The UK government-financed Integrity Initiative, managed by the Institute for Statecraft, is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” programme to challenge Russian information operations. However, it has been revealed that the Integrity Initiative twitter handle and some individuals associated with this programme have also been tweeting messages attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. [i] This takes on special meaning in light of the numerous UK military and intelligence personnel associated with the programme, documented in an important briefing by academics in Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media. [ii]
Several journalists have been named as associated with the Integrity Initiative, either in programme “clusters” or having been invited to an Integrity Initiative event, in the documents that have been posted online. [iii] 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 UK and the Atlantic Council in the US. 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 twitter page states that “we are not ‘anti-Russian’ and do not ‘target’ Mr Corbyn”.[iv] However, before issuing this statement, it has tweeted:
- “Skripal poisoning: It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem”.[v]
- “An alleged British Corbyn supporter wants to vote for Putin”.[vi]
- “’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’”. [vii] This tweet was a quote from an article by Edward Lucas (see below) in the Times,