When Labour Headquarters was run by Iain McNichol, his office carried out a co ordinated, clandestine campaign to mislead Jeremy Corbyn & his team during the 2017 snap general election.
Utilizing micro-targeted social media adverts the Labour Party leader and his closest aides were convinced that the central Labour Party, as well as the local Labour parties, were running the campaign the way the Leaders office wished the campaign to be run.
Iain McNichol and other Campaign coordinators at Labour HQ tricked their own leader, and his team, in an effort to stifle Corbyn’s preferred messaging, simply because they disapproved of Corbyn’s socialist manifesto.
They duped Corbyn and his campaign team into thinking that the Blairite controlled Labour Party HQ – which famously imposed a £25 poll tax on their own members so as to try to price out Corbyn supporters from voting – were adhering to the Corbyn led Labour Party campaign manifesto plans by using £5,000 of Labour Party members money to pay for adverts solely designed to be seen by Corbyn, his aides and their favourite journalists, while pouring far more money into adverts with a Blairite messaging for the wider public.
The ruse is revealed in a new book — Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy — by Tom Baldwin, who served as Ed Miliband’s director of communications.
“Corbyn’s aides sometimes demanded big spending on Facebook advertising for pet projects which Southsiders [Blairites at Labour HQ] regarded as a waste of money,” says Baldwin
A Labour Party official told him: “They wanted us to spend a fortune on some schemes like the one they had to encourage voter registration, but we only had to spend about £5,000 to make sure Jeremy’s people, some journalists and bloggers saw it was there on Facebook.
“And if it was there for them, they thought it must be there for everyone. It wasn’t. That’s how targeted ads can work.”
Baldwin says: “When the leader of a political party can be tricked in such fashion by his own officials, voters themselves stand little chance.”
“Hillary Clinton used 66,000 different Facebook adverts during the US presidential election, which sounds like a lot until it is compared with Trump’s total of 5.9m. There were days when the Trump campaign varied ads more often than Clinton did in the course of the whole campaign.”
“Britain has a tradition stretching back to the 1950s that bars political attack ads appearing on TV. British politics has been better for it and we cannot allow an even more insidious form of advertising to take over now.”
A pro Corbyn Labour source said: “Despite fighting with one hand tied behind our backs by some uncooperative senior staff, we achieved the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945. At the next election, we’ll have a fantastic and co-operative party machine to match our incredible mass membership and popular policies.”