Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.(iWN file photo)

By Jomo Sanga Thomas*

(‘Plain Talk’, Dec. 20, 2019)

The election of Trump in 2016, Bolsanaro in Brazil in 2018 and Boris Johnson in the UK last week, has brought to the fore yet again the “triumph” of right-wing populism and the role of dark money in politics. To understand these developments, we highly recommend Jane Mayer’s well-researched book “Dark Money, the hidden history of billionaires behind the rise of the radical right”. In the text, Mayer looked at the many ways in which ideas that were decidedly unpopular with voters gained respectability and, in some cases, tip the electoral scales.

Very rich people, she said, pool their vast resources and fund an interlocking array of organisations that work in tandem to influence and ultimately control mass media, academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress and ultimately the presidency. In turn, all these billions spent to influence political outcome are written off as tax-deductible ‘philanthropy.’

Read on as Caitlin Johnstone reveal how this anti-democratic practice brought Boris Johnson to PM’s office in the UK.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have here at my fingertips indisputable proof that egregious election meddling took place in the United Kingdom on Thursday.

“Before you get all excited, no, it wasn’t the Russians. It wasn’t the Chinese or the Iranians. I am not going to draw in millions of credulous viewers waiting with bated breath for a bombshell revelation of an international conspiracy that will invalidate the results of the election. In fact, hardly anyone will even care because this election interference has been happening right out in the open and was perfectly legal. And nobody will suffer any consequences for it.

“Nobody will suffer any consequences for interfering in the UK election because the ones doing the interfering were extremely powerful, and that’s who the system is built to serve.

“Boris John won a landslide victory. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy.

“This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC.

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description. Journalist Matt Kennard compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security.

“Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media’s attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist, to a Russian asset, to an IRA supporter, to a closet anti-Semite. Recently, The Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target

“Corbyn with a fact-free Russia gate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like The Telegraph as well as ostensibly “left”-wing outlets like The Guardian.

“Just as Corbyn’s advocacy for the many over the super rich minority saw him targeted by billionaire media outlets, his view of Palestinians as human beings saw him targeted by the Israel Lobby; Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of anti Semitism was smeared as an anti-Semite.

“The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn from right wing forces outside, and from within his own party had an effect. If you say this on social media, you will get a ton of comments telling you you’re wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election, had any impact whatsoever upon its results.

“Right. Sure guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people’s minds using mass media, have no effect on their decisions at all. I am not claiming here that the billions of dollars worth of free mass media reporting that was devoted to smearing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party had a greater effect on the election results than Brexit and other strategic stumbles in the party. I’m just saying that it had a much greater effect than the few thousand dollars Russian nationals spent on social media memes in the US, which the American political/media class has been relentlessly shrieking about for three years. To deny that a media smear campaign the size and scope of that directed at Corbyn had an effect is the same as denying that advertising, a trillion-dollar industry, has an effect.

“To accept that dark money influences election outcome, means that the very rich and government agencies indisputably interfered in the British election, to an exponentially greater extent than anything the Russians are even alleged to have done. Yet, according to British law it was perfectly legal, and according to British society, it was perfectly acceptable. It’s perfectly legal and acceptable for powerful individuals to have a vastly greater influence on a purportedly democratic election than any of the ordinary individuals voting in it.

“A free and healthy society would not work this way. A free and healthy society would view all forms of manipulation as taboo and unacceptable. A free and healthy society would not allow the will of members of one small elite class to carry more weight than the will of anyone else. A free and healthy society would give everyone an equal voice at the table and look after everyone’s concerns. It certainly wouldn’t tolerate a few individuals who already have far too much abusing their power and wealth to obtain even more.”

For all the foregoing reasons, we have always been opposed to dark money influence in politics. We have long called for campaign finance reform and call on all our people to exercise vigilance as SVG prepares for the 2020 elections.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

20 replies on “Dark money and democratic elections”

  1. As one who has an open ear on the British Political landscape, which could easily be observed by the various news clips that I post here from that region, I must say, that I have never read a larger collection of contrived baloney than what JOMO has written here.

    The source of his most ridiculous reasoning is that, like Jeremy Corbyn, JOMO belongs to that part of that hard Left brigade, who are finding it extremely hard to get themselves elected in the UK by the so-called Working Class.

    A group of people who once supported the Left in the 1960’s and then lent their support to Tony Blair once he had moved away from the far left politics of Michael Foot and Tony Benn and embraced what was then known as Thatcherism.

    Why even Tony Blair former this Labour Prime Minister, and his former chief of communication had advised their supporters to vote against Corbyn. Needless to say, that the former chief of communication for Blair’s Labour Party was thrown out of the Corbyn party by Corbyn and his team!

    The fact of the matter for Corbyn, the British so-called working class, unlike the very dunce mass we have here in SVG who parade themselves in red and wave their red flags about, they saw through the undeliverable promises of Jeremy Corbyn and voted for reality.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7821153/Ex-Labour-MP-Laura-Pidcock-blames-Tony-Blair-election-defeat.html

    “Ex-Labour MP and Jeremy Corbyn ally Laura Pidcock is mocked after she claims the party was crushed at the general election because of Tony Blair.”

  2. Just get real JOMO! Offers of Rum, Steak with Rice and Peas for all, and no viable work or jobs planning as is put forward by the so-called socialist Left, only works to “vote success” with dunce people like those who first put Chavez and Ralph Gonsalves in power.

    What voters in the more educated West know, is that Stalinism and communism only delivers loss of liberty and extensive poverty. The examples of SVG, CUBA and Venezuela are good enough for us.

    As to “Brother Jeremy Corbyn”; “The failings of Labour’s disastrous election strategy have been laid bare after leaked documents revealed Jeremy Corbyn’s senior aides channeled money and volunteers to unwinnable Tory-held constituencies rather defending vulnerable Labour seats”. So stop peddling rubbish!

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7819399/Leaked-documents-lay-bare-failings-led-Labours-disastrous-election-defeat.html

    Perhaps when dunce Vincentians become a little more educated, and the blinkers are taken off their eyes, the bogus offer of “strong Rum, Steak with Rice and peas for all”, regardless or work ethic, will be seen for what it is, truly bogus, and may be then, we would see the back of all of these so-called Socialist mantra here in SVG, foolish mantras that is so often repeated by halfwits looking for something for nothing.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2019/12/el-salvador-nayib-bukele-gang-violence-corruption-china-191220003434260.html

    Prosperity we should know will only come through our own industriousness and not through some unworkable socialist utopia! Time to get real JOMO and be part of the solution! Socialism and communism is utterly obsolete and out of date.

  3. Throughout history the rich have always taken advantage of the masses. Things have not changed, but in several countries the people are fighting back to demand justice and remove these oligarchy from power. They have money invested in military companies that supply war material to poor dumb dictators all over the world. There is money in conflict and the rich make heavy investments and reap millions.
    Meanwhile the poor suffer and live in poverty and are forced to survive in desperate conditions. We to see the results of what’s happening in Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria and several other in countries in African and the Middle East.
    There is no break in Wall Street investment vehicles because they cover all aspects of human involvement, sufferings and existence. The way money is moved around it covers everything and a loss today on an investment is a gain tomorrow on another.
    The SVG way of controlling the population is by using galvanize, cement and lumber as gifts to dumb and political illiterates.
    Ironically, it does last because people power fights back as I’ve pointed out earlier because, “You can fool some of the people sometimes, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time” or words to that effect.
    A very good and informative article. Boris Johnson will not last very long, because leaving the EU will definitely cause a loss in business and the British economy.

  4. Jomo talks of “right wing” populism but fails to mention that Obama was also elected because of “left wing” populism. Jomo mentions Trump. It is true that Trump is far more popular than Hillary Clinton as well as any of the Democrats running presently. The truth is that the most “popular” person always wins. Isn’t that how it works…how it is supposed to work? It is a fact that Hillary Clinton cheated on the 2016 election. That was not only proven during the recounts afterwards that Trump actually won by a greater margin than originally thought, but Hillary also cheated in the primaries against Bernie Sanders, a big-time socialist that was far more popular than Hillary!. Why doesn’t socialist Jomo mention that?
    Jeremy Corbin lost primarily because the British want Brexit ;and most of then don’t want Jeremy Corbin. Jomo has to come to grips with the fact that Corbin lost fair and square and stop looking for some other reason because he does not like the results, or is Jomo becoming a liberal snowflake buttercup now as well as a socialist?

  5. Jomo mentions the Mass Media effect. What about Trump?
    It is a known fact that the Deep State corrupt Media hates Trump. Yes! the media plays a big role in people’s opinion. Vincentians are positive that Trump is a racist although there is no evidence of this. In fact, Trump has done far more for African Americans than Obama ever did. The Democrats have always been against blacks and have tried to keep them in poverty for generations. Trump is lifting hundreds or thousands of blacks out of poverty. The media fails to mention this but the USA is not like Saint Vincent. Blacks in the USA are swarming to support Trump IN SPITE OF THE MASS MEDIA ATTACK AGAINST TRUMP!
    The mass media effect is not working against Trump. In spite of some of his faults, Trump will win the next Presidential Election and the vote cheaters, haters, warmongers as well as Socialists and Liberals like Jomo have to learn to deal with it. Jomo has to realize tht there are many people that do not want to pay high taxes and live in poverty for the glory of socialism.

    1. WHAT SPEAKING ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICANS & TRUMP,HILLARY,SANDERS & OBAMA HAS TO DO WITH POLITICS IN S V G ??? PLEASE EXPLAIN FOR I AM AT A LOSS

      1. Garfield you really are at a loss. Did you read the article? Was Jomo talking about politics in SVG? He was talking about politics ELSEWHERE. He even mentions Brazil, Iran and China. If you think he was mentioning politics in SVG, Yes! you are at a loss! First read his article then read my comment where I say: “Jomo forgot to mention…”and then you will understand.

  6. If it doesn’t fit in with the Communist Manifesto or the socialist values that they hold they just rewrite accordingly! This has always been the way with the Communist, the so-called socialist and the liberal left.

    A report says that “China will rewrite the Bible and Quran to ‘reflect socialist values’ amid crackdown on the country’s religious groups, a report has revealed. New editions must not contain any content that goes against the beliefs of the Communist Party, according to a top party official. Paragraphs deemed wrong by the censors will be amended or re-translated”.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7824541/China-rewrite-Bible-Quran-reflect-socialist-values.html

    Just change the facts or tell the story to fit-in with a twisted understanding of the world. In this case truth is what they make it out to be. Does this not remind us of Orwell’s Book 1984?

    In which “Orwell effectively explores the themes of mass media control, government surveillance, totalitarianism and how a dictator can manipulate and control history, thoughts, and lives in such a way that no one can escape it”. Is JOMO changing the facts here to fit his disposition too?
    https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2016/may/29/1984-george-orwell-review

  7. What we must all remember is that Jomo having attacked the fabric of the Gonsalves/Francis family dynasty and their ULP owned political party, is afraid of Cuban revenge.

    SVG is currently under the control of Cuba through its owned Vincentian politicians. Jomo has to show the Cubans he is siding with them if he wants to continue to even stay alive in SVG. Otherwise he will be joining the others, dead or disappeared.

    So this collection of communist crap that Jomo has presented here should be disregarded, and is a good reason for shunning Jomo politically, socially, and professionally.

    Jomo each piece of rubbish you write like this puts yet another nail in you coffin in SVG. Eventually you may have to return to the US to practice your law profession, and stay alive even.

  8. Don’t make me laugh SKECKPALMER. What make you such an expert on the British people and the British Economy? By writing “Boris Johnson will not last very long, because leaving the EU will definitely cause a loss in business and the British economy.” What survey have you conducted up there in the UK?

    From what I have gathered, and quote;“Voters ditched Labour over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and neutral Brexit stance, reveals poll of 2017 supporters who defected this year.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7826295/Voters-ditched-Labour-Jeremy-Corbyns-leadership-neutral-Brexit-stance-poll-says.html And from real expert analysis, quote;

    “Britain will remain a dominant global economy after Brexit, analysis suggests. Brexit ‘will not damage UK’s status in the world’: Britain will remain a dominant global economy and will streak ahead of France and overhaul Germany, long-term analysis suggests.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7826919/Britain-remain-dominant-global-economy-Brexit-new-analysis-suggests.html

    JOMO’s idea of “Dark Money and political influence, is nothing but sour grapes on his part, because more and more people in the western world, are seeing what the liberal-left is all about and are ditching them for real world reality, especially with glaring examples to look at such as the Cuba’s and Venezuela’s to go by. In Venezuela’s case, seeing that this once rich country has now turned itself into a basket case of poverty and want.

    In the UK Jeremy Corbyn desire to return to the failed nationalization policies of the fifties and sixties and his failure to honour his past commitment to deliver the democratic mandate of the people on BREXIT was no doubt part of his resounding undoing.

    The Liberal-Left love to talk about democracy, yet they for their part, are the least democratic of people, as is now being experienced here in SVG, to which JOMO himself is very much a part of. What ever happened to that FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL we could well ask of him?

    In the UK, the Liberal Party there, had fought the General Election on the stance that if successful in the Election, they would immediately cancel BREXIT, and the Left, in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, was refusing to say if he and his party would honour the people’s previous vote to leave Europe. A comitment to honour the peoples choice that he had previously made. A refusal then some three years after that vote to leave.

    In SVG, a disputed election result and the challenge to it, are being frustrated some four years on, by a ruling family regime with close ties to both the Cuban and the Venezuelan regimes. These are some of the doings of the Liberal-Left who claim to love democracy. From their behaviour we know that their form of democracy carries an unhealthy Stalinist and totalitarianism stamp and possible an alarming number of guns and Jackboots too.

  9. Gulag History and the truth about JOMO, JEREMY CORBYN, RALPH GONSALVES and the Liberal Left as explained here by Peter Whittle.

    Peter Whittle sits down with author and historian Giles Udy to discuss the themes explored in his book “Labour And The Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdqEg1OUM6M

    Vincentians be warned, be seriously warned! These men are but are wolves in sheep clothings.

  10. [..], with all due respect. Are you aware of Black (African) History in the United States of America? Or in the world? Obama may not have been perfect but if he was anywhere as arrogant, selfish or racist as his successor he would have been impeached and convicted. From your comment (above) it appears to me that you misunderstand Racism or how it works. Maybe I don’t either but what I see 365 days per year on TV is blacks living in misery all over Africa and images of starving children appealing for help from the West (US, Europe, Australia, Canada). Let us not forget how Adolf Hitler used propaganda to turn the Germany people against the European Jewish population. Nowadays if you as much as to say ha about jews you are deemed, almost automatically, Antisemite. Why? But, have you ever looked closely at what is going on in Gaza and the West-bank? Finally, in this secular discussion, I guess all opinions are taken into account.

  11. “blacks living in misery all over Africa and images of starving children appealing for help from the West (US, Europe, Australia, Canada)” And whose fault is that “R,” whose? By the way you left out pot-bellied!

    Aid agencies put forward those images in order to raise money and they do rake in bundles of it. Why, even our own Government here in SVG collect Grant Aid on those very images. Images of want, hunger and destitution.

    Moreover, have you ever investigated the large salaries of the bosses of those Aid Agencies? Or the abuses their workers carryout in the countries where they deliver the aid?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/18/world/americas/haiti-un-peacekeepers.html

    From third world exploitation and slavery came racism based on skin colour, leading to poor education and lack of self-worth on the part of the exploited and further domination of one group over the other. Vincentians are the perfect example of such. JOMO sees only what he wants to see and stuffs what he sees into his obsolete utopian, now outdated Karl Marxian socialist ideology.

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