the quality is better and taxes are lower, they're just the 4th Reich obviously)...


Psyops.

I occasionally delve into the CIA CREST database and one day stumbled on old articles with dollar values [0] Russian Intelligence services dumped on psyops against their adversaries at the height of the cold war. In 1980 for instance this was reported:

    "According to the CIA's reckoning, the Soviets in 1979 
     poured at least 200 million dollars (I assume US) into 
     a variety of campaigns - using propaganda and covert 
     operations - to isolate the US from it's friends." [1]
Nothing has changed.

" Palantir is practically now a trigger word. The data-mining firm has contracts with governments all over the world – including GCHQ and the NSA. It’s owned by ^Peter Thiel^, "

Let that sink in. How long till this article is flagged?

Reference:

[0] Values in CIA reports are often redacted because they are an indication of resources.

[1] CREST (Psyops Russia 1980): DEPARTMENT OF DIRTY TRICKS, SOVIET STYLE Document Release Date: January 13, 2011

Summary: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/document/cia-rdp90-0...

Document: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP90-00552...


So this raises a very important question: what about the CIA psyops? Is this kind of thing only "not OK" when certain parties are doing it, or is it one of those things that just makes the world worse and should be banned by treaty like biological weapons?

After all, the west regards "regime change" as its prerogative; what if the rest of the world wants to "regime change" us?

Edit: yes it's whataboutism, but I think addressing that has to be part of any good solution. Otherwise the only solutions are bad ones: every country has to build a Great Firewall to stop its domestic politics being destroyed by foreign intelligence agencies.

Also, note in the article that seemingly everyone is fine with CA doing this kind of stuff to other countries. This is like shipping thousands of tons of guns to Mexico and then being surprised when some of them turn up on US streets.


"what about the CIA psyops?"

The CIA psyops question is a good one. The CIA was setup by Eisenhower to collate intelligence not engage in operations. Psyops is operations. The question of CIA dabbling in operations was resolved in '63. Post '63, there was no real threat to the CIA charter.

I'll double up, "why has the CIA got an Airforce?" [0] T

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Targeted_killing#Use_by_the_Un...


This is a worrying story. And not only because it highlights the possible role that outside factors might have played in swinging key elections to the right.

It's worrying because it runs a great risk in making those living in the London bubble (myself very much included) of thinking Brexit was caused by malignant forces rather than poverty and lack of opportunity. The latter being a hard problem to solve, the former something we can uncomfortably accept.

Brexit was a democratic vote. It was about as democratic as you can get with no possibility for gerrymandering, first past the post or any other sort of voter suppression.

It's a damn shame it happened, but when those of us living comfortable college educated lives choose to endorse policies which allow vast swathes of less skilled labour to be automated and hammered down with zero hour contracts, as the so called 'Brexit heart-lands' have been, then what do we expect but to see a resurgence of fear and the consequent nationalism that arises?

Certainly Cambridge Analytica might have some effect on marginal elections like Brexit or Trump/Clinton, but at the end of the day we've built a system which provides no safety net or training for those whose jobs we're replacing with automation and over efficiencies of scheduling and the introduction of the 'gig' economy.

I think the roots behind these problems are your age old problems of increasing inequality, poor educational opportunities and gutted job markets in northern towns. We've basically shafted a whole generation of folk who unsurprisingly voted for a nationalist agenda out of sheer desperation.


Direct democracy is dangerous. Major decisions, and joining /leaving EU is certainly one, should require e super-majority. Say 60% of the vote and 60% of the Parliament.

50%+1 just doesn't seem right. These are life-changing decisions and there needs to be a general consensus.


I agree.

And I think it was wrong for the UK to end up as part of the EU, as opposed to a more limited "common market", without at least one of the successive governments which signed up to additional treaties demonstrating such general consensus.

That was part of the reason why it was so easy for the "leave" side to portray the EU as a hostile unaccountable force.


Where does the "dangerous" come in?

What makes the EU government inherently better at governing and representing interests the of British people than a British government?

There is something about local democracy that some people simply don't understand. Voters can apply more pressure on locally elected officials than central officials. Ever since Thatcher's government began systematically reducing the powers of local government, central government can and has often overridden the choices of local voter, because they are not directly answerable to local voters.

If voters don't like some policies set by local politicians and officials they can organize effectively to have them changed and the officials removed. What kind of pressure can the people say Hammersmith exercise over an EU policy they don't like, assuming they know who to address, and can even bring political pressure to bear on them?


I think the "dangerous" comes in when you have morons in mass media screaming will of the people, saboteurs traitors every time somebody has the temerity to suggest that leaving the EU might not be a good idea, or that we might wish to debate whether the PM's preferred position on leaving the EU is the correct one. Attlee called referenda the "tool of dictators and demagogues", and whilst he might have been referring specifically to the tendency of such leaders to use their initial popularity to vote themselves powers to deal with more difficult times, it could apply equally to the use of the referendum result to argue that a 52-48% margin of opinions at a particular point in time means that continuing to express the views held by the latter group is somehow disreputable


Who are you calling "morons", the media companies or the people who support Brexit? This is the kind of arrogance that got Brexit to succeed and Trump to become president, the habit of liberals labelling people who disagree with them racists, populists, Islamophobes, homophobes and everything else you can think of.

If you want Trump to stay in power for 2 terms and Brexiteers to come out in greater numbers keep opining in that manner.

Democracy implies respecting the will of the majority whether you agree with them or not, regardless of how misinformed or ignorant they are, and a willingness to work them to bring about a change in their views if you are convinced about yours.

The same attitude here is the same attitude seen by EU officials who feel express openly that the expect the leaders of their member states should put their (the EU leaders) views ahead of their electorates, and you feel that because of some real or imagined benefits of their rule the rest of the public ought to put up with that arrogance.


> Democracy implies respecting the will of the majority whether you agree with them or not

Really, profoundly odd that you start going off about Trump in the same post where you write this. He didn't win the popular vote. He does not represent the will of the majority.


While just 4 percent of Trump's supporters say they would back someone else if there was a redo of the election, fully 15 percent of Clinton supporters say they would ditch her. Trump leads in a re-do of the 2016 election 43 percent to 40 percent after losing the popular vote 46-44.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/04/23/tr...


It is the electoral college vote that determines the Presidency and they vote according in accord with their state constituents choices. That is how the American presidency works, and if I am right, they are still happy with it.


Are those goalposts heavy?


I'm applying the term "morons" members of the political class and their media mouthpieces who scream about the 16million people who disagreed with them (or indeed, anybody that might suggest alternative forms of Brexit to that proposed by the government) being "saboteurs" who must be "crushed". Democracy implies that people whose political objective is shared by the majority aren't supposed to be quite so paranoid and aggressive about people continuing to disagree with them.

Your post started with an question about what I had meant and then (obviously considering what I'd actually meant unimportant) immediately descended into a verbal assault on your entirely imaginary concept of what my worldview might be, culminating in asserting my "attitude" of objecting to sections of the press using violent rhetoric to try to silence people who don't share their worldview is akin to the position of European Commission members. And you're accusing me of arrogance? Seriously?


Taking the example of Hammersmith, at the previous election 50% of people didn't vote for the MP that won.

What can they do, when they disagree with a local decision? What about a national decision?

The EU government is at least more representative of its electorate. For the EU level (London constituency), the Hammersmith resident is represented by four Tory, two Labour, one UKIP and one Green MEP. With that range, it's more likely someone will find time for their opinion.

The solution is therefore to fix the electoral system in the UK, meanwhile I'm glad the EU government exists above it. We could also start electing the House of Lords.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammersmith_(UK_Parliament_con...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_(European_Parliament_co...


If you want an elected House of Lords, why would you be in favour of the EU? In the EU the elected house is a ratifying chamber only (akin to the Lords). You're glad to be ruled by the undemocratic executive EU but not the undemocratic ratifying Lords?


the problem with the supermajority argument is that there was no such vote to join the EU in the first place. You can't apply stringent rules in only one direction of a decision, or you're weighting the default to the position you personally prefer. At the end of the day, the vote could be repositioned from "remain/leave" to "be in the EU/not be in the EU" to make it an A/B rather than a yes/no decision, at which point the argument about direct democracy being unfair becomes clearly biased.


>the problem with the supermajority argument is that there was no such vote to join the EU in the first place

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Commun...

>The electorate expressed significant support for EC membership, with 67% in favour on a national turnout of 64%.

Am I missing something?


EC membership, not EU - from the perspective of the British, they voted for membership of a trading block, which then morphed into a new megastate wannabe without any vote taking place to legitimise it.


there's a significant difference between the EU and the EC. For one, the EC vote was held under the promise that it would not become a political union. It was also sold as a trading zone, rather than a super-bloc. There wasn't a vote to join the EU as it currently exists, and the EU and the EC might as well be chalk and cheese.


> the vote could be repositioned from "remain/leave" to "be in the EU/not be in the EU" to make it an A/B rather than a yes/no decision, at which point the argument about direct democracy being unfair becomes clearly biased.

Apologies if you're from the UK (or otherwise aware) but there was huge debate about 'the question' ahead of the referendum. Like you (it sounds) I was surprised they decided on one that seems so obviously biased. I think the 'to be or not to be' variant was supposedly going to be 'confusing to voters'.


yeah I am from the UK, and this is the exact debate I'm referencing - in fact, one of the questions that I asked a few people that got them to really think about their position was "if this was a vote to join the EU, would your position still be the same?" - this question is also obviously biased in the other direction, but it gets people to think outside of the default position of loss aversion, which has psychological biases to support it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion).


There shouldn't have been a direct democracy vote to join as much as there shouldn't have been one to leave.

The point of representative democracy is supposed to be one where ignorant citizens can select the best - not necessarily most ideologically aligned or politically motivated - from amongst themselves to make these kinds of decisions on their behalf as their job.

Obviously we are far from that ideal (very, very far), but it doesn't change how terrible referendum votes are anywhere in the world. You just get emotionally charged shit-flinging that devolves complex issues into tribal warfare. The world is too complicated to boil the issues of millions into yes and no bubble quizzes, that is why we are supposed to have our best handle it.


I used to agree; Brexit made me think about it a lot.

I now think a bias in favour of maintaining status quo is just as arbitrary as one against the status quo - if it's so great now and everyone knows it then they'll come out in droves to keep it, right?


   Direct democracy is dangerous.
So are all other forms of governance.

The only significant example of direct democracy in action has been Switzerland, and it's been pretty successful in comparison. Yes, n=1 is not good, but better than n=0.


California has been using a direct democracy model in various formulations for a long time and it's four times the size of Switzerland in both population and economy. The results are at best mixed (eg California has one of the lowest median incomes and weakest education systems in the US, to go with immense debt & infrastructure problems, despite vast wealth in the top 10%).


Interesting.

I'm not familiar with the Californian model. But as with direct democracy in cities and villages, California is not a country, so certain life/death decisions, like engaging in warfare, are not applicable.

Moreover, I believe that some of California's problems are a direct consequence of its spectacular success, which attracts large-scale immigration, largely from poorer countries. California has grown by > 10x in the last century. In contrast, the Swiss population expanded at a much lower pace.

Be that all as it may, by many metrics California is also a spectacular success.


>>eg California has one of the lowest median incomes and weakest education systems in the US, to go with immense debt & infrastructure problems, despite vast wealth in the top 10%

Can you provide some citations to these claims?


Still don't understand they left the EU. Especially with the latest changes they had the best deal within the EU but still they want to leave. Rebates, no euro etc. I wish we could get that...


I think we do.

We're a net contributor so the rebate point is null.

Re. the euro, is there any point in being one of only 9 countries outside the euro (bear in mind most of those 9 are new members who intend to join). What kind of say do you think the non-euro countries are going to get?


If that's going to be the criteria fine, but we'd need to kick some countries out of the EU then (e.g. Sweden) since they went in with a similarly narrow margin.


Fun fact: In both referendums on EU membership, less than half the registered voters cast votes for the winning decision.


In fact, in almost all referendums and elections, less than half of eligible voters cast their voters for the winning decision or party. That comes pretty much by nature.

Then there are elections where a majority supports the winning decision. A few are good ones, like the Falklands referendum that was mentioned in another post.

But very many are scams: Saddam Hussein's presidential referendum gave him 99.9 % support of votes in a 99.47 % turnout. Worker's Party of Korea regularly gets around 85-90 % of votes again with a 99.9 % turnout. National Socialist Party of Germany got 98.8 % of a 99 % turnout in 1936.

Finally, the point is:

"“I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.”"


I would be interested in knowing about an election in modern times (you choose what that means) in which a majority of the electorate in a British election did vote for the winning proposition.


If you count British Overseas Territories, then Falklands and Gibraltar sovereignty referendums are probably the only examples (I wouldn't be surprised to discover that no free and fair public election has ever achieved a more emphatic result than 99.8% on a 91.9% turnout managed by the Falkland islanders)


Good knowledge. Just glad I didn't offer a prize...


Why is direct Democracy dangerous?

I think not educating your population effectively is dangerous. Unfortunately the non-direct democrats have taken advantage by not educating each oncoming generation so as to more easily manipulate them.

Now we have Trump...


In Britain we have a representative democracy. That is how British democracy works. A small group of Euro-sceptics in one party were frustrated that they couldn't get Britain to leave the EU using that system so forced the PM to hold a referrendum. So they couldn't get their own way by following the rules so forced the government to change temporarily to a different kind of democracy that better suited their means. That is incredibly dangerous, yes. Direct democracy is not just calling referendums when you think populism will help your cause.


The life changing 1970s referendum to remain didn't require more than 50%+1 so I don't see how it's right that Brexiting should have.

Edit to clarify this is about the first referendum to remain, not join in the first place.


It should have required then (IMHO).


Plus there is now the potential for a great deal of purely negative disruption to the economy as a result.


There was great potential for that then as well. Joining required the UK to give up exclusive fishing rights in its own waters and put up tariffs to its Commonwealth trading partners. That the UK did so without much of a fuss is a matter of shame for the country, the trade disruption had great impact in countries that depended on the trade. The Common Agricultural Policy was cemented in to prepare for UK arrival as well, so guaranteeing transfer of wealth from UK into France, an almost direct subsidy of French agriculture. This was the basis on which Margaret Thatcher went all obstinate to get a British rebate in the early 80s.


"Documents seen by the Observer show that this was a proposal to capture citizens’ browsing history en masse, recording phone conversations and applying natural language processing to the recorded voice data to construct a national police database, complete with scores for each citizen on their propensity to commit crime.

The plan put to the minister was Minority Report. It was pre-crime. And the fact that Cambridge Analytica is now working inside the Pentagon is, I think, absolutely terrifying said David."

Steve Bannon was the former vice president of Cambridge Analytica. Terrifying is indeed the word. A little alarming too that Sophie Schmidt was swimming around these waters.


Pre-crime is very much alive and kicking. For a publicly visible example, see the multitudinous "terror convictions" in the U.K. that have involved the arrest and lengthy incarceration of people who have allegedly plotted, or have thought about beginning to plot, terrorist acts.

Less publicly, there is a rather well hidden court circuit that has been about since 2008 which specialises in these cases, specifically the ones which can't be disclosed due to "national security". I know about this from a family friend who was a high flying barrister (QC) who was asked to preside. He refused. They destroyed him in the press ("paedophile sympathiser"), Cameron went on national TV to decry him, they suicided his wife. He is only just beginning to quietly practice law again. Every time I think I'm maybe paranoid I recall this episode, and know that the truth is likely even darker than I know.

What a wonderful world we live in.


>Cameron went on national TV to decry him, they suicided his wife.

Sources for this? It seems unlikely that the Prime Minister would on TV to denounce a barrister for refusing a gig. They would just have got another barrister to do it.


I promise you he did - it wasn't to denounce him for refusing the gig, rather to denounce him as part of the retaliatory smear.

Here's a pertinent link. If you read the court transcripts, none of the things ascribed to him were said by him - it was just another fairly average day in court.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2386556/Lawyer-Rober...

Here's an equanimous piece by a barrister befuddled by what happened to him, as the subtext is all sorts of secret.

http://barristerblogger.com/2013/08/29/criticism-robert-colo...


The outrage had nothing to do with a refusal to preside over a secret hearing, as the links you provided show. Whether or not the Daily Mail article was fair is a separate issue. It may have misquoted him, but what he actually said was stil pretty bad.

>Yes, your Honour. Very much so, and she is undoubtedly it is fair to say very experienced, and one hesitates to use the word, but it is a word that has been used in other cases, I think the officer would agree that she may well be what is described as predatory in respect of her activities.

(Said of a 13 year old.)


I think madaxe_again's argument is that similar things are said every day without a frenzy being raised, pointing to some other motivation behind it.

That said, considering that he specifically chose that word, I agree that it's pretty bad, and find it hard to believe that it's a common occurrence for barristers to call 13-year-olds' actions "predatory".


In mitigation such things are pretty normal - particularly coming from the prosecution under direct questioning, which this was. You don't mince words when asked for a direct opinion by a judge.

Of course the press pieces don't address the context, as the context was and is a state secret.

Bob is a Rabbi, a youth worker, a kite festival organiser, and a stand-up bloke and father of three very well adjusted adults I've known since I became a conscious entity.


Fair enough, but in any case, the argument wasn't on whether what he said was fair or correct, or whether the reaction was appropriate, but whether the (over)reaction was because of some unrelated case.

I mean, it's not exactly uncommon for anything involving pedophilia, often even when there's no actual evidence of such, to explode in Think Of The Children hysteria, and a man in an official position calling a 13-year-old a "predator" sounds exactly the kind of thing that can trigger it.

So the question is: are barristers often referring to 13-year-old as predators, and the media just specifically picked up on this case?


The answer to that query is a pretty sound yes - mitigation looks at the precise circumstances and behaviours of surrounding that which is being sentenced over, and this is the sort of thing that is raised.


I think what people find difficult to understand is how this could be construed as mitigating. No-one can seriously think that a 13 year old girl is in a position of powerto "predate" on an adult man. What the defence really seems to be doing is trying to blame the victim by saying it was her fault for being horny rather than the perpetrator's fault for failing to exercise any self restraint.


Bob was the prosecution, responding to a query on a defence mitigation statement by the judge - honestly, if you read the transcript, the context is clear.


Surely the fact that the prosecution said it makes it worse.


The entire furore was in response to his refusal to participate - what was said was pretty normal for the variety of case being heard - mitigation prior to sentencing tends to be a rather "cards on the table" affair, and the press focus was raised solely as a result of his refusal to engage in secret courts.

That said, believe what you will - I trust a man I've known over thirty years over the tabloid press.


>The entire furore was in response to his refusal to participate

Ok, but it seems we only have your word for this? I reiterate that the normal response to a barrister not wanting to do a particular job would be to get another barrister to do it instead. (He is not in fact a QC, by the way, as the blog post you linked to notes.) The furore surrounding his comments in court seems eminently explicable given the nature of the comments, so I'm not inclined to believe that there's any more to it than that unless there's evidence to that effect.

>I trust a man I've known over thirty years over the tabloid press.

I'm not trusting the tabloid press. I'm looking at the transcript of what he said in court. If it's "normal" to describe thirteen year old girls as sexual predators in court then that is a scandal in itself -- and probably the reason the PM weighed in.


This is a textbook example on how to create a demonizing narrative with little to no facts at all.

Guilt by association, throwing in the Russians and Holocaust deniers, some evil billionaires - it has it all. Funneling foreign money into national elections is always happening - through foundations, local branches, tax location, and so on.

Absent from all of this are of cause any facts on what Cambridge Analytica is doing different than being just another programmatic ad buying firm.


The intellectual state of the moderate Left in Britain is very sad -- Labour can't win an election and the Guardian spends its ink on conspiracy tripe like this.


Indeed. I also think the writer's prose is poor - I think she was trying to write punchy copy, but doesn't have the skill to carry it off. For example: 'A weird but telling detail. Because it goes to the heart of why the story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time.'

Firstly I don't think either of above are proper sentences. Secondly use of 'one of the most' with 'profoundly unsettling' doesn't read well to me - for this to work wouldn't we have to commonly or often be in a state of being profoundly unsettled, thereby to have the collection that 'one of the most' seems to require?

These types of errors are strewn about the entire piece and diminish the authority of the writer.


It's a compelling narrative, and yes it would be easy to dismiss as being conspiracy theory.

However, it's the first time I've seen an answer to the question "who's driving Brexit" that seems realistic.

Mercer, Bannon, Thiel, et al. and their psy-ops arms - what's their involvement now in the French election. Presumably if the article's narrative is factual they're trying to get Le Pen elected to further fragment Europe? Which French campaigns have had unsolicited calls from AIQ/AIS/Cambridge Analytica?


You find it realistic.

I find it another pseudo-logicical explanation for those who can't accept the fact that most voters don't agree with them. Who are trying to justify their own moral superiority by pretending those who don't agree with them were all scammed and cheated into that believe.

Nothing personal but since we are already picking those narratives that we favor let me just pick the other extreme.


> most voters don't agree with them

Replace 'most' with 'a slender majority' if you want to retain the fig-leaf of objectivity and rationality that you seem to covet.

Politics is littered with examples of groups who were deceived into voting against their own self-interest. This isn't some kind of bizarre conspiracy - it's business as usual. It strikes me as more bizarre to pretend that democracy is some kind of idealized machine that extracts considered, rational decisions from large aggregates of people. It never was and never has been. It's simply the "least worst"[1] way of choosing our leaders.

[1] https://richardlangworth.com/worst-form-of-government


I am not here to defend Democracy or 'the system'. In fact I noticed the fallback to those fundamental critique comes always up when one's own favorite did lose. How the voting system works has been known for decades. It is the job of politicians and all those trying to shape the public opinion to convince people to vote.


> In fact I noticed the fallback to those fundamental critique comes always up when one's own favorite did lose.

Of course. We have vested interest in complaining when we 'lose' and praising the outcome when we 'win'.

But your original post seemed to be dismissive of the idea that there is anything to be worried about. Even if we agree on the existence of a major cognitive bias here - it's irrelevant to the question of whether there is a real issue that should be addressed.

The problem with a "backdoor in democracy" is similar to the problem with cryptography backdoors. You can't control who'll make use of them so everyone should be scared.


It is similar to the US campaign finance reform - if you want to spend money for your candidate you will always find a way to do it. For me it is much more surprising why so little money has been funneled into EU elections so far.


Maybe they thought they were invulnerable.


>Replace 'most' with 'a slender majority' if you want to retain the fig-leaf of objectivity and rationality that you seem to covet

Would the argument still hold water if he did ?

> Politics is littered with examples of groups who were deceived into voting against their own self-interest. This isn't some kind of bizarre conspiracy - it's business as usual. It strikes me as more bizarre to pretend that democracy is some kind of idealized machine that extracts considered, rational decisions from large aggregates of people

Tell that to the leftists in US who go around shouting that Trump lost the popular vote


> Would the argument still hold water if he did ?

Do you mean mine or his? I think his argument would lose some rhetorical force and be much less persuasive. If you mean something else then please clarify as I don't quite follow.

> Tell that to the leftists in US who go around shouting that Trump lost the popular vote

I'm not sure how the existence of that group is relevant here. Surely if anything they underscore my point from the other side of the fence?

I'm not claiming "this only happens to the side I disagree with" if that's what you're implying.


Regardless of what side you are on, the interesting part is the fact that companies like CA and their subsidiaries are increasingly being used by political organisations to persuade.

It's not new, but with Facebook etc and the masses of data that are out there, along with the technology to mine it, I think we're seeing a huge shift into how these things are run as people can be targeted on a much more macro level.


I agree. Politics has always been on the forefront of using new technology. Just look at Eisenhower's pioneering use of trains for his whistle-stop tour in 1952. And that's my problem with the article - it is just a demonizing one sided narrative with no new insights on the technology.


Who do you say is running Brexit then? In the Tory cabinet 80% (24) backed Remain including Theresa May, all Parties backed Remain except the DUP. Yet here we are the following year crashing headlong in to the hardest possible Brexit with an ex-Remainer supposedly steering the ship, destroying years of accord left and right.

Somebody coordinated the campaign, somebody established writing £350M on the side of a bus was the perfect way to win people over, knowing it was a lie.

Doesn't a foreign business contacting a supposed grass-roots campaign unsolicited look even a little suspicious to you?

Where's the link between Farage and Trump's campaigns in your version of events.


Brexit had half the prominent figures in the Conservative party, all the largest-circulation mainstream print press and guaranteed equal airtime in television media in the build up (including equal airtime for the very small fraction of left-wing politicians willing to make a case for Leave). Not to mention that figures on Remain side of the government had been making the basic thrust of Leave's arguments: numbers of immigrants are a massive problem we need to control since the turn of the century

It doesn't take shadowy foreign billionaires to figure out that promising the electorate lots of money is a vote winner

The demographics least likely to be reached by Cambridge Analytica's ad-buying campaigns were also those most likely to vote Leave.


'hardest possible Brexit' - any time the type of Brexit gets trotted out it makes me suspicious. Do you think the 52% were voting for a minor tweaking of the arrangements when they voted Leave?


I think the 52% were voting for a range of things.

Some thought that immediately after the vote passed, for example, that all non-British residents would be deported.

Others voted, expecting financial devastation, but preferring the Tory party to be in control of our destiny as a country than yielding anything to an accord of nations - as another example.

Still others voted, a large proportion it seems to stop immigration; which isn't going to happen.

Yet others voted because they'd been persuaded it would be better economically for them and their communities. But instead those communities will get less spending and, eventually, far worse conditions of employment too.

Another large proportion voted because of the promises of funding for the NHS but the Tory plan is to run it down and bring in more and more commerce until it's effectively privatised, so even if it hadn't been a lie the Tory's weren't going to follow it through.

If the voters could make their support conditional on the actual outcome then it seems like maybe 15% at most would still be supporting it.

How those who stood by the "£350M for the NHS" lie, our Foreign Secretary say, weren't committing treason I don't know ... but I digress.


Deary me. Why can't the people be driving Brexit?


That's not how Western Democracy works.


There have been a lot of speculation and finger pointing at social media platforms for influencing high-level decisions. What I'd like to ask the elders here on HN is: Wasn't this always the case? Were elections in the 70s 80s all fair and fact-based? Were not political parties using information to their advantage and for pushing their own agenda?

Because to me it seems that only the tools have changed, rest is pretty much played by the same book.


I believe the one major change has been about trust in institutions. It used to be that census, or unemployment data was, for the purposes of political discussions, assumed to be accurate.

Now, unemployment data was so-so-fake just before the election, and the-best-numbers-ever just after the elections, although they changed only marginally. This sort of bad-faith argument will lead to a complete breakdown of civil society if continued.

This may just be a symptom of polarisation, though: Republicans (and yes, it's almost exclusively Republicans, so far) can only get away with it because their voters have staked their identity on their team's success, and are willing to go to such extremes to protect it. Yes, democrats have similarly absorbed politics into their sense of identity, and it may just be luck that they ended up getting reality as their playground.


> I believe the one major change has been about trust in institutions. It used to be that census, or unemployment data was, for the purposes of political discussions, assumed to be accurate.

First question that comes to my mind is How can you tell? I assume it was even harder back then to get your hands on real data. What was stopping the political elites back then to mangle the unemployment data when needed?


There weren't that many traditional news outlets in the past, and those that publish flagrant lies tend to get a reputation for this ( not that that ever stopped some of them ). Nowadays, I barely recognise half of the sources I see material forwarded from, which allows a range of much more extreme opinions / alt facts to be shared with the world without any real requirement for self regulation ( obviously, this is a contentious point, but I do feel things are a lot worse in this regard now ).


Over in the UK, a fairly large percentage of the traditional news outlets available published flagrant lies on a regular basis and still remained extremely popular despite a reputation for the same. Like the Daily Mail, every tabloid in existence, every free paper in existence and arguably a decent percentage of local ones.

And that hasn't changed much since. I mean, the Daily Mail (if Wikipedia is accurate here) was the most popular paper in the world in 1902.

Either way, I suspect the sources the British public have access to haven't exactly gotten much worse (or better) since then.


I think it helps the liars if they get everyone else using their bullshit lingo. Why say "alt fact" when you mean "lie"? The only effect it has is to give them credibility and remove some of yours. The article does the same. I'm trying to get at the general point of not using the enemy's made up language and playing into their hands rather than any one specific use of the term. The English language has plenty of terms for lies and liars. Let's call a liar a liar and stop empowering them.


But is the scale important? The difference between a sledge hammer and a jackhammer mounted to heavy machinery are pretty astounding. Tools advancing can drastically change outcomes regardless of the objectives of old versus new tools being the same.


I'd imagine with the advent of Facebook etc it's enabled targeting on a much more macro level.


I agree...joseph atwill's book CAESAR'S MESSIAH claims that the new testament bible is propaganda from the flavian dynasty aimed at jews in order to pacify them.


Personally I think Brexit was a bad idea but I don't understand the sentiment in the article. Back when Obama was using big data (and yes, big money) to win the election he was hailed as smart and tech-savvy. Now when it's the Brexit supporters doing it democracy is coming to an end. How about instead of weakening people's support for democracy leftists instead try to win elections?


Yes, except I don't recall Obama using big data to blast people's facebook feeds with fake news citations, irrefutably wrong numbers and xenophobic clap trap.

"With great power comes great responsibility" and all that...

This is the problem with the far right (or any political extreme). They're not interested in debate or acting responsibly.

An excellent example was Le Penn's 'debate' a few days ago with Macron. It was a fucking shambles and embarrassing to watch. She had the whole of France watching - it was her time to shine and capture voters with her programme. She failed miserably because other than soundbites, there's no meat on the bone. The FN cannot withstand the sunlight and rigour of genuine, intellectually honest political debate.

They (and all other extreme parties) know this of course and so their solution is to try and debase the system itself. To convert people from reason to "gut".

Given that back drop, yes, it's a little concerning extremists are awakening to the awesome power of big data. Coupled with the delivery mechanism and reach of the internet, it's a propagandist's wet dream and potentially extremely destabilising if left unchecked.


'To convert people from reason to "gut".'

Here in the UK all discussion of migration was successfully suppressed for decades by shouts of racism from the left. Perhaps if a sensible debate on migration had been allowed, and perhaps if the EU had been willing to yield a little more than absolutely nothing around controlling migration, Brexit might have been avoided.


I'm not sure it has much to do with the EU. The UK's domestic politicians did a poor job of managing migration. Had the brains in London allocated proper resources to the North and applied some common sense approaches to where migrants were placed and in what numbers, most issues would have been resolved.

Don't forget too that around half (iirc?) of annual migrants arriving in the UK come from outside the EU...


On the hand hand, Trump supporters are claiming that Soros is -- more or less legally -- financing left wing organisations and influencing the political debate in many countries.

You know what? Both of them are right, and actually this is not a new phenomenon, rich people have been influencing democracy for a long time now.


A difference i see is that Soros is supporting organisations that are acting according to their charters and stated aims.

Very often this activity puts them add odds with the local strongman like Orban in hungary.

I have not seen support of widespread deception of this organisations to achieve some hidden agendas.

So, i do think it is legitimate to discuss the role of NGOs in society or the specific aims of Soros NGOs.

But this is a far cry from, for example russia, financing front organizations to undermine other nations and spread their propaganda.


Yeah and it backfired on them. Trump's victory was first and foremost a reaction to heavy-handed pushing of neo-liberal agenda (sorry for sounding super-breitbarty there). Basically, the Soros', Clintons, etc. of this world need to be a little more delicate, a little less arrogant and a little less compromised. Macron is idealogically == Clintons, but he will win (against a stronger candidate) b/c he doesn't have dirty laundry and (this is a guess, as I don't speak French), French mass media hasn't yet transformed into some sort of strange orwellian-buzzfeed hybrid.


That's the ultimate myth, that somehow "liberal" agenda was pushed too arrogantly, too hard. No, it's exactly the opposite of that, it's the case of the cornered boar.

Millions of people decided they know better than facts. That's it.

- bring back jobs (won't happen, because automation and simply too high cost of living in USA)

- climate change is a Chinese hoax (coal ash is killing folks in the USA, and they have the largest healthcare-financing problem)

- illegal immigrants, Mexico wall (ineffective and immigrants are net payers, since they pay taxes, but don't receive any support)

- sex ed, planned parenthood, contraceptions (again, costs of teen pregnancies are hurting them the most)


>Millions of people decided they know better than facts. That's it.

I don't think people voted for Trump because they think he was spouting facts (when did facts ever factor in a US election ?).

I think they voted for him because they felt that between him and Hillary it was a bad choice either way, so why not go with the 'new kid on the block' this time around.


bring back jobs (won't happen, because automation and simply too high cost of living in USA)

US/Mexico trade balance pre/post NAFTA? If you go by the numbers alone, it's pretty clear-cut. Unless you know better than the facts of course...


Trade balance alone is meaningless. The US is a much wealthier country/nation/state than Mexico, of course if barriers to trade are lowered people will import more from the cheaper side. This helps Mexico's developing economy.


Helping a developing economy is a laudable goal sure, the political question is whether it is enough to be worth inflicting costs on your own voters. Some of said voters will say yes of course, generally those will be the ones benefiting from cheaper products/labour, and not those who have been undercut.


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The current economics model for automation is Skill-biased technological change. That means that new technology is not a universal production multiplier, it needs people who can wield it, they need to have certain skills. But those who have will be a lot more productive than those who are without this combination of skill and technology. Hence the enormous demand for high-skilled workers. Which means slowly disappearing demand for unskilled workers. No, it doesn't necessarily mean the total number of jobs is shrinking, but people need to possess more and more complex skills. (And of course there's the problem of rising income inequality, capital and wealth concentration, and so on.)

> climate

Manufacturing moved because wages, not because environmental regulations.

And of course China has benefitted.

The US was too generous, reciprocity was missing in capital transfer options.

> ...

I support an open borders policy. Especially in case of the US, where being a resident doesn't give you any support automatically (as opposed to let's say Nordic countries).

I don't "support" illegal immigration. I support helping people getting out of illegality.

I respect the need for security, and I want others to respect my need for real security, not security theater.

> ...

Teen pregnancies are not a solution. It's a spiral of poverty and misery. And yes, there are multiple groups, millions of people for banning contraception. Making it impossible to buy.


George Soros is a euphemistic stand-in for "the international conspiracy of rich Jews" -- a persistent scapegoat with a very sordid history.


What's so sordid about Soros - at least from the perspective of the right?

I could understand the left loathing him more - due to his involvement in the financial sector.

I have a tendency to view him positively because of his support of the concept of the Open Society and his espousal of Popper's political project. I don't know a huge amount about him beyond that but this alone makes me lean towards regarding him as a force for good - even if the idea of billionaires spending money advancing political agendas is deeply troubling on the whole.


is he? My understanding is that he actually funds organisations like the Open Society Foundation and Media Matters - just because he's Jewish doesn't mean he's a stand-in for old conspiracies, especially if he actually does fund progressive political organisations.


Having once been a recipient of an Open Society Foundation grand on the order of X00,000$, I have to say that both of you are right: His jewishness is definitely used to amplify opposition to him, by people opposing him primarily because he advocates for open democracies.

It's important to clearly state what is meant when people talk about Soros' "liberal" or "progressive" values: the work I have seen is almost exclusively concerned with the mechanisms of politics, not the content. It is motivated by his experience of seeing both fascism and communism devastating his native country and opposes both extremes. The work I was involved in organised debating competitions for students from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and everything in between and there's nothing "liberal" about it, unless you count allowing women to participate on equal footing as such.


How did you get one of those grants?


He does fund those organizations. But when I read comments from Trump supporters about Soros, they're assigning him a superhuman level of control and manipulation that has nothing to do with his actual financial contributions. His name is used as a stand-in for a conspiracy.

Also it's worth noting that factual statements about Jews can be used in antisemite contexts. For example, "there are so many Jews in Hollywood..." is not incorrect, but it's easy to imagine how that phrase is typically used.


It's easy to imagine how "Jews run Hollywood" is used (well we don't have to imagine; we know, and examples are probably not hard to find).

OTOH, unless we're saying Jews in Hollywood, or George Soros, get a free pass just because they happen to be Jewish (assuming Soros even is; I suspect most people who criticise him don't know), then we need to be careful of silencing legitimate criticism by falsely labelling it anti-Semitic.


That's the point though: it's quite difficult to conceive "lots of Jews in Hollywood" as a criticism rather than a pretty anodyne fact unless one is making "Hollywood is liberal because Jewish conspiracies are using it as a tool to push their agenda upon an unsuspecting public" which seem rather more deeply rooted in anti-Semitism than reality


The point isn't what Soros actually does, it's that the right paints him as the figurehead of a secret Jewish world order.

Read what the leaders and far-right populist movements in Poland and Hungary say about Soros and you can't miss the 'old conspiracies'.


Your understanding is correct. It's a fact that he funds a large number of such organizations (and has for decades now). I can't imagine anyone disputing that at this point, it's extremely well known at all levels politically. I'm not aware that he even attempts to hide most of it. It'd be like pretending the Koch brothers don't do many of the equivalent things on the right.


I think I'd rather have NGOs lobbying for laws to mitigate corruption and improve education, than NGOs telling people in Africa that using birth control is a sin and that they should kill gay people.


No. There are many people with Jewish background who oppose his agenda. And he does not hide being rich or pushing unwanted agendas in the countries where his NGOs operate.


There are many people with Jewish background who oppose his agenda.

That has nothing to do with how his name is used by online posters as an antisemitic shorthand.


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Your first link is a fine example of the kind of projection that goes on around George Soros. Let's trace the links around how you arrived at the conclusion that an American citizen is financing Islamists in Europe.

Over the past decades, he has donated his time and money to create the Open Society Foundations with the aim of improving civic society and democracies around the world. The OSF have two dozen programs, ranging from Education Support to Fiscal Governance to Public Health: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/about/programs

One of these programs is the Human Rights Initiative, which has hundreds of projects and focus areas around the world. The scope of projects is as wide as human needs: disability rights, government accountability, etc.

One of these projects is Islamophobia in Europe. The OSF website explains in detail why this is a problem, why there's not enough data about it, and what OSF is doing: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/explainers/islamophob...

In France, a NGO called CCIF works in this field: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectif_contre_l%27islamopho...

CCIF has applied and received grants from OSF. It's important to note that CCIF is not otherwise affiliated with OSF or Soros. Thousands of organizations receive grants. CCIF is a recognized non-profit in France.

Within some CCIF subgroup, there are apparently people sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, a large and rather loose transnational organization that promotes an Islamist society (although the Brotherhood claims to be a peaceful organization and condemns all violence).

So, the connection between Soros and the Muslim Brotherhood is filtered through several layers of NGOs and grant boards. The number of grants made by OSF over the years must be in the hundreds of thousands. It's ridiculous to claim that Soros is personally involved in financing Islamism. (As a Finnish taxpayer, I probably have as much involvement in indirectly supporting some Islamist group -- there must be a botched aid project where Finnish money ended up in the hands of Somalian militants, for example. It's just statistics of trying to do long-term good in a very flawed world.)


Thank you for this cogent response.


which is why the media barely paid attention to the OpenSociety leaks

Or maybe it was because there was nothing to "leak". Seriously, that Open Society was founded by Soros, that it gave a grant to the CCIF and that it funds political initiatives across Europe is not a "leak", it's on their damn website.

https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/o...


And the following where you can hear from himself what kind of person he is: https://youtu.be/HXqty2rkUDY

I took me months to read most Open Society leaks and I personally do not like how they influence the political climate etc.


> bankrolling initiatives to sway elections

That's called politics.

> financing Islamists in Europe

Can you back that assertion up with something that doesn't look like pizzagate propaganda?

> buying off members of EU parliament

The doc you link to is just a lobbying firm's work product.


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