The UK-government funded Institute for Statecraft is targeting Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, as well as the entire Labour, in addition to “Russian influence and propaganda.”
This UK government-funded, bogus McCarthyite "monitoring group" the Integrity Initiative repeatedly smeared Jeremy Corbyn, while it claims to "defend democracy against disinformation."
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 27, 2018
The Institute for Statecraft, based in Scotland, initially seems to be a small organization which claims to counter alleged Russian propaganda by forming communities of journalists and influencers who use social media to push back on any so-called disinformation. It appears as a small charity, operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.
However, the Daily Record cited leaked documents that reveal that the most significant project of the Institute is the “Integrity Initiative,” and it has received approximately £2 million of Foreign Office funding and is run by intelligence specialists.
The Integrity Initiative is a “think tank” that supposedly counters alleged Russian online propaganda via the formation of “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to “combat disinformation.”
However, an investigation by the Daily Record discovered that the programme’s official Twitter accounted had been used to attack Corbyn, the Labour party and their officials.
“One tweet quotes a newspaper article calling Corbyn a “useful idiot”, that goes on to state: “His open visceral anti-Westernism helped the Kremlin cause, as surely as if he had been secretly peddling Westminster tittle-tattle for money.”
A message from the UK Government-funded organisation promotes an article that states: “Unlike Galloway (former MP George Galloway) Corbyn does not scream conspiracy, he implies it,” while another added: “It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem.”
A further message refers to an “alleged British Corbyn supporter” who “wants to vote for Putin”.”
Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s strategy and communications director was also targeted.
The Integrity Initiative retweeted a newspaper report that said: “Milne is not a spy – that would be beneath him. But what he has done, wittingly or unwittingly, is work with the Kremlin agenda.”
Another retweet promoted a journalist who said: “Just as he supports the Russian bombardment of Syria, Seumas Milne supported the Russian slaughter of Afghanistan, which resulted in more than a million deaths.”
A Labour MP, Chris Williamson expressed his condemnation of the Integrity Initiative’s efforts:
My comments on the @InitIntegrity scandal.
We need decisive action to unearth precisely what is going on. This is unacceptable in any democracy. pic.twitter.com/zW32VwNzOu
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) December 9, 2018
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said:
“It would appear that we have a charity registered in Scotland and overseen by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator that is funded by the UK Government and is spewing out political attacks on UK politicians, the Labour Party and the Labour movement. Such clear political attacks and propaganda shouldn’t be coming from any charity. We need to know why the Foreign Office have been funding it.”
The UK Foreign Office confirmed that it has funded the Integrity Initiative. In response to a parliamentary question, Europe Minister Alan Duncan said:
“In financial year 2017-18, the FCO funded the Institute for Statecraft’s Integrity Initiative £296,500. This financial year, the FCO are funding a further £1,961,000. Both have been funded through grant agreements.”
Thus it appears that in the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year, combating alleged Russian Influence required much more financing.
Alan Duncan also ordered an investigation into the reports that the Institute of Statecraft and the Integrity Initiative have received government funding.
“I don’t know the facts but if there is any kind of organisation for which we are paying which is involved in domestic politics in that way, I would totally condemn it, and I have already over the weekend asked for a report to be on my desk by 10 o’clock this morning to say if there is any such activity,” he said.
When he was asked if he wished for the attacks on the Labour party and Corbyn to stop, he had the following to say:
“Not only must it stop, I want to know why on earth it happened in the first place.”
Stephen Dalziel, a spokesman for the Integrity Initiative, told the Daily Record, that he was aware of no such attacks on the Labour or Corbyn.
He said: “I’m not aware of that. I’m not the one who controls the Twitter account. If it was criticism of one of our politicians, then that shouldn’t be on there.”
When he was asked about the military background of the project’s employees, he denied any involvement of the secret service.
“Chris Donnelly was in the TA for many years. Dan Lafayeedney, who is a Scot, that’s why it is registered in Scotland, was many years ago in the Army. I did one year as a TA officer on attachment. The biggest chunk of my career, I was a BBC journalist. Definitely not secret service, I promise you.”
Furthermore, following the reports, the Integrity Initiative pinned a tweet claiming that it is a non-partisan programme.
The Integrity Initiative is a non-partisan programme https://t.co/hmoISOutDG
— Integrity Initiative (@InitIntegrity) December 9, 2018
The question stands: If the a project that is aimed at combating alleged Russian influence and propaganda meddle in its country’s internal policy and affairs, what is stopping it from interfering in other countries’ affairs by utilizing its clusters there?