Tag Archives: voter

Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum; it just lied about what it could do, says watchdog

This can’t be the first time an organisation harmed its own reputation with wild claims.

But Cambridge Analytica seems to have engineered its own destruction with its claim to be able to influence people using data it had accrued about them.

These referred to Americans but it seems they raised questions about the organisation’s role in the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union in 2016.

As a result, the (UK’s) Information Commissioner launched an investigation into the company in 2017 – and it collapsed in 2018.

Were the two events related? If so, it could be argued that Cambridge Analytica’s own boasts destroyed it.

Cambridge Analytica had repeatedly claimed in its marketing material to have “5,000+ data points per individual on 230 million adult Americans”, suggesting it had incredible power to micro-target individuals with suggestive political messaging using a giant psychographic database.

However, the investigation concluded that “based on what we found it appears that this may have been an exaggeration” and much of the company’s activities followed “well recognised processes using commonly available technology”.

So did it attract the unwanted attention of the information regulator needlessly?

Well, it seems the firm wasn’t involved in the EU referendum campaign at all:

[Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner] said she found no evidence that Cambridge Analytica were actively involved in the EU referendum campaign, beyond an early proposal to work with UKIP which was not put into action.

It turns out the Information Commissioner found no evidence of collusion with Russia to influence the referendum either:

[Denham] said her team also found no evidence Cambridge Analytica aided Russian intervention in the UK political process.

Particularly interesting to This Writer, though, was the revelation that

the company’s data protection practices were lax “with little thought for effective security measures”.

Couple this with the following –

Cambridge Analytica founder Alexander Nix was disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years for “offering potentially unethical services to prospective clients” including bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents, and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.

– and we see that the firm (or at least its founder) was quite happy to break the Data Protection Act left, right and centre by obtaining information and then distributing it to the public in breach of the law.

This links with my recent court case against the Labour Party, in which I gave evidence that employees had put together false information about me and passed it to newspapers who then published it to thousands of people.

Labour’s representative tried to claim that, even though the party (as represented by its general secretary) was the data manager responsible for the way the information was used, it was not responsible for the acts of any employees because (as I understand it) there is no evidence that it ordered them to commit those acts.

But then, they wouldn’t have had access to this – false, in my case – information if Labour had not ordered them to compile it.

Put the two cases together and it seems the Data Protection Act is a dead letter – unless a person whose information has been misused can prove exactly who misused it and why they did it. That’s going to be impossible in most cases, isn’t it?

I was therefore hoping to read that the Information Commissioner was bringing recommendations to the government that would strengthen the law.

And I was keen to see what they would be.

I was disappointed. It seems all the information that we are obliged to provide to organisations, just to get on in modern life, is vulnerable to abuse every way you can imagine. Not a happy thought!

Source: Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum, says watchdog | UK news | The Guardian

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Tories love being racist: they lied about voter ID demand stopping BAME people from voting

The Conservative government said its plan to demand ID from voters at elections did not discriminate against black people and those minority ethnic groups, when the only available facts showed that it did.

As far as This Writer is concerned, that is an example of blatant racism – an attempt to deny people who aren’t white their basic democratic right.

Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said in June that “the evidence shows there is no impact on any particular demographic group … the evidence of our pilots shows that there is no impact on any particular demographic group from this policy.”

But the Electoral Commission showed information that suggests the exact opposite.

A 2019 report found in Derby, one of the pilot areas, that there was a strong correlation between the proportion of each ward’s population from an Asian background and the number of people not issued with a ballot paper – similar to a 2018 finding in Watford.

But the Commission said, “Polling station staff were not asked to collect demographic data about the people who did not come back, owing to the practical challenges involved in carrying out that data collection exercise.”

It cautioned against drawing any conclusions from the data and said there was not yet sufficient evidence in either direction.

But we can draw conclusions.

If the Tories had wanted to know who would be deprived of the vote, and how badly it affected particular groups, they would have carried out the research. They didn’t.

They then went on to tell falsehoods that the research had been carried out when it hadn’t and that it showed no impact on any demographic group.

You don’t lie about something like this unless you are deliberately trying to harm people from ethnic minorities.

We can only conclude that the Tory voter ID plan is intended to stop black people and those from other ethnic minorities from voting:

Yes, voter suppression. Tories in government are a racist attack on democracy.

Source: MPs may have been misled over BAME voter ID claims | Electoral reform | The Guardian

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Raise taxes on the rich, voters tell Johnson. They’ll be disappointed – it was never in his manifesto

Voter confusion: a survey has shown that voters’ policy preferences indicate they should have put Labour in power, not the Tories.

The Independent reckons Boris Johnson is facing a dilemma after a survey found voters who gave him his election landslide want him to raise taxes on the rich.

There’s just one problem:

That was never a Conservative manifesto promise so he’s under no obligation to do anything of the sort.

Did these people not realise that they were voting for the promises the Tories put in their manifesto?

Voters have never had the right to make demands on a government after putting it in power.

And I know it must seem unfair, considering governments very rarely act according to their manifestos. Theresa May’s 2017 manifesto was obsolete almost before it was published.

And in Johnson’s case, the dilemma isn’t even “Does he deliver for Conservative voters or business leaders?” as the news website claims.

Johnson will deliver for himself, as always. If anybody else profits, that’ll be their good fortune.

But the survey does make one thing very clear.

Voters who want government intervention in the economy, tax rises for the wealthy and spending on public services made a mistake voting Tory.

Those were Labour policies.

Source: People who voted for Boris Johnson want government to raise taxes on the rich, survey finds | The Independent

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Voter ID: ‘protecting the integrity of democracy’ – or just stopping plebs from voting?

Voters at the ballot box: but would either of these people have been able to exercise their democratic right, had they been asked to produce acceptable photographic identification?

Boris Johnson’s government has already failed on two key promises – raising the minimum wage and rail access for disabled people – but he’s promising to be really good at delivering this one.

He says introducing mandatory photographic identification of voters at polling stations will “protect the integrity of our democracy” – it’s on page 48 of his Conservative manifesto.

He means he wants to deprive tens of thousands of young people and those from disadvantaged groups from voting – because they don’t vote Tory.

Critics have pointed out that very few people have been caught committing personation – pretending to be someone else in order to commit electoral fraud.

In comparison, 800 genuine voters were turned away in a pilot project earlier this year.

Meanwhile, critics have warned that Mr Johnson is ignoring genuine problems like anonymous political ads, dodgy donations and fake news.

It seems that, while claiming to be improving democracy, Mr Johnson is in fact trying to, badly, limit it.

Source: Voter ID: Boris Johnson to make photo ID mandatory at polling stations, Queen’s Speech reveals | The Independent

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Boris Johnson’s offensive antics are ‘haemorrhaging’ support from traditional Tories

Offensive: Boris Johnson.

Admittedly, Dominic Grieve is not Boris Johnson’s biggest fan. They disagreed on Brexit so much that BoJob withdrew the Conservative whip from Mr Grieve, forcing him to sit as an Independent MP.

But the former Attorney General’s comments to Channel 4 News are hugely revealing:

So all the Tory bluster and bravado about Boris Johnson trouncing Labour in a general election is just a lot of hot air, it seems.

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FAKE NEWS: Lib Dem-supporting website says Labour voters prefer Swinson to Corbyn. They don’t.

Laughter: Present Jeremy Corbyn with the claims made by ‘The Torch’ and this could be his reaction.

Self-confessed “Liberal [read: Lib Dem] source of political news” The Torch has claimed – well, see for yourself:

new opinion poll by Opinium has been released today, showing one fascinating detail: Labour voters prefer Jo Swinson, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, to Jeremy Corbyn.

Oh, really?

The hyperlink there leads to a tweet by one Mike Smithson – not the Opinium poll.

Fortunately, Pete Davidson was around to provide the raw data:

That’s a big difference!

In fact, 59 per cent of Labour supporters liked Corbyn, and only eight per cent showed support for Swinson.

Of course, it’s hard to see the reasoning behind the Torch claim without seeing the Opinium results, and This Writer can’t find them anywhere!

If anyone reading this can point me to where they are, I would be grateful.

But for the time being it seems clear that Labour supporters overwhelmingly prefer Jeremy Corbyn to Jo Swinson and the claim was untrue.

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Labour opens up two-digit lead over the Conservatives in voting intention polls

The Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn has opened up a huge lead over the Conservative government in voter-intention polls.

This is in spite of attempts to smear Mr Corbyn with false allegations of anti-Semitism.

It also runs against claims that Labour’s policy on Brexit is hampering the party’s electability.

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1115989317598482432

In fact, there seem to be several:

The poll that offers options for a larger number of parties is the one that gives Labour a 13-point lead, and this suggests that the rise of Change UK (or The Independent Group) has harmed the Conservatives more than Labour.

It seems unlikely that the new organisation/party will be able to field candidates in all constituencies if an election is called soon, so it is perhaps unwise to assume the gulf between the two main parties will be as wide in practice.

And many people would say polls like these are designed to influence voters, rather than reflect their plans.

Still, these results may shut up the centrists who have been making noises about Labour’s lack of ability to open up a large lead despite current Tory weakness.

And it probably means mainstream media pundits will stop talking about the polls for a while (remember, they only refer to polls in order to claim the Conservatives are in the lead; think about the “gaslighting” scandal involving Diane Abbott on the BBC’s Question Time).

It is unlikely to stop certain malcontents from fabricating claims of anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn and the Labour Party because it is impossible to draw any conclusions about this aspect of the current political debate; people could be attracted to Labour as much because of accusations of anti-Semitism as in denial of them. It’s an unpleasant thought but, as another part of current discourse has it, Brexit has encouraged a revival of racism in certain members of the electorate.

Personally, I think this is more accurate:

In related news:

and

https://twitter.com/rosskempsell/status/1115155616308264960

Some are saying that Labour has only to wait and the Conservatives will become extinct by themselves, but this is nonsense; they have been in power for nine years and that has allowed enough younger people to see what Tory policies do.

It will take a sustained period in power – and acting for the good of the population at large – for Labour to finally end the electability of the privileged class.


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Now the Tories are trying to cover up the cost of stopping us from voting

The Conservative government is withholding the facts about the cost of its pointless “voter ID” checks.

The scheme puts barriers in the way to prevent ordinary people from voting – at huge cost to the public purse.

A pilot during the local government elections this year cost £1.7 million and resulted in an alleged 350 people being turned away from polling stations in five constituencies.

The result was entirely disproportionate to the problem. There were only 21 cases of alleged in-person voter fraud in 2014, 44 in 2016, and 28 in 2017 – 0.000063% per vote cast.

It gave rise to criticisms that the Conservatives are trying to disenfranchise huge numbers of voters – who are demographically more likely to support the Labour Party.

Now the Tories are withholding details of the cost of another pilot “voter ID” check, due to take place next year.

These Conservatives are constantly telling us there is no money for vital services, but they are happy to spray public cash up the wall when it suits them.

Remember the water cannons that Boris Johnson bought for £322,000 while he was Mayor of London? They have been sold for just £11,025 – for scrap – after never having been used.

Of particular note to those who think the Tories are the party of financial responsibility is the cost of fitting CD players – £1,000 per water cannon.

And we know that the Conservatives offered £1 billion of our money to the DUP, just to support them in Parliament, with a further £1 billion included in this year’s Budget. Of course, they only handed over a little more than £400 million of it, but think what a difference that could have made to people struggling to make ends meet on pared-to-the-bone benefits that no longer cover the necessities of life.

Now they think they can spend our own money on schemes to stop those of us who support Labour from doing so at a polling station.

The sooner they lose the “no confidence” vote that seems certain to happen in the next few weeks – and all their silly spending splurges are scrapped – the better.

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Voter ID harms democracy so the Conservatives WILL roll it out, never mind the £20 million cost


It doesn’t matter how many organisations make common-sense arguments to stop the roll-out of voter ID checks.

The Conservatives are in trouble at the ballot box; they’re losing votes badly and need to stop Labour voters having a chance to exercise what should be their democratic right.

That is the reason the Tories have been claiming the voter ID pilot tests during the local elections in May were a glorious success, despite the fact that thousands of legitimate voters were denied access to democracy.

At just five constituencies, 3,981 voters were turned away. The total number of allegations of voter fraud in 2017 – out of a total of 45 million votes cast – was just 28.

There is no way of proving that there was anything wrong with the 3,981 voters who were turned away, so we can only accept that 28 possible instances of voter fraud are known to us.

This means that, at £20 million to roll it out across the UK, the cost to the taxpayer is £700,000 per allegation.

Considering the cost, and the effect on democracy, it’s no wonder the details were released right before Parliament went into summer recess, in a (failed, as usual) bid to hide the plan from the general public.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Cat Smith, made the situation perfectly clear: “Wasting tens of millions of pounds on trying to make it harder for people to vote has got to be one of the most stupid ideas ever.”

It is stupid, but only because the Tories have been caught red-handed. But they are unlikely to care because it is unlikely that anybody else will be able to do anything about it.

… I wonder how this would affect the DUP’s vote, if rolled out in Northern Ireland? If it isn’t, of course, the corruption should be obvious to everybody.

Back to Ms Smith: “At a time when our public services are in crisis and thousands of families are having to rely on foodbanks to stave off hunger, it is staggering that the Tories think that they can justify these undemocratic and unaffordable plans,” she added.

“Local authority election teams are already facing huge financial pressures after eight years of extreme Tory cuts and the government has no plans to address these concerns.”

All true.

Back in May, when I wrote about this following the local elections, I stated: “If the Conservatives go ahead with this, based on the evidence we’ve seen, we’ll know they are trying to nobble democracy.”

And we do know, don’t we?

Ministers are facing calls to ditch plans for nationwide voter ID checks as it emerged introducing them at a general election could cost up to £20m – even though there were only 28 cases of polling station impersonations alleged in 2017.

The government has been urged to abandon the contentious proposals, with the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) pointing out that at this rate, the cost could equate to £700,000 per fraud allegation.

Labour has claimed the moves are in danger of locking people out of the democratic process, and critics fear it could disproportionately affect ethnic minorities and the poorest.

It comes after ministers vowed to press ahead with plans to extend trials of the scheme, despite hundreds of people being turned away from the ballot box during tests in several locations during May’s local elections.

Details of the potential cost, which includes the price of hiring and training extra staff to carry out the identification checks, were set out with little fanfare in a Cabinet Office paper released ahead of the summer recess.

Source: Ministers urged to abandon Voter ID as rollout at general election estimated to cost up to £20m | The Independent

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Voter ID pilot turned away too many people. Tories are bound to roll it out across the UK

It’s ridiculous – after 28 cases of possible voter fraud among 45 million votes in 2017, the Tory government turned away 3,981 people on Thursday, claiming they didn’t have the right identification.

People were turned away in more than one in five polling stations across Bromley, Woking, Gosport, Watford and Swindon, where the pilot was carried out.

The question now is, what will the Conservative government do with this information?

As a test of a system intended to ensure that everybody with a right to vote was allowed to vote, the trial was an utter, unmitigated disaster.

But some of us suspect that the Tories have an ulterior motive – to use a demand for forms of ID that many people don’t have as a way of cutting down the vote for other parties.

So Cat Smith, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, was right to say: “There was absolutely no case for introducing voter ID in the first place but after [Thursday’s] fiasco, it is impossible for the Government to justify rolling it out.

“After completely ignoring a number of serious warning signs, the Government decided to pilot discriminatory measures which denied people their right to vote.

“We cannot allow the Conservative Party to undermine our democracy, which is why Labour is calling on the Government to scrap their voter ID plans as a matter of urgency.”

If the Conservatives go ahead with this, based on the evidence we’ve seen, we’ll know they are trying to nobble democracy.

Over to you, Tories.


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