- Intentions to run a smear campaign against the opposition
- Attempts to mislead the campus media in emails
- Accusations of moles on both sides
New information has come to light regarding campaign tactics from the ‘No’ side of the YUSU Working Class officer referendum. Their meeting minutes reveal plans to run a smear campaign against Connor Drake, one of two campaign coordinators for the ‘Yes’ side of the motion to introduce a Working Class and Social Mobility Part Time Officer.
Minutes show that underhanded tactics have once again worked their way into the group’s priorities, despite the record stating that official rules should “remain within the bounds of legal campaigning” earlier in the meeting.
Furthermore, the ‘No’ campaign also contained the imperative to “encourage class war” as a statement within itself, with no other context given. As a result, concerns have been raised to Nouse that the ‘No’ campaign wants to highlight differences to social classes in order to win the referendum at any cost.
The final section of the minutes is primarily concerned with “digging up dirt about Connor” (due to context, believed to be referring to Connor Drake).
They “alleged [Drake] said Livingstone was correct” in regards to the comments that Ken Livingstone made resulting in his Labour party suspension earlier this year. Their source was Facebook screenshots from July 2017. Drake’s comments on a poll, where he shared a transcript of Livingstone’s statements, received a reply with an expression of distaste, which resulted in Drake claiming he was misled and apologising. The commenter replied again, this time with a link citing the rules of the Facebook page (which ask that group members do not delete their comments), which caused Drake to re-evaluate his actions further. He stated: “Sorry, I wasn’t aware of this. I’ll be mindful in the future.”
The closing statement from the meeting, according to the record that was leaked to Nouse, was the motion (which was “agreed and condoned”) to take the action “to dig up dirt on [Drake] and leak it [to] various press organisations”.
The return of mud-slinging tactics coming two days after Nouse reported on attempts to “spy” on the ‘Yes’ campaign foreshadows a dramatic debate on the Monday of Week 7, particularly as screenshots of the group chat reveal discussion regarding the optimum timing for the proposed attack article against Drake.
One person asked, “Do you want the piece about Connor to come out ASAP or just before the debate?”. They then followed with the offer, “Or at the start of voting[?]”
The reply in the discussion signalled the desire for optimum damage, the response being “Depends if he’s speaking in the debate. If he is, let’s not give [a] chance for them to pull him out.”
Nouse has also received information stating that, following discussion regarding the proposed smear campaign, the meeting minutes had been removed so that some of the information can be edited and changed.
When the ‘No’ campaign were contacted for comment, Nouse were instead contacted by a Hotmail email address, the account holder’s name being listed as “Some Guy”. The sender, claiming to be from the ‘Yes’ campaign, stated that they had “become increasingly disgruntled with [their] own campaigns leader, and his campaigns tactics”, going on to share that the ‘Yes’ campaign “had placed ‘moles’ within the opposition side and were actively trying to spread falsehoods about them and leak them to the press”.
It was confirmed to Nouse that the email had been sent by a member of the ‘No’ campaign, the source having immediately disaffiliated themselves from the anti-Working Class Officer team as a direct result of this misinformation attempt. However, when asked, the leader of the ‘No’ side Dominique Samuels claimed that they were unaware of any such email being sent.
Connor Drake provided the following statement regarding the entire affair:
“I would like to publicly rescind the comment I made on Young Lefty Society in July 2017. I have regretted the comment ever since posting it, and I sincerely apologise if I have caused any offence. I based the comment on a discussion I had with someone in college, and I have since realised this was incorrect information and I have learnt from this. Again, I am truly sorry for my comment.”
Michaela Tharby, his fellow ‘Yes’ campaign coordinator, also asked for the opportunity to comment:
“I want to tackle this head on. I am incredibly proud of my Jewish heritage and know firsthand how vile anti-Semitism can be. The fact that the ‘No’ side have attempted to smear my good friend through petty allegations of that sort of behaviour is horrifying and undermines all of the genuine hatred I, and other Jewish people, face every day.”
Dominique Samuels, a leader of the ‘No’ campaign in the referendum, also stated:
“Our campaign has been repeatedly infiltrated by those that wish to portray us in a bad light, which is ironic seeing as we are the ones who are being constantly spied upon by those pretending to agree with our cause.
“The allegations against us are grossly exaggerated, all because of a personal bias. We do not advocate class warfare, this is something that Connor Drake has reportedly expressed in numerous Facebook posts. It is something we are vehemently against, which is why we are against a Working Class Officer.
“From the evidence we have gathered, we believe smear campaign is inaccurate as that implies the allegations aren’t correct. It is important that the comments and the support of communist Russia that Connor Drake has reportedly expressed time and time again, which is in itself worrying, are brought to light.
“Our campaign is committed to holding those who seek to divide our student body to account, and we shall make that clear both in the debates and in our campaigning, despite the sabotage that has been used to discourage us.”
YUSU’s Policy Coordinator, Jack Harvey, was also contacted for comment.