The Acanchi Effect 207

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.

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207 thoughts on “The Acanchi Effect

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  • Iain Taylor

    It’s a shame that this person, with her 3 A Levels and Classics degree, had to go on and work as an office junior after graduation. If Acanchi got this person to write the tripe about being “staunchly Scottish”, shame on them for making a fool of the intern and the people used in the photos. If I were a prospective client of Acanchi, I’d be worried that my campaign was being carried out by office juniors which seems to be the case with the Nob Orders. The Government should be demanding our money back from Acanchi on behalf of the taxpayers – we’ve been cheated!

  • Ken

    Fantastic summary of the astroturfing Craig.

    What’s the best way to get this info to everyone, and can the BBC be pressured into issuing a retraction of their puff piece by Essler and others ?

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    Gary Waple Bank of England.

    Rosalind Gilmore

    Very ‘establishment’

    Still wonder whether she and Fiona are related (mother and daughter?) or is Fiona married to a Gilmore??

    Has this been posted before?

    Weekly Wanker #029: Fiona Gilmore
    May 3, 2014


  • John Goss

    The disappearing cv page was a bit like the disappearing notification that there was a US grand jury indictment against Wikileaks and Julian Assange which was quickly removed, as posted yesterday by Arbed.

    These people have no shame and are forever having to cover up because of devious dealings.

    But with the UK government the thing that gets me most is how it is paying (who’s paying) for a Vote No Borders campaign for Scotland when its own border controls are so discriminatory. What good words can anybody find for these clients?

  • craig Post author


    Though I should love to believe it, I couldn’t see a screenshot anywhere of the “momentarily posted” material. It’s not really a story if there’s no evidence.

  • Herbie

    Seems these No Borders and Better Together campaigns are little more than piss poor efforts at the old Colour Revolution trick.

    Victoria Nuland and the gang would have run a much more sophisticated campaign of course, and they had to buy their media in advance.

    Great discussion here of BBC bias on the issue, using Prof Robertson’s work on the matter, with vids of squirming, bullshitting BBC execs:

    “We asked Prof. Robertson whether he had any final remarks about what the whole episode had revealed about his primary research interest: namely, thought control in democracies:

    ‘As a long-term adopter of the Propaganda Model’s usefulness in other contexts, I’ve been naive about its usefulness in Scotland; no longer. It now looks a classic case of thought control enabled by self-censorship within elites and amongst those less powerful that they manage.’ “

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    An aside. I like the Thousand Flowers website. Nicely savage which suits my current mood.

    Excuse the language but this made me laugh. I stood outside my house yesterday waiting for a friend to pick me up. Nearly every car going towards the town was one of these very large 4 wheel drive Chelsea tractors with a solitary woman at the wheel, some just able to see over it. One or two were even using mobiles illegally.

    Thought we could send one to Malcolm Offord but perhaps he is not so flush since departing from Charterhouse Capital.

    Charterhouse with Permira and CVC (Acromas) are involved in the share flotation for Saga. Given a bit of a thumbs down in the Torygraph.

  • Salford Lad

    Watched the video re Julian Assange. I was appalled by the conduct of the woman participant.She appeared to be a plant .’to run interference’ on you ,Craig. You were interrupted and talked over when you tried to get your point across.
    Those who are aware of the false messages by the TPTB regarding , Libya, Syria, and recently Ukraine, know only too well that any truthteller/whistleblower is demonised ,villified and discredited to obfuscate the truth.
    These are all well known propaganda tools as developed by one Edward Louis Bernays and in the arsenal of the Establishment security services.
    Truly the BBC is suborned by the Dark forces of the security state.
    I am surprised you were invited on the programme. They would have known you would not toe the Establishment line.

  • Ba'al Zevul (demoniser)

    What’s country branding, then? Let a country brander explain, with meaningless charts based on empirical assumptions and in an impentrable dialect of bollocks. But there is some meaning here, too.

    We suspect that Israel’s increased respect among Americans has evolved in parallel with the shift of Israel’s own focus from the Palestinians – who do not threaten Americans in any significant way – to the Iranians, whose nuclear course threatens Israel most directly, but also poses a major threat to Iran’s long-proclaimed enemy, the U.S. (This shift from the Palestinians to Iran in US-Israel discussions has been reported in a number of places, including Fox News and NBC News.) In other words, Americans pay much more attention when Israel gives its views about the Iranians than about the Palestinians.

    Out with morality, justice and principle! In with Branding ™ ! Just add Branding ™ to your apartheid state and stand by to collect an annual mountain of cash! Just don’t mention the P(censored).

  • John Goss


    Me neither concerning a screendump only one of an explanation that something had been wrongly posted. And if we asked, or somebody in the US asked, under a freedom of information request it’s unlikely they would make it public. So as you say. No evidence. Pity.

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    Narendra Modi will not be bringing peace and harmony to India judging from this, by setting Hindus against Muslims.

    India Deserves Better Than Modi: ‘The Economist’

    He and BLiar have used the same American image enhancers APCO.

    ‘Beating the War Drum
    Doing public relations for dictatorships is perhaps the more charitable part of Apco’s activities. Apco has a battalion of pro-war lobbyists under its wing. The firm is also a strong advocate of expanding armaments and the US military role in world affairs. In October 2004, Apco and Kissinger Associates (owned by Henry Kissinger) formed a strategic alliance. Beside Kissinger Associates, Apco also built a broad network or coalition of conservative pro-Zionist lobbyists and consultancy groups including Heritage Foundation, Frontier of Freedom, Jewish Policy Center, etc. In the name of war against terror, Apco helped to coordinate government communications to convince the public of the necessity of war. Its job also included manufacturing public opinion and feedback in supporting the war efforts. Basically it exploited Islam-phobia in Western society to sell aggression as the solution to regain security in the West.

    In addition to supporting George Bush, Apco also defended British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s unpopular move to enter the Iraq war. Apco had assisted Tony Blair to consolidate the war alliance. Together with the London-based Foreign Policy Institute, Apco prepared and published the pamphlet, ‘A Global Alliance for Global Values’ in which Blair declared:
    “We must commit ourselves to a complete renaissance of our strategy to defeat those that threaten us.”

    After the invasion of Iraq, Apco swiftly positioned itself to help American companies plunder Iraqi wealth and resources. In May 2003, Apco Worldwide launched a task force headed by Marc Ginsberg, the former US ambassador to Morocco, to help U.S. clients secure contracts for Iraq’s rebuilding.

    Apco is described as a lobby firm that “specialises in helping corporations advance their goals by manipulating legislators, and drafting and advancing model legislation and regulations. Key tools include the creation of business coalitions and fake, corporate-funded ‘grassroots’ groups tailored to specific issues.”

    Recently there was a report published on the importance of finding a legal basis for an attack on Iran. Interestingly the authors, Jeffrey H. Smith and John B. Bellinger III, lawyers at Arnold & Porter, supplied such a basis.’

    ‘MODI Makeover

    Adolf Hitler was a brilliant propagandist. Narendra Modi too believes in the power of image. This is probably why the chief minister hired a US lobbying firm which has serviced clients like former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and President-for-life of Kazakhstan Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev.

    This Washington-based firm, Apco Worldwide, was hired by Modi sometime in August 2007, in the run-up to an important Assembly election, to improve his image before the world community. Among its recent clients are Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Communist youth leader-turned-Russian billionaire with mafia links.

    The firm has a distinction of taking contracts of boosting images of leaders who fell out of favour of their followers.On the face of it Apco Worldwide’s brief is to build and sell Brand Gujarat to the international community. APCO, through its 32 offices across the globe, has been promoting Gujarat as a great investment destination. APCO has also been managing Modi’s own behaviour and projection, for which the cost has been over $25,000 per month since 2007.

    “Although TIME’s cover story is not an endorsement, it contains inaccuracies, half-truths and glaring omission of pertinent details on Mr. Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister. These betray its real objective – an attempt by APCO Worldwide, Modi’s PR firm in Washington DC – to combat negative coverage of their client’s documented connivance in gross human rights violations, in order to project him as a Prime Ministerial candidate,” said Mr. Shaheen Khateeb, President of IAMC.

    “Mr. Narendra Modi as the potential Prime Minister of India is a diplomatic and moral conundrum for the United States and other countries of common human values,” added Mr. Khateeb.’


    Mechanics of Narendra Modi’s PR agency : APCO Worldwide – Orchestrating our Future

  • Phil

    Having long given up on this representative elections codswollop I had not even heard of the English Democrats. They think the BNP too inclusive. How do they get on TV? Anyway, here’s a quick fun quiz for voting enthusiasts.

    Quiz Question

    Which party had the following policies in 1997?

    -No nuclear weapons
    -Free prescriptions
    -Retirement at 55
    -Vote at 16
    -A minimum wage fixed at 100% of MPs’ salaries
    -20 hour working week
    -Release innocent prisoners

    Quiz Answer
    Found here.

    Quiz Lesson
    Loonies, better than Labour.

  • Juteman

    The sad thing is, most ‘ordinary’ Scots folk will not realise how their thinking is being manipulated by the media. I really fear for a Scotland that votes No. Anger can turn very nasty.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    “Narendra Modi will not be bringing peace and harmony to India judging from this, by setting Hindus against Muslims.”

    Yes, and just fancy – it’s one of the much-admired (on this blog, at least)BRICs!!

    If Mary’s prediction is correct, then India looks set to join two of the other three BRICs (Russia and China) as havens of tolerance and justice.

    I’m glad I live in the Evil West and not the Wonderful BRICs 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    “The sad thing is, most ‘ordinary’ Scots folk will not realise how their thinking is being manipulated by the media. I really fear for a Scotland that votes No. Anger can turn very nasty.”

    And there we have – not for the first time on the blog – the get-out clause.

    IF the Scots vote Yes, then it will be because a proud people has acted rationally by choosing to take itds future into its own hands.

    IF, on the other hand, the Scots vote No, then it will have been because their “thinking was manipulated by the media” (a somewhat patronising verdict by Juteman et al, but never mind).

    But a get-out clause with an original and revealing little twist – the hint of violence(“Anger can turn very nasty”). Very democratic, indeed.

  • Anon

    I recall a Nat Scot on here some time ago posting a message to Craig saying something along the lines of “We love what you do, Craig, but stop fucking pretending to be Scottish”.

    Regarding all the Bannockburn bollocks and the apparent obsession with having to be Scottish and living in Scotland to be allowed an opinion on independence (Craig was born and lives in Norfolk), I don’t think it’s ever been put better.

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    The Westminster establishment are doing all they can to put spokes into the wheel.

    ‘The proposed date of Scottish independence should be delayed if it is not in the best interests of the rest of the UK, a House of Lords report has said.

    The recommendation was made by peers on the constitution committee.

    They also said MPs for Scottish seats should not be allowed to negotiate for the rest of the UK on the terms of independence.

    The SNP said the House of Lords was an “undemocratic anachronism”.

    The Scottish government has proposed 24 March 2016 as a realistic date for Scotland’s independence day, which would allow about 18 months for negotiations to be concluded if there is a “Yes” vote in the referendum on 18 September.

    “The prime minister should feel under no obligation to conclude negotiations by March 2016”
    Baroness Jay of Paddington

    Under that timetable, elections scheduled for 5 May 2016 would be the first to an independent Scottish parliament.

    But Labour peer Baroness Jay of Paddington, who chairs the constitution committee, urged the UK government to “put the rest of the UK’s interest first” in the event of independence negotiations.’


    The Constitution Committee
    Lord Goodlad (Chairman)
    Lord Hart of Chilton
    Lord Irvine of Lairg
    Baroness Jay of Paddington
    Lord Lyell of Markyate
    Lord Norton of Louth
    Lord Pannick
    Baroness Quin
    Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank
    Lord Shaw of Northstead
    Lord Wallace of Tankerness
    Lord Woolf

    Register of Interests alphabetically

  • Papadox

    This whole episode and it’s main players are like a sub plot from tinker, taylor, soldier, spy. The mysterious financing, the time line, the BBCs involvement and of course the main “operators” Offord, Gilmore, Wapole and Esler, if they don’t work for the SIS in one of its many guises then I assume they all have a zero hours contract with it.

    The whole VNB operation stinks to the high heaven, and the establishments finger prints are all over it. This rUK is putrid and I don’t want anything to do with it.

  • Anon

    “The sad thing is, most ‘ordinary’ Scots folk will not realise how their thinking is being manipulated by the media. I really fear for a Scotland that votes No. Anger can turn very nasty.”

    Yes, because Juteman knows things so much better than “most ‘ordinary’ Scots”, and if only they could see the truth as he does then they could avoid the anger and nastiness that will follow their decision.

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