The U.K.-financed Integrity Initiative, managed by the Institute for Statecraft, is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” program to challenge Russian information operations. However, it has been revealed that the Integrity Initiative Twitter handle and some individuals associated with this program have also been tweeting messages ttacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. This takes on special meaning in light of the numerous U.K. military and intelligence personnel associated with the program, documented in an important briefing by academics in the Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media.
Several journalists have been named as associated with the Integrity Initiative, either in program “clusters” or having been invited to an Integrity Initiative event, in the documents that have been posted online. (For more on this see section 7.1 of this briefing note, the “UK” section of the “Xcountry” document and journalists invited to speak at an Integrity Initiative event in London in November 2018.)
Analysis of 11 of these individuals has been undertaken to assess to what extent their tweets have linked Corbyn unfairly (for a definition see below) to Russia. The results show two things:
- first, the smearing of Corbyn about Russia is more extensive than has been revealed so far;
- second, many of the same individuals have also been attacking a second target – Julian Assange, trying to also falsely link him to the Kremlin.
Many of these 11 individuals are associated with The Times and The Guardian in the U.K. and the Atlantic Council in the U.S. The research does not show, however, that these tweets are associated with the Integrity Initiative (see further below).
Linking Corbyn to Russia
The Integrity Initiative said in a tweet, “we are not ‘anti-Russian’ and do not ‘target’ Mr Corbyn.” However, that tweet was preceded by the following tweets:
- “Skripal poisoning: It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem.”
- “An alleged British Corbyn supporter wants to vote for Putin.”
- “’Mr Corbyn was a ‘useful idiot’, in the phrase apocryphally attributed to Lenin. His visceral anti-Westernism helped the Kremlin cause, as surely as if he had been secretly peddling Westminster tittle-tattle for money.’” This tweet was a quote from an article by Edward Lucas in The Times,“Corbyn’s sickening support of Soviet Empire.”
Here are examples of tweets from the 11 individuals.
Times columnist Edward Lucas has published an article on the Integrity Initiative website and been quoted as saying that his work with the Initiative has not been paid or involved anything improper. (Seesection 7.1.3 of this briefing note.) On Twitter, he has accused Corbyn of having blind spots on Putin’s plutocracy and Kremlin imperialism.”
— Edward Lucas (@edwardlucas) August 26, 2015