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The Sunday Times have made an absolutely incredible front-page claim today – that Russia supposedly attempted to ‘swing’ the 2017 General Election in favour of Jeremy Corbyn.
The Murdoch-owned newspaper’s front-page splash was particularly bizarre, arguing that ‘6,500 Russian Twitter accounts’ – most of whom had virtually no followers – somehow managed to “bombard the public with orchestrated political messages” enough to “swing” the general election.
The Murdoch rag screeched that:
“The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.
Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election, helping supportive messages to reach millions of voters and denigrating its Conservative rivals.
Many of the Russian accounts can clearly be identified as internet robots — known as bots — that masqueraded under female English names but were in fact mass-produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages.
Academics say the fake accounts identified by this newspaper are just the tip of the iceberg and called on Twitter to investigate fully the true scale of Russian meddling in British politics.
Our investigation found overwhelming support for Corbyn and Labour from the Russian social media accounts with nine out of 10 messages about the party promoting its campaign. Conversely, nine out of 10 tweets about the Conservatives were hostile.”
— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) April 28, 2018
However, there was a tiny piece of information the Sunday Times somehow managed to forget from their article – something which makes their hilarious conspiracy theory look all the more ridiculous.
Yes, somebody appears to have forgotten to tell Murdoch that the Official Russian Embassy Twitter account – an account which regularly spews unadulterated pro-Russian propaganda and clearly takes direct orders from the Putin regime – literally declared their support for Theresa May and the Conservatives in the 2017 General Election.
On May 19th 2017, almost 3 weeks before Brits took to the polls, the Official Russian Embassy Twitter account tweeted May’s infamous ‘Strong and Stable’ campaign line with a clearly message clearly supporting continued Conservative rule:
Yes, despite the ridiculously reality-reversing claims of the right-wing press, it really is the Conservatives who are inextricably linked to the Putin regime.
Not only did the wife of Putin’s former Finance Minister pay Boris Johnson an eye-watering £160,000 for ‘a game of tennis’, the Tories have accepted millions in dirty money from Putin cronies.
Not only this, but Labour attempted to introduce the so-called Magnitsky powers – a policy that, had the Tories not voted against it, would have cracked down on rampant money laundering by super-rich Putin cronies.
And, as the Independent reported in March:
“But listen not to howling backbenchers, and instead to Putin’s actual opponents, the ones risking their lives to fight him around the world, and you will find what they have to say sounds rather more like Jeremy Corbyn than anything Theresa May or anyone else had to say on the matter.
The Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza has twice been poisoned and twice almost killed, by what he and others maintain can only be agents of the Russian state. Mr Kara-Murza, when well, dedicates most of his life trying to convince Western states to bring in meaningful “Magnitsky powers”.
Magnitsky powers are named after Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer of British-born businessman Bill Browder, who died in Russian police custody in 2009. Mr Browder maintains he was murdered as a consequence of uncovering fraud in the country.
Speak to Browder, Kara-Murza and others, and the point they will always hammer home is that the UK is in a uniquely strong position to act against Vladimir Putin and the Russian state, by passing laws that allow governments to seize the assets of corrupt foreign officials held abroad.
The US passed meaningful Magnitsky legislation in 2012. The UK passed some Magnitsky-style legislation in 2017, but it is limited. If the UK Government wishes to seize assets held by what it believes to be a corrupt foreign official, it must first go to court. The US makes no such provision.”
If Britain introduced Magnitsky Powers – as Corbyn desperately wants – it would be an unmitigated disaster for Putin and his super-rich oligarch cronies – many of whom use Britain, and London’s property market in particular, as an easy means of storing their dirty money.
If the Tories truly wanted to take on Putin, all they would have to do is hit him where it hurts – in the wallet. Yet, given they rely so heavily on donations from pro-Putin Russians, they will never willingly do this.
It is little wonder then that Russia categorically supported the Tories, and not Corbyn, in the 2017 General Election.
What is surprising, however, is that the right-wing press still believe they can get away with making ridiculously unfounded links between Corbyn and Russia, whilst simultaneously ignoring the uncomfortable reality that it is the Tories who are far closer to Putin than the Labour leader would ever choose to be.