Tag Archives: Brexit

NOTA UK: Ten Years On

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign for real democracy over the years. If you’d like to make a donation you can do so here: https://www.paypal.me/notauk
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Ten years ago, I set up a Facebook page called ‘The None of the Above Movement’ to try to find out how many people shared my view that democracy in the UK is a sham – a Hobson’s Choice between two parties of the establishment with no way to register any kind of meaningful protest against that system at the ballot box.

Within days it had over 6000 followers – most of whom were culled in a Facebook update a couple of years later, forcing us to start again with a new group.

Since then, I have worked with various people to hone our vision of the one thing, above all else, that many of us feel our electoral system needs in order to be fit for purpose: a formal and binding bonafide ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option ‘with teeth’.

We’ve lobbied parliament, managing to get a select committee to include NOTA as a reform in and of itself in it’s 2015 recommendation to government for a public consultation (the committee was promptly scrapped after that year’s general election). I’ve appeared on various media platforms to try to raise awareness of our campaign and the need for NOTA. We’ve created a video series outlining the case for it. We’ve seen the Green Party of England & Wales develop a manifesto policy to include NOTA on UK ballot papers. All of this has culminated in our extensive and definitive NOTA UK white paper, published last year.

Brexit and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn – both seeming to represent genuine resistance to the status quo to different people – have made it very difficult over the last three or four years to cut through with our message.

As I write this – in lockdown due to Covid-19, witnessing the Labour and Conservative parties once again tearing themselves apart over their allegiances, their PR people and supine media spinning and propagandising everything as usual while people die in their tens of thousands, knowing that the undemocratic system I felt the need to rail against in 2010 remains exactly the same, if not worse – it is clear to me that now, more than ever, we need to come together and start banging the drum for real and lasting democratic reform once again.

NOTA is just one, albeit it crucial, part of that process. Recent years have revealed to me beyond doubt that, quite aside from NOTA’s absence, democracy is completely impossible when outright lying, amplified by totally unaccountable media and virtually untraceable dark ads online, is legal. The genie that Cambridge Analytica let out of the bottle is clearly never going to go back in, while a two horse race voting system in a multi-party landscape remains, in my opinion, a nonsense (although I remain critical of the Make Votes Matter campaign and their reliance on Proportional Representation to solve all of these problems).

I’ve written at length before about why I consider a formal and binding NOTA option on ballot papers to be the logical start point for full democratisation of any system of government (read our white paper for the low-down on that).

To summarise, properly understood, NOTA is an essential game changer that cannot be argued against without arguing against democracy itself. It’s achievable because it’s a democratic pre-requisite. If enough people understood that and were calling for it, it should only be a matter of time before its continued absence became politically untenable.

Once in place, NOTA wouldn’t have to ‘win’ any constituencies to be effective but if it did, it should trigger by-elections wherever that happened. But even if NOTA came second or third, any party that polled worse than NOTA would have serious questions to answer. The knock on effect of this would be that all parties would have to take stock, listen to what NOTA voters are saying and adjust their policies accordingly. Leading to a political landscape in which further democratic reform and the maximisation of the common good ought to become inevitable.

NOTA has never been about ‘not voting’ or encouraging people to try to ‘wreck’ the system. Once NOTA is in place, we wouldn’t then set about trying to persuade people to use it. If you believe a party deserves your vote, you should vote for them. But millions of people don’t and they are currently completely unrepresented. NOTA would give them a voice for the first time in history.

On the ten year anniversary of me embarking on this journey, I am committed more than ever to taking this campaign forward. But I need your help. We have no funding, no friends in high places. If you’d like to support this campaign, please consider making a one off or regular donation here to help fund the following:
  • PR costs (publicist, media co-ordination)
  • Campaign materials (social media ads, video content, leaflets)
  • Website maintenance/upgrade (domain costs, admin)
  • Time spent lobbying MP’s (emailing, phoning, meeting in person)
  • Travel costs (to meetings with interested parties, potential media appearances etc.)

Additionally, if anyone with experience of co-ordinating large scale campaigns shares our vision and wants to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact me at stan(at)nota-uk.org

We’ve come a long way. But there is much work to do. Join us.

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
01/05/20

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You can find out more and support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
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NOTA UK website

NOTA UK White Paper Updated

In response to feedback, we have today republished our definitive ‘None of the Above’ white paper with a new summary clarifying exactly how a formal and binding NOTA option would work in practice and why we believe it to be such a game changer. View and download it here.

Meet Cambridge Analytica: the Big Data communications company responsible for Trump & Brexit

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In September 2016 at the Concordia Summit, a man called Alexander Nix (above) gave a ten minute presentation called “The Power of Big Data and Psychographics”.


It was essentially a demonstration of the extent to which his company Cambridge Analytica is now able to harness the power of ‘Big Data’ (the online and digital fingerprints we all leave behind) to influence global elections.

The company boasts “a revolutionary approach to audience targeting, data modelling and psychographic profiling”  that has made them “a leader in behavioural micro-targeting for election processes around the world”.

If you’re still reeling from #Brexit and #Trump and wondering how on earth we got here, you really need to watch the video of this talk:

In it, Nix explains how his company used this cutting edge combination of technology and psychological profiling to propel Republican nominee candidate Ted Cruz from total obscurity to being the main rival to Trump. At the end of the talk he reveals that, in light of Cruz pulling out, one of the two remaining contenders in the race for the Whitehouse is now using their technology.

That contender, it transpires, was Donald Trump.

It further transpires, according to an investigation by Das Magazine reporters Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus, that Cambridge Analytica’s services were also hired by Nigel Farage’s ‘Leave EU’ campaign.

Much more on the company, the origins of the technology and details of how it was deployed during the EU referendum and US presidential election can be found here.

The upshot is this: for a price – literally millions – this company can, and does, use the vast amount of online data that exists on us all, in conjunction with advanced psychological profiling methods and existing social media algorithms, to profile, target and then push the buttons of millions of people in order to get them to vote – or not vote – however their paymasters want them to.

And that’s exactly what they did. This is not a conspiracy theory. There’s really no mystery to it. This is what modern ‘democracy’ has become.

It appears that in both cases, Cambridge Analytica profiled and targetted people who are susceptible to propaganda and well presented political messages, then ruthlessly exploited them, resulting in a spike in engagement on polling day among their paymasters supporters and a drop off among supporters of their opponents. Many a Remain and Clinton supporter has since bemoaned the fact that they didn’t vote for the simple reason that they believed the result to be a foregone conclusion.

What this means, above all else, is that neither Brexit or Trump’s victory were results of an organic movement to ‘take back control’ from the establishment as they are routinely portrayed. They were largely bought about by cynical, calculating, undemocratic mass manipulation of the general public via targetted psychological online profiling.

In spite of the non-racist, honourable intentions of many of those who backed Brexit and Trump, there can be no doubt that these election results have empowered the far right, to the point of it being able to rebrand itself as ‘Alt-Right’ and swell its ranks.

So, in a very real sense, this company and these campaigns (in conjunction with the programming of much of the mainstream media over many years, of course) could be said to be largely responsible for not only the results of these two crucial elections but also the rise of the so called ‘Alt-Right’ and the ‘Fake News’ / ‘Post Truth’ hysteria that has ensued since those results were announced. Without this intervention, it is entirely conceivable that the extreme fascist views of the far right would still be firmly in the fringes. Instead, they are now very much in the mainstream, barely concealed in the rhetoric of its most prominent cheerleaders.

What a pity these tech geniuses never use their powers for good. Imagine if, rather than just selling themselves out to the highest bidder with no concern for morals or ethics, they were to put their efforts behind genuinely progressive, pro-democracy campaigns.

Like ours.

MAYBE THEY ALREADY ARE…

I greatly doubt it.

Seriously though, it’s bad enough that our electoral systems are fundamentally undemocratic and ensure that only representatives of the same political class can ever get in, and that the partisan, deeply biased and hugely powerful mainstream media actively seek to control the electorate and directly influence our elections.

Now, on top of all that, unless you are aware of the dangers and take steps to avoid them, the apparently free and open internet is now also fully at the mercy of powerful undemocratic forces seeking to steal our elections.

Needless to say, we’re up against it. And needless to say, the need for truly democratic reform of our electoral systems and systems of government has never been greater.

Legislatively, much more needs to be done, clearly, if for the right price an Orwellian communications company can be drafted in to ensure an election victory for whoever can afford them, regardless of any moral or ethical concerns. But a formal, binding None of the Above (NOTA) option on ballots remains the logical, systemic starting point for this process. Find out why here.

NOTA, properly implemented, is a democratic pre-requisite, representing as it does the essential ability to be able to formally withhold consent and reject all that is on offer at an election, if deemed necessary, in a way that can affect the result if enough people do it. This mechanism, in its fully fledged form (as opposed to the token gesture, watered down versions in India and Nevada, for example), is currently absent both in the US, the UK and indeed everywhere, when it should be central to any and all systems claiming to be truly democratic. When understood this way, you cannot argue against NOTA and still be pro-democracy, meaning that all the while there is a need to present the various systems we have as paragons of democracy, even if they aren’t, NOTA is 100% achievable.

Introducing a form of NOTA is already UK Green Party policy. We now need to get this essential, transformative reform seriously recognised and firmly on the table across the board. In my view, as a matter of urgency.

With this in mind, I implore anyone reading this to familiarise yourself with the current state of play and recent articles on our website and start the all important conversations with your friends and families about how coming together and campaigning for NOTA presents a golden opportunity for us all to meaningfully push things forward at this surely critical time.

You can support the campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

If you live in the US, you can support and help draw attention to the need for a formal, binding NOTA option on ballot papers here.

Onwards…

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
02/02/17

UPDATE: 14/02/17 – Cambridge Analytica’s Trump and Cruz campaigns were specifically bankrolled by  billionaire Trump backer Robert Mercer. It transpires that prominent Trump advisor Steve Bannon was, until recently, also on the board of the company. It is now reportedly being lined up to handle all of the Trump administration’s digital communications, meaning it will be working closely with many departments across government. A detailed and extremely worrying analysis of what all this means for the future can be found here.

UPDATE: 27/02/17 – When I originally posted and shared this blog, many people instantly dismissed it as a ‘conspiracy theory’. Understandable, perhaps, as you’d think something like this would be headline news. Well, it’s not quite there yet, but elements of the mainstream media are finally reporting it. This excellent investigative piece appeared in The Observer on 25/02/17, confirming the story and revealing even more details.

UPDATE: 16/07/18 – Needless to say, this article has now been fully corroborated by the high profile media revelations of recent months. We now know that both election results were arrived at fraudulently. Yet Trump and Brexit trundle on while the fascist alt-right continues to be the primary beneficiary. It’s almost as though that was always the objective… buckle up!

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