The SNP has called on its political rivals to reveal their connections with Cambridge Analytica after Nicola Sturgeon’s party put all its communication with the firm in the public domain.
In a move aimed at halting the constant spread of smear stories being promoted by Scotland’s media outlets, the SNP released all email communications it had with the firm.
Communications with Cambridge Analytica began in 07th February 2016 with an email from an SNP official who expressed an interest in speaking with the firm.
The official, Chris Jones, then had what the party described as a “ping-pong of emails” resulting in a meeting being set up in London. However according to the SNP: “Alarm bells rang when Cambridge Analytica sent us a Non Disclosure Agreement to sign from a company called SCL Elections Limited. It was odd in the sense it came from a completely different company from that which we had been corresponding with.”
According to newspaper reports, Strategic Communications Laboratories is the parent company of the Cambridge Analytica, and was founded by a Conservative MP.
A director of the company is also reported to have donated £700,000 to the Conservative party. In March the UK Government admitted that SCL had once been awarded a contract with the MoD.
The SNP statement added: “We started asking the same questions everyone else is asking now. We didn’t sign it. And it’s now in the hands of the Information Commissioner.
“Kirk Torrance went to the meeting at the firm’s Mayfair HQ on 18th February 2016. He reported back his verdict.”
According to Mr Torrance, Cambridge Analytica were “a bunch of snake oil-selling cowboys!”. The consultant told the SNP not to touch the firm with a barge pole. The party heeded the advice.
That, according to the SNP, was the first and last meeting with the firm that has since been at the centre of controversy over its harvesting of personal data using Facebook.
Despite the firm continuing to send emails to the SNP, the party refused to respond, saying: “But, they kept emailing and calling – we still didn’t reply and they wouldn’t take the hint.
“The facts remain the same. The SNP have never worked with Cambridge Analytica, used any of their services or paid them a penny.
The SNP has now called on focus to turn on the Conservative party: “With publication of documents, it’s time to focus on unearthing the plethora of Tory ties to Cambridge Analytica, SCL Elections, and AggregateIQ.
“The SNP is the only party to have been up front, the other parties now need to come clean about Cambridge Analytica’s continuing assertion to have ‘spoken with representatives of every major UK political party’.”
The statement, posted on social media, was accompanied by a photograph of former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron posing alongside Julian Wheatland. Mr Wheatland is Chairman of the board of SCL Group, which The Times and The Guardian have reported as being the ‘parent company’ of Cambridge Analytica.
Following the release of the emails by the party, several SNP politicians called on other political parties to do the same.
Carol Monaghan MP tweeted: “This is what transparency looks like: complete disclosure of the correspondence between Cambridge Analytica and SNP. I expect other political parties will be following our example imminently. Any….minute….now……………”
Her colleague, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf aimed a swipe at Ruth Davidson’s party, saying: “SNP release communications between us and Cambridge Analytica – complete transparency. Will the Tories do the same? Will they hell.”
Despite never having worked with Cambridge Analytica and having dismissed them as “cowboys” from the outset, the SNP has come under attack from Scotland’s main stream media. The party has endured days of innuendo based smears at the hands of newspaper journalists and broadcast reporters, with articles and reports that sought to link the party to the firm.
SNP supporters will be watching to see if Scottish media attention now turns to Ruth Davidson’s Conservative party and whether the Scottish Tory leader will face any questions over her own party’s widely reported links to Cambridge Analytica.
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