Strategic Communication Laboratories

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SCL Group[1] (formerly Strategic Communication Laboratories) is a private British behavioural research and strategic communication company. In the United States, SCL has gained public recognition mainly through its affiliated corporation Cambridge Analytica.[2] It performs data mining and data analysis on its audience. Based on results, communications will be specifically targeted to key audience groups to modify behaviour in accordance with the goal of SCL's client. The company describes itself as a "global election management agency".[3] London-based SCL was founded by Nigel Oakes who serves as its CEO.[4]

History

In 1990, Nigel Oakes, who had a background in TV production and advertising, founded the Behavioural Dynamics Institute (BDI) as a research facility for strategic communication. The study of mass behaviour and how to change it led him to establish Strategic Communication Laboratories in 1993. Oakes thought that in order to shift mass opinion, academic insights as gained through psychologists and anthropologists at BDI should be applied, and would be more successful than traditional advertising methods.[5] BDI became a non-profit affiliate of SCL.

Conservative Party links

Sir Geoffrey Pattie, a former Conservative MP and the Defence Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, is President of the SCL Group. Pattie also co-founded Terrington Management which lists BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin among its clients.

One of the company’s directors’ is wine millionaire and former British special forces officer in Borneo and Kenya, Roger Gabb, who in 2006 donated £500,000 to the Conservative Party.

Gabb was also fined by the Electoral Commission for failing to include his name on an advert in a number of local newspapers arguing for a Leave vote in the Brexit referendum.

SCL’s links to the Conservative Party continues through the company’s chairman and venture capitalist Julian Wheatland. He also happens to be chairman of Oxfordshire Conservative Association.

The organisation has also been funded by Jonathan Marland who is the former Conservative Party Treasurer, a trade envoy under David Cameron, and a close friend of Tory election strategist Lynton Crosby.

Property tycoon and Conservative party donor Vincent Tchenguiz was also the single largest SCL shareholder for a decade.

Meanwhile, another director is Gavin McNicoll, founder of counter-terrorism Eden Intelligence firm who ran a G8 Plus meeting on Financial Intelligence Cooperation at the behest of the British government.

Previous board members include Sir James Allen Mitchell, the former Prime Minister of the previous British colony St Vincent and the Grenadines. Mitchell has been a Privy Counsellor on the Queen’s advisory board since 1985.

The British military and royal establishment links to SCL are further highlighted through another director Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, a former assistant director of naval warfare in the Ministry of Defence and aide de camp to the Queen.

The Queen’s third cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, was also sitting on SCL’s advisory board but it’s unclear if he still holds that role.

The above examples barely scrape the surface of just how deep the ties go between the UK defence establishment and Strategic Communication Laboratories.

Indeed, it seems evident that the organisation is a product of murky alliances formed between venture capitalists and former British military and intelligence officers. Unsurprisingly, they also happen to be closely tied to the higher echelons of the Conservative Party.[6]

Activities

After an initial commercial success, SCL expanded into military and political arenas. It became known for alleged involvement "in military disinformation campaigns to social media branding and voter targeting".[7] According to its website, SCL has participated in over 25 international political and electoral campaigns since 1994.

SCL’s involvement in the political arens has been primarily in the developing world where it has been used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will. It uses what have been called psy ops to provide insight into the thinking of the target audience. SCL claimed to be able to help foment coups.[8] According to its website, SCL has influenced elections in Italy, Latvia, Ukraine, Albania, Romania, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Colombia, Antigua, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago. While the company initially got involved in elections in the United Kingdom, it ceased to do so after 1997 because staff members did not exhibit the same "aloof sensibility" as with projects abroad.

SCL claims that its methodology has been approved or endorsed by agencies of the Government of the United Kingdom and the Federal government of the United States, among others.[9]

Cambridge Analytica

SCL formed Cambridge Analytica (CA) to participate in the election process in the United States.[10] It entered the US market in 2012, and was involved in 44 US congressional, US Senate and state-level elections in the 2014 mid-term elections. In 2015 it was disclosed that the company had entered the Republican Party presidential primaries for the 2016 election, primarily in support of Ted Cruz. CA is heavily funded by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major supporter of Cruz and then Donald Trump, and is now under investigation by both the UK and the US governments.

External links

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Trump, Assange, Bannon, Farage… bound together in an unholy allianceOp-ed29 October 2017Carole Cadwalladr(You got this? Farage visited Trump, then Assange, then Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher met Don Trump’s Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Then Assange. And is now trying to close the circle with Trump.)


References

  1. "SCL GROUP LIMITED - Overview". Companies House website=beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. 
  2. Sellers, Frances Stead (2015-10-19). "Cruz campaign paid $750,000 to ‘psychographic profiling’ company". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-07. 
  3. "SCL Group - Home". 
  4. "Trump Data Gurus Leave Long Trail of Subterfuge, Dubious Dealing". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  5. Sasha Issenberg (November 12, 2015). "Cruz-Connected Data Miner Aims to Get Inside U.S. Voters' Heads". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 2, 2016. 
  6. "SCL – a Very British Coup"
  7. Vogel, Kenneth P (July 7, 2015). "Cruz partners with donor's 'psychographic' firm". Politico. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 
  8. Weinberger, Sharon (September 19, 2005). "You Can't Handle the Truth". Slate. Retrieved March 19, 2018. 
  9. "SCL Elections - Home". [dead link]
  10. Cadwalladr, Carole (26 February 2017). "Robert Mercer: The big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media". theguardian.com. The Observer. 
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