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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Sun Sep 6, 2009, 11:57 PM
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Dominic Cummings: how the Brexit referendum was won

(First published 9 January 2017.)

In January 2014 I left the Department for Education and spent the next 18 months away from politics. A few days after the 2015 election I wrote a blog about Michael Gove’s new job touching on the referendum. When I wrote it I assumed I would carry on studying and would not be involved in it. About ten days later I was asked by an assortment of MPs, rich businessmen, and campaigners including Matthew Elliott to help put together an organisation that could fight the referendum. I was very reluctant and prevaricated but ended up agreeing. I left my happy life away from SW1 and spent eight weeks biking around London persuading people to take what was likely to be a car crash career decision – to quit their jobs and join a low probability proposition: hacking the political system to win a referendum against almost every force with power and money in politics. In September we had an office, in October ‘Vote Leave’ went public, in April we were designated the official campaign, 10 weeks later we won.

Why and how? The first draft of history was written in the days and weeks after the 23 June and the second draft has appeared over the past few weeks in the form of a handful of books. There is no competition between them. Shipman’s is by far the best and he is the only one to have spoken to key people. I will review it soon. One of his few errors is to give me the credit for things that were done by others, often people in their twenties like Oliver Lewis, Jonny Suart, and Cleo Watson who, unknown outside the office, made extreme efforts and ran rings around supposed ‘experts’. His book has encouraged people to exaggerate greatly my importance.

I have been urged by some of those who worked on the campaign to write about it. I have avoided it, and interviews, for a few reasons (though I had to write one blog to explain that with the formal closing of VL we had made the first online canvassing software that really works in the UK freely available HERE). For months I couldn’t face it. The idea of writing about the referendum made me feel sick. It still does but a bit less.

For about a year I worked on this project every day often for 18 hours and sometimes awake almost constantly. Most of the ‘debate’ was moronic as political debate always is. Many hours of life I’m never getting back were spent dealing with abysmal infighting among dysfunctional egomaniacs while trying to build a ~£10 million startup in 10 months when very few powerful people thought the probability of victory was worth the risk of helping us. (Two rare heroes who put up a lot of their own money and supported the team were Peter Cruddas and Stuart Wheeler.) Many of those involved regarded their TV appearances as by far the most important aspect of the campaign. Many regarded Vote Leave as ‘the real enemy’.


Spoiler/key passage from a long read:

Rebuttal from LSE blog:

More fake news in 'The Mail on Sunday'

An attack by the 'The Mail on Sunday' on the accuracy and integrity of a recent paper on global warming is based on inaccurate and misleading claims, including a fake graph.

The article by David Rose appears in the 5 February issue of the newspaper under the headline 'Exposed: How world leaders were duped over global warming'. The article was first published on the newspaper's website on 4 February.

The article makes a number of extraordinary claims about a paper by Dr Thomas Karl, a climate scientist formerly employed by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and colleagues, which was published in June 2015.


However, the article by David Rose in 'The Mail on Sunday' contains many demonstrably false statements and misrepresentations about the paper by Dr Karl and co-authors.



Fintan O'Toole: Welcome to Trumperica

Probably the smartest thing anyone said about Donald Trump before his election was the explanation by Salena Zito in The Atlantic of why he could get away with making wildly exaggerated or flatly false statements: "When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally."

And yet Zito's insight has turned out to be insufficient. In the mad days that have followed his inauguration, it has become clear that Trump takes himself both literally and seriously.

He mistakes his own impulses for facts. He does not know the difference between self-aggrandising symbolic gestures and lived human realities, and this tiny-minded literalism has very serious consequences for millions of people.

The most important thing to understand about the executive order keeping immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim countries out of the US is that it has no relationship whatsoever to its stated purpose. That purpose is, supposedly, to keep America safe from terrorism. The order is actually called "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States".


EU leaders round on Trump and reject May's bridge-building efforts

Source: The Guardian

European leaders launched a series of attacks on Donald Trump over his anti-EU rhetoric on Friday, accusing him of a lack of respect, as Theresa May's attempts to position herself as a bridge with the new US president were roundly rejected at a summit in Malta.

Trump's conduct was scorned by prime ministers and presidents, with the French leader, François Hollande, warning there would be no future for Europe's relations with the US "if this future isn't defined in common".

At a working lunch at the talks in the Maltese capital, Valletta, the British prime minister appealed to other leaders to work "constructively and patiently" with the American president. Addressing reporters, however, Hollande said: "Of course it is not about asking one particular country, be it the UK or any other, to represent Europe in its relationship with the United States. In a while, France will be the only permanent member of the security council to be also a member of the EU when the UK leaves."

Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Lithuanian president, offered a withering verdict: "I don't think there is a necessity for a bridge. We communicate with the Americans on Twitter."

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/03/eu-leaders-trump-may-attempt-act-bridge-malta-summit

The Rise of Progressive 'Fake News'


If progressives are looking to be shocked, terrified, or incensed, they have plenty of options. Yet in the past two weeks, many have turned to a different avenue: They have shared "fake news," online stories that look like real journalism but are full of fables and falsehoods.


Brooke Binkowski is the managing editor of Snopes, the English-speaking internet's most important rumor-debunking site. It is her job to sit around and look at some of the most popular falsehoods on the web all day. Earlier this week, I asked her if she had seen a spike in the amount and popularity of fake news aimed at liberals.


She emphasized that there's no equivalence between the falsehoods coming from the American left and the right in the past two weeks. Individual Democrats on Facebook may cling to pleasant stories and wishful thinking, but the Republican White House press secretary spouts off lies beneath the presidential seal. On Thursday, Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to the president, referenced a terrorist attack that never happened.

But a preponderance of fake information ultimately harms the political cause that absorbs it. It’s also bad strategy: Michael Walzer writes that the left’s task at this moment in history is "to help hold the center." ...


The rest of the article is an interview with Binkowski, exploring what she's observed, from blatant clickbait to satire (too often accepted as truth by the unwary) to outright misinformation exploiting an understandable tendency for desperate wishful thinking.

Farage mocked at European parliament meeting


Lessons of Holocaust being forgotten, says Prince Charles

Source: The Guardian

The Prince of Wales has said the lessons of the Holocaust are in danger of being forgotten, in remarks which have been linked by some to Donald Trump's ban on Syrian refugees entering the US.

The heir to the throne was speaking at the annual dinner of World Jewish Relief three days after Trump signed an executive order indefinitely banning Syrian refugees and suspending entry for people from seven Muslim countries.

The prince told the charity dinner: "In my own life, I have always tried to reach across the boundaries of faith and community; to extend a helping hand wherever one might be needed."

The charity's work was particularly needed "at a time when the horrific lessons of the last war seem to be in increasing danger of being forgotten", he added.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/31/lessons-holocaust-being-forgotten-prince-charles-world-jewish-relief

Not the first time Charles has said this, but maybe we won't have to wait till he's in the same room as Trump for the tangerine tyrant to "erupt".

Article includes some extremely commendable condemnation of the executive order from attendees, including the Commonwealth Chief Rabbi.

Russia accuses cybersecurity experts of treasonous links to CIA

Source: The Guardian

Two of Moscow's top cybersecurity officials are facing treason charges for cooperating with the CIA, according to a Russian news report.

The accusations add further intrigue to a mysterious scandal that has had the Moscow rumour mill working in overdrive for the past week, and come not long after US intelligence accused Russia of interfering in the US election and hacking the Democratic party's servers.

Sergei Mikhailov was deputy head of the FSB security agency's Centre for Information Security. His arrest was reported in a series of leaks over the past week, along with that of his deputy and several civilians, but Tuesday's news went much further.

"Sergei Mikhailov and his deputy, Dmitry Dokuchayev, are accused of betraying their oath and working with the CIA," Interfax said, quoting a source familiar with the investigation.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/31/russian-cybersecurity-experts-face-treason-charges-cia
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