On Thursday night, Channel 4 news featured video of an undercover reporter working in a call centre run by Blue Telecoms on behalf of the Tories, showing activity involving apparent breaches of electoral and data protection law as the Tory party attempted to swing key marginal seats in its favour in the recent General Election.
The SKWAWKBOX has exclusively obtained text messages sent out by Blue Telecoms to one of its call-centre workers over a period of around five weeks of the General Election campaign – texts which:
- show how much money the Tories were prepared to throw at this campaign, with hourly rates far in excess of typical call-centre rates, as the SKWAWKBOX’s source made clear
- appear to show an increasing desperation on the part of Blue Telecom (and therefore the Tories) to get more workers and longer hours as polling showed Corbyn closing the voting intention gap
- show the Tories resuming campaigning via Blue Telecoms after Jeremy Corbyn forced their hand by resuming Labour’s campaign on Friday (they had originally wanted to wait until the following Monday) following the Manchester terror attack and when their campaign was still officially suspended after the London terror attack
- appear to contain an inadvertent admission that the company was engaged in paid campaigning, rather than market research
Text 1: 1 May – induction
Text 2: 16 May – the launch
This text advises that calling is to begin, although Text 1 suggests that at least some calling had commenced 2 weeks earlier
Text 3: 23 May – suspension after Manchester attack
Text 4: 26 May – the resumption
On Friday May 26, Blue Telecom was eagerly trying to persuade staff to come in the following day, offering £12/hr – the company’s Facebook page makes clear that this is only applicable for shifts of 12 hours.
Crucially, this shows that the Tories only announced on Friday 26/5 that their campaign would resume – the day Labour restarted theirs. Corbyn had forced their hand by his insistence that Labour would not let terrorists hold up the campaign further.
Text 5: 3 June – we’ll pay you more if you’ll come in – and cover your travel costs
In the last few days of campaigning – at the same time that emergency Tory emails were frantically being sent to supporters begging them to help campaigning, as the Tories realised how much trouble they were in – Blue Telecoms increased the hourly rate in a bid to get staff to attend and even offered to pay their travel expenses.
Text 6: 4 June – campaigning suspended again (briefly)
At 8.01am on the morning after the London Bridge/Borough Market terror attack, Blue Telecoms contacted works to advise that campaigning was again suspended – briefly, as we’ll see below.
However, in the heat of the moment, Blue Telecoms calls its work ‘campaigning’ – and paid campaigning is a major electoral law no-no.
Text 7: more bribes – you’ll get the higher rate even if you don’t work 12hrs
At 10.24 on the morning of the final Sunday of the campaign it was all change again and campaigning was resuming – even though none of the main parties were officially restarting their campaigns until the following day.
Blue Telecoms was still offering a higher hourly rate and travel expenses to those who would come in to man the pumps – and had now waived the ’12-hour shift’ requirement to qualify for the higher rate, in its eagerness to increase numbers for its Tory paymasters.
These intriguing text messages offer a candid view of the ups, downs and acceleration of the Tory campaign via one of its most controversial – and allegedly illegal – manifestations.
And they depict an increasing urgency, even a panic, among the Tories as the realisation dawned of the colossal, self-inflicted disaster that they were facing.
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