Daily Archives: December 22, 2018


Cui Bono? David Leask, Ben Nimmo and the Attack on Ordinary Scottish Nationalists

We know for certain that the Integrity Initiative targets Scottish Nationalists, because two of its luminaries, otherwise unconnected to each other, David Leask and Ben Nimmo, collaborated on a massive attack piece in the Herald identifying individual SNP supporters as “Russian Bots”.

Ben Nimmo works for the Atlantic Council, funded inter alia by NATO. He is also on a retainer of £2,500 per month from the Integrity Initiative, in addition to payments for individual pieces of work. For his attack on Scottish Nationalists Nimmo was therefore paid by the Atlantic Council (your taxes through NATO), by the Integrity Initiative (your taxes) and by the Herald (thankfully shortly going bankrupt). Leask claims to have received nothing but a cheese sandwich from the Integrity Initiative, but has briefed them in detail on Scottish nationalism, attended their seminars, and they have included Leask’s output in their “outcomes” reports to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (on which more in a few days’ time).

I took apart Leask and Nimmo’s horrendous attack at the time, revealing among other things that one of Nimmo’s criteria for spotting a Russian bot or troll was use of the phrase cui bono.

Nimmo’s role as witchfinder-general for Russian Bots appears very remunerative. His August 2016 invoice to The Institute for Statecraft, apparently the 71st invoice he had issued to various neo-con bodies that year, was for £5,000.

It is interesting that rather than sort code and account number, his invoice gives IBAN and BIC, used for payments coming from abroad.

There is a very important aspect of the detailed minute of David Leask’s briefing for the Integrity Initiative, which CommonSpace cut out of the extracts which they published. Leask says that the Integrity Initiative are “pushing at an open door” with the SNP leadership and the editors of The National, who he characterises as reliably anti-Russian and pro-NATO:

YATA – there would probably be a lot of studenty anti-NATO responses. But that might be more of a reason to do it. But SNP reversed NATO policy when it realised what Russia was up to (under influence of Nordic/Baltic allies)
 Mainstream politicians don‟t want to challenge the fringe normally but they’re starting to. Stewart McDonald (defence spokesman) pitching NATO – “friends in Norway, Balts etc are in it”. SNP foreign policy chiefs have very anti-Kremlin, anti-RT, pro-Ukraine rhetoric.
 Immigration not an issue in Scotland.
 Pushing at open door – allies in Scotland about disinformation. Putin may want to sow discord among Scottish nationalists. Pro-independence sister paper had headline complaining Russian trolls attacking Sturgeon. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16094929.SNP_top_brass_warn__Sturgeon_is_being_targeted_by_Kremlin_trolls/
Yes campaign had attacks on servers and cyberactivity, thought it was the Brits but then concluded it was probably Russians. http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendumnews/15771388.Yes_leaders__Don_t_be__naive__about_Russian_online_meddling_in_independence/
 SNP going to Ukraine – to reassure allies they are not pro-Russian.

I am afraid Leask is not wrong. The continual willingness of the SNP leadership to endorse Britnat anti-Russian rhetoric without question is a nagging worry for many nationalists. Precisely the same department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which funds the Integrity Initiative, funds the Westminster Foundation for Democracy which paid for this joint Britnat/SNP leadership group event at the last SNP Conference, featuring a Ukrainian politician also used by the Integrity Initiative.

Read that carefully, and note that it is not just a discussion on the Ukraine – no harm in that – but one which is openly anti-Russian. The very title, on countering Russian disinformation, is literally straight out of the Integrity Initative’s handbook. Two SNP MP’s took part, including the foreign policy spokesman.

Remember that meeting was on the conference fringe at which I was not permitted to hold a meeting on preparing for Indyref II. An awful lot of Nicola loyalists tell me that, in appearing at present to be much more interested in keeping the entire UK in the EU, rather than striking for Scottish Independence, the leadership are playing a brilliant tactical game.

Other explanations are available.

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