First, the US blamed Russian hackers for Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss, a narrative which continues to reverberate with the relentless crusade by both the WaPo and NYT against “fake news.” then Germany preemptively blamed Russia for a potential loss by Angela Merkel in the upcoming elections: as we reported last night, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is reporting a “striking increase” in Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns aimed at destabilizing German society, and targeted cyber attacks against political parties.
Now, it’s the UK’s turn.
According to a former Labour Member of Parliament, Russian hackers “probably” swayed the EU referendum vote in favor of Brexit. Because – as is all too clear by now – when all else fails, and one needs a scapegoat that is too amused to respond to silly allegations, just blame the Russians.
As SkyNews reports, leading Remain campaigner Ben Bradshaw has joined the parade, and questioned the validity of the stunning June result, claiming people were underestimating the extent of cyber warfare by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was not exactly clear how Putin “hacked” the UK, or the millions who voted for Brexit, but we’ll let that slide for now.
His extraordinary claim came in an emergency Commons debate on the latest developments in Syria, where President Bashar Assad’s Russian-backed forces have been storming the city of Aleppo.
Luckily, and unlike in the US, Bradshaw’s allegation was given short shrift by Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, who responded: “I have not come across any evidence that Russian cyber warfare was used to influence the referendum. Unfortunately, in America, where there is the same amount of “evidence”, this particular conspiracy theory is all the rage.
Bradshaw, dismissed as a “Remoaner” by Leave campaigners, told MPs: “I don’t think we have even begun to wake up to what Russia is doing when it comes to cyber warfare. Not only their interference, now proven, in the American presidential campaign, probably in our own referendum last year.”
Proven? Where? Oh rather, he – like the NYT – believes that if you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the “truth.” Well, both the WaPo and the NYT are still going for it, so it may yet work.
Paradoxically Bradshaw, finding himself in the same sticky situation as Americans who have accused the Kremlin of stealing Hillary’s victory, admitted that “we don’t have the evidence for that yet”, but then followed up with the even more brilliant “but I think it’s highly probable.” Just don’t call it a conspiracy theory.
The paranoid Brit wasn’t done, and predicted that cybersamurai Putin not only stole the Brexit vote, but would make sure Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential election:
“Certainly in the French presidential election, they will be involved, and there are already serious concerns in the German secret service that Russia is already interfering in the elections coming up.”
His conclusion: “We’ve got to wake up to this.”
Curiously, he wasn’t the only Brit who appears to have lost his sense amid the global “Russian propaganda/fake news” disinformation campaign. Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said there was “a disturbing pattern” of allegations against Russia around cyber warfare.
He pointed to examples in Bulgaria, the referendum in the Netherlands and its continuing pressure on the Baltic states.
But Mrs May’s spokesman said on Mr Bradshaw’s claim: “The referendum was run in this country, it was a very clear vote and we are now getting on with delivering on the will of the people to take Britain out of the European Union.”
In light of recent developments, one is almost shocked that sane voices can still be heard.