Green Gail and the Technocratic Industrialists: Citizens Online’s Digitopian Nightmare

This is part 3 of a series of articles entitled ‘Astroturfing the way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.
Here are the links to the other parts:

0) Introduction:­ Some Inconvenient Truths about Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Mobilisation movement
1) Dr Gail Marie Bradbrook: Compassionate Revolutionary… for hire?
2) Political Charities and the Brave New World of Professional Activism
4) Extinction Rebellion and the Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
5) #XRSpaceJunk 5G & Citizens Online: Industry Agents, Digital Acolytes and State Agitators

Gail in the IPPR ‘Digital Manifesto’ steering group [link].
Much more on IPPR to come, in Red Gail and the Creation of New Labour.

Shortly before her tour-of-duty at the IPPR[*] helping to write strategic policy papers for Tony Blair’s government [1], Gail joined J. D. Fisher’s ‘Citizens Online’ charity.

[*] The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is a ‘leading think-tank’, often accused of Labour party ‘bias’ [2]. In reality, it’s more like the tail that wags the dog – an industry proxy, set-up by Lord Eatwell [3] and Lord Hollick [4]and populated almost exclusively by intelligence assets and representatives of spooky corporate entities [5] such as the RAND corporation [6]. In other words, the kind of people who buy, use and throw away ‘our’ politicians like we do toilet roll.

Citizens Online is a curious charity, founded in 2000 and boasting an unlikely mix of international oil barons, tech oligarchs, academics, two former MP’s, a ‘lord of the realm’ [7] and a sprinkling of rising talent from the world of ‘digital culture’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one). A few days after we first began to draw attention to some of the obvious contradictions in the official story of Dr Gail Bradbrook, her profile on the Citizens Online website, which mentioned some of her more suspect associations, either mysteriously vanished or was taken down on her request.

Thankfully, it’s still in the archives [link]… oh, actually it seems to have been purged from there also, as well as from Google’s cache.

Good job we backed it up then!

Gail joins Citizen Online in 2003 as “Director of Strategy & Partnerships”. She deals with the charity’s industry and government partners – working in both public and private sectors as a “digital inclusion strategy specialist”, consulting “a wide range of clients such as EE and the Cabinet Office.” As we showed in our previous article, she was also involved in pressuring local authorities and government departments to ‘Get IT Together’ with regards to their compliance with the ‘Digital Inclusion Agenda’. The charity targets areas and communities that the infrastructure providers (who fund her) feel are at risk of ‘digital exclusion’, meaning not enough uptake of their products/services.

Citizens Online, the corporate entities that fund them, and the underlying academic-intelligence apparatus that created their operational ‘niche’ will be elucidated more in the strand entitled ‘Digital Citizenship in the New Dark Age’. Over the next couple of releases, we’ll be investigating some of the characters involved in Citizens Online, as well as going through excerpts from their documents, those authored/co-authored by Gail herself, or by others shortly before her involvement – so that we can get a flavour of the highly political pseudo-charity which has buttered Gail’s bread (if not her brains) for nearly two decades now.

J. D. Fisher’s introduction to the ‘Realising Democracy Online (2001)’ [here] – one of their earliest documents.

Here are the kind of things the newly formed Citizens Online were busying themselves with back in 2001, just before Gail decided (or was seconded from BITC) to join in with their activities:

This is a period of definition for the communications industry and its influence on society at large (…) naturally mistrusted and spurned by many of the independent-minded and wary electors who form its intended audience. Responses to this state of affairs through media regulation would be inappropriate for a society committed to freedom of expression…

The situation calls for deliberate and imaginative institution-building… the creation of a new organisation, publicly funded but independent from government, to encourage and report upon a wide range of exercises in electronic democracy. Its remit would be to foster new forms of public involvement in civic affairs through interactive and other appropriate means…

The agency would be charged to elicit, gather, and coordinate citizens’ deliberations upon and reactions to problems faced and proposals issued by public bodies.

‘Realising Democracy Online, A Civic Commons In Cyberspace [local] [source]‘ co-authored by Jay Blumler & Stephen Coleman, with a foreword by J. D. Fisher; published jointly by IPPR & Citizens Online, shortly before Gail joined the charity.

What we appear to have here is Citizens Online coming into existence and creating their niche within the world of professional ‘activism’, by calling for a new organisation, ‘publicly funded but independent from government’, with the express purpose of helping the ‘communications industry’ to protect and consolidate its ‘influence on society’… because ‘democracy’, we presume?

And how do they propose to achieve this?

Harbingers of ‘Digital Democracy’

By using new forms of ‘imaginative institution-building’ to…

Elicit and coordinate reactions to problems faced and proposals issued by public bodies.’ – so, let’s break that down a bit:

Elicit: To bring or draw out, provoke (a reaction, for example).

Coordinate: to put in the same order or rank.
to bring into a common action, movement, or condition.
to harmonize.

To ‘draw out’ or provoke and to then harmonise or ‘bring into a common movement’ citizens’ reactions to ‘problems faced’ and government policy.

Which government policies could be so controversial as to require the government to ‘provoke’ and ‘coordinate’ the public’s reactions thereto?

And how exactly would that work, practically speaking? Something to ponder, given our subject matter.

Inclusive subversion, as literacy.

Gail is seemingly also an establishment call-girl when it comes to the (not unrelated) subject of ‘media literacy’, which is essentially statespeak for making sure that even the most peripheral tax-cows are being properly assimilated into the ‘correct mindset’: the ‘popular consensus’, as manufactured by the now ubiquitous systems of mass-media propaganda. The reality of this term has of course been intentionally obscured, and spliced with diplomatic niceties and newspeak rationales – the very techniques for which these deviant wordsmiths are employed. Let’s let Gail spill the beans:

The issue with media literacy is that it means digital inclusion to a large part, and we have had separate but overlapping groups of people working on the same agendas (…)

To me the biggest threat to democracy is the fact that capitalists own big media and that big media tells repeated lies. The web too has enabled people to develop their own media. Some of that will be nonsense, it is people’s opinion and it is people’s made-up stories and it is not particularly media literacy then, it is just the same as sitting in a pub and listening to people’s chatter, you just get to decide your own opinion, but it is really important that national media are subverted. That is why Barack Obama won and that was the most optimistic thing that ever happened in my life so I celebrate that.

-Dr Gail Bradbrook, celebrates state-sponsored ‘subversion’ of the media, before a 2009 Parliamentary hearing ‘Digital inclusion in Wales: House of Commons: Welsh Affairs Committee.’ p.58. Source:

As hard as it often is to make sense of Gail’s spoken pronouncements, we’re going to try. She first states that ‘capitalists’ own ‘big media’ and that ‘big media’ (owned by capitalists) tells lies. We wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. However, what follows is rather curious.

After clarifying what we’d already decoded – that ‘media literacy’ is statespeak for acceptance of the official narrative – and then insinuating that citizen journalism is ‘just people’s opinion and made-up stories’, without even a break in sentence structure Gail candidly discloses her position before the Parliamentary Committee, saying that it’s “really important that national media are subverted.” Subverted, in order to drum up popular support for the likes of that radical anti-capitalist, Barack Obomber?

Let’s see if we’ve got this right then: ‘capitalist’ media – bad, citizen journalism – partly ‘made-up stories’, and potentially dangerous ones at that; but state-owned and ‘progressive’ media (in effect much the same thing as far as content is concerned) – good?

Well, it certainly seems to have helped with your ‘campaigning’, eh Gail? All that free publicity from the (state-owned) BBC and the (vehemently pro-UN, lukewarmly ‘anti-capitalist’) Guardian newspaper. Where would XR be without that? Probably as strapped for cash as the ‘on-the-ground’ anti-fracking movements and campaigners are.

Every once in a while, the mask does slip, and the ‘artfully vague’ (see ‘Non-Violent Communication’) language gives way to candid admissions of chicanery and corruption. Below are some more ‘They Live’ moments from Citizens Online literature. Don’t worry, we’ve waded through it for you; here are some of the curious things we found.

Quotes below are from ‘Modernising With Purpose: A Manifesto for a digital Britain’ [link] in which Gail is mentioned as part of the IPPR ‘Digital Steering Group’ [local] [*]

[*] What’s significant to note about this first document is that it was published in 2005, during Tony Blair’s 10 year reign as Prime Minister, and was produced by his ‘pet think tank’. Incidentally this same government was at this time attempting to institute compulsory identification cards for ‘its’ citizens and an accompanying National Identity Register – plans which did not come to fruition as a result of resistance from the NO2ID campaign.

“the approaches described above, which introduce ICT “by stealth” or find the hook are therefore key.”

“This chapter argues that the diffusion of networked ICTs throughout society, today and in the future, is contributing to an attack on another government monopoly. This time, troublingly, that monopoly is constitutional democracy itself.”

“As the realities of government become plain, power becomes an ever more precious asset, and not one that would be compromised through, for instance, the introduction of proportional representation in Parliament. But technological change will occasionally weaken the power of political authorities, whether they like it or not. The birth of the printing press made possible the modern public realm, which weakened the control that authorities could exert over the written word.”

“At present, the majority of the public are, at best, sceptical as to how digital modernisation takes place in government and elsewhere. And they must be reassured that a robust legal and constitutional framework takes precedence over all other priorities, if they are to become more accepting of the changes that this Government is keen to push through.

Behold, the deferential tones of the court intellectuals!

“The Government is rightfully dismissive of the conspiracy theorists who view technological change purely as a way of monitoring and disciplining citizens; but they do surprisingly little to create the legal and constitutional regulations that would render this interpretation bankrupt.”

We wonder why that might be.

Quotes and screenshots below are from another document, co-authored by Gail and Dr Gerald Augustine Power, entitled: ‘The case for a systemic approach to digital skills’ (2014) [link] [local].

They’re very keen on “Ensuring access points are embedded in the transformational strategies of local authorities and housing associations, working as a partnership with other relevant bodies.

Access points = infrastructure, so phone masts, towers, (and now) 5G small cells; and ‘embedded’ is a crafty word for policy obligations (often with penalties for non-compliance). Other ways to forward the Digital Agenda ‘by stealth’ include:

“Sustaining support by ‘investing’ in community group leaders and influencers. Understand the hyperlocal context and getting buy-in from local ‘movers and shakers’”.

Presumably this means getting industry partners (BT, CISCO, EE) to offer ‘financial incentives’ to local authority members. Bribery, in other words?

So that ought to give you a flavour of their organisational ethos. In the next section, we’ll be taking a closer look at who Gail’s professional associates are, many of whom stand to gain financially from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while it’s marketed to the Green movement as ‘sustainable development’ – a convenient ‘stealthy hook’ for implementing carbon taxation policies and forwarding the 5G/ smart-grid roll-out if ever there was one.

For those who feel that our focus on how our planet is being turned into an open laboratory for ‘5G’ microwave technologies is out of proportion to the enormous ecological and social challenges we’re currently facing, we urge you to spend 9 minutes of your time educating yourself about their health effects, by watching this presentation.

P.S. As this research is a collaborative effort, we welcome peer-review, and take readers’ comments seriously. One thing we won’t stand for however are responses constructed out of fallacies. We’ve had a number of these already, mostly ad-hominem attacks, usually with a few straw-man arguments thrown in. If you’re going to criticise our research, then use the things we’ve actually written as the basis of your critique, not your own reworkings of it. Here’s a useful guide to avoiding logical fallacies:

How not to interact with us.

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4 thoughts on “Green Gail and the Technocratic Industrialists: Citizens Online’s Digitopian Nightmare

  1. As with all of the articles on this topic … TL;DR.

    Especially when you hide yourself like the anonymous coward you are.

    Please stop dragged William Morris’s good name and work in whatever OCD preoccupation you have with XR.

    If you did not make it down, you missed one of the most magical gigs in London for years. It was great and it reached and touch more people positively than you could ever dream of doing.

    It strikes me you have not got a clue and are just acting out the Wicked Witch of the West just because you weren’t invited to the party, and don’t have so much interest, support or following.

    Perhaps you should start by publishing your own CV?

  2. Well done Dorothy, you’ve just proved how the ad hominem fallacy is used to attack the person rather than facts and the subject involved. With a bit of passive aggressive ‘I went to a great party and you weren’t invited’ thrown in. Great job, stay classy

  3. Replying to Dorothy above – your comment was exactly the kind of ad hominem nonsense that only reflects badly on the author.
    Do you actually have a reasoned argument with regard to the research?
    Tribalism and blind faith are never adequate responses to any problem. I am sorry that criticism of Gail Bradbrook seems to hit a raw nerve for you, but please try to rise above that and connect on an intellectual level with the information provided.

    1. Another well researched piece. I have studied development and environment for more than 40 years and have seen the creeping corporate presence everywhere, usually with a veneer of positive progress. I appreciate that others see clearly what is going on before our eyes. Others like Dorothy choose to be both deaf and blind to ‘reality’

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