The financial position of ailing marketing firm Acanchi underwent a startling transformation in 2012 just as they started work on creating the fake grassroots movement “Vote No Borders”.
In 2011 Acanchi’s auditors noted “The Company made a loss in the current year of £197,003, and at the balance sheet date its liabilities exceeded its assets by £385,162”. The company had a turnover of £25,631 against cost of sales of £21,283 and “admin expenses” of £201,125.
In 2012 Acanchi started work in Cambridge and London on developing the “VNB” PR campaign against Scottish Independence, which is surprising given that BBC propaganda portrayed VNB as a spontaneous movement of local Scots. We know they started in 2012 because one of Acanchi’s staff, Jessica Quiney, posted it on her CV on Linked-in. The CV page was deleted yesterday but not before Wings Over Scotland grabbed a screenshot.
This work for the No campaign coincided with an amazing turnaround in Acanchi’s financial fortunes. In 2011 they made a loss of £197,003. In 2012 they made a profit of £103,292. The income from sales went from £25,631 in 2011 to £348,835 in 2012.
There is a very interesting explanation given in the Directors’ report to the Acanchi annual accounts for 2012. It is signed by Gary Waple, the man who registered the “Vote No Borders” domain and who now works for the Regulatory Commission of the Bank of England. Mr Waple states in the 2012 Acanchi Directors’ report:
“The nature of Acanchi’s business is that the award of government contracts is subject to external delays beyond the Company’s control. As stated in last year’s financial statement, the Directors’ forecast that there would be a significant improvement in these financial statements. This was achieved as the result of the company being awarded contracts in the current period which had been the subject of long on-going discussions in the past.”
So what was young Jessica Quiney doing at Acanchi at this period? Well, in 2012 she:
“collated and formatted material promoting the pro-Union arguments in opposition to the SNP’s call for Scottish independence including development of narratives, a positioning strategy and a programme of micro-initiatives for this project.”
In 2013 Jessica was:
“Involved in the development and implementation of a proposal and subsequent micro-initiatives for a campaign supporting the No vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014”.
Vote No Borders had nine adverts in one single edition of the Daily Record newspaper in Scotland this week, each giving the story of a single “grassroots” Scots punter and why they are against independence. These “narratives” were developed by Jessica Quiney, a Cambridge classics student, born in England and educated at Northampton High School. I can see no evidence she has ever been to Scotland. Interestingly the photographer, Claire Borley, who took all the photos of “typical Scots” for the No Borders campaign which are appearing in the newspapers, is also Cambridge based.
Claire Borley’s cv gives a stunning glimpse into just how real and gritty this “Scottish grassroots campaign” is:
Born and raised in Cambridge, my professional life has always been about communication.
After gaining an English degree and jumping in at the deep-end in Bermuda as a PA with limited shorthand but fast typing, I worked in television production in London. Here I built up a wide variety of skills working for the Walt Disney Company, Buena Vista International, Buena Vista Productions, Roger Bolton Productions, Wall to Wall TV and Windfall Films.
After spending a number of years on the production side of a visual industry I felt it was time to develop my own creative abilities. With this in mind I returned to Cambridge and continued to work successfully as a freelance photographer for advertising, editorial and corporate clients as well as private clients, musicians and performers.
My aim is always to capture the personality and essence of the individual moment and make each project unique for the client. This leads to much of my work being used for PR, marketing and multi-media broadcast. I enjoy working below the line (direct mail, flyers etc), above the line (mass media advertising) or through the line (bit of both).
Young Jessica Quiney has done nothing wrong. Despite the fact that Fiona Gilmore, 100% owner of Acanchi, was now by 2012 raking in 100 grand a year in profit, poor Jessica was not even being properly paid – she was an intern, an example of the appalling exploitation of our young generation and the total lack of respect in modern society for the value of labour against capital.
But what cannot be forgiven is the BBC’s extraordinary promotion of VNB as a genuine grassroots organization – in total just under 150 minutes were devoted to showing Gavin Esler’s puff piece on the BBC News Channel, not to mention at least 20 minutes on other BBC news programmes.
It has recently come to light that the UK government has been rocked by private polling costing £56,000 of taxpayers’ money, which shows a major fall in “No” support. It is incredible that the government even thinks it is legitimate to pay with taxes for private polling to be made available to only one side in the referendum campaign. It does make you wonder, what else do they think it is OK to pay for? My strong expectation is that the poll of which news has been leaked is only the latest in a series; polling statistics are the basis of PR strategies such as the one Acanchi has been developing for the No campaign.
I cannot leave the subject of Acanchi without referring to this report that:
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, in October 2008, it was the turn of British firm Acanchi, hired by the foreign minister “to craft the new image” (“Foreign Ministry, PR firm rebrand Israel as land of achievements,” 6 October 2008). The firm’s founder toured Israel as part of the mission “to create a brand disconnected from the Arab-Israeli conflict that focuses instead on Israel’s scientific and cultural achievements.”
I have deep contempt for Fiona Gilmore. To try to create a “brand image” for Israel that leaves out the Palestinians, is the moral equivalent of creating a “brand image” for the Nazis that leaves out the concentration camps. Anyone who can tour Israel as the guest of the Israeli foreign office to that end, is not somebody I would wish to associate with. She is however the ideal partner for Malcolm Offord, the Vote No Borders financier – and major contributor to the Tory Party and to Michael Gove personally – who argues that Britain needs much more drastic cuts to welfare benefits. There must be something about food banks that gladdens the Tory heart. The prospect of not having any in Scotland evidently terrifies them.