In an exclusive story, North99 has uncovered that the Manning Centre and Conservative operatives received received training from a US-based Republican company called Harris Media that is also connected to Germany’s (Alternative for Germany) AfD, a resurgent party that has been described as “neo-Nazi”.
Harris Media is an American digital marketing company that works with Republican and far-right parties around the world, including Ted Cruz, UKIP in Britain, LIKUD in Israel, Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, and the German AfD.
Here is a video of Harris Media’s CEO speaking at the Manning Centre Conference in 2017 and giving Conservative strategists advice about campaigning:
Here is a picture of Harris Media CEO Vincent Harris’ pass to the Manning Centre event:
Harris Media also worked with the Manning Centre in the lead-up to the 2015 election:
— Harris Media (@HarrisMedia) August 25, 2015
Germany’s AfD sits at the far-right end of the country’s political spectrum. In 2015, their leader argued that police should be permitted to shoot migrants and refugees attempting to enter the country. One prominent party representative said Germany should take a “180-degree turn” away from its guilt over the Holocaust. Another said “Germans have the right to reclaim not just our country, but also our past.”
Harris Media’s work with the German Neo-Nazi party AfD is well documented. Numerous media reports paint a truly disturbing picture of Harris Media’s involvement:
For several days now, many Facebook and Twitter users in Germany have been confronted with a disturbing image on their profile pages: It shows bloody tire tracks running across the screen, reminiscent of the ones left by Islamic State terrorists in several European cities. It is accompanied by the slogan: “The tracks left by the world chancellor in Europe.”
The party is working together with the Texas-based agency Harris Media, which recently presented its plans to the AfD’s national committee. With its provocative and aggressive campaigns, the agency has already contributed to the success of a number of controversial politicians. In Britain, it worked with the anti-EU UKIP party; in Israel, it worked with the governing Likud party; and in the United States, news agency Bloomberg has dubbed company founder Vincent Harris “the man who invented the Republican internet.”
The AfD went on to win an historic number of seats, gaining enough votes to join the German Parliament for the first time in 60 years.
According to third-party research, social media marketing, much of it conducted by Harris Media, played a key role in AfD’s victory. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post story on the subject:
Since January, AfD’s Facebook posts averaged around 3,500 likes per post, almost double the nearest rival the CSU, which received 1,900 on average. In addition, AfD consistently got more likes per post than any other party.
Their social media strategy relied on highly polarizing content:
The AfD built up a large following on both Facebook and Twitter by sharing a high volume of highly sensationalist tweets and posts, which other social media users reacted to emotionally. For example, shortly after the terrorist attacks in Barcelona last month, the AfD posted a picture of bloody tire marks with the headline:
“Frau Merkel, die Opfer Ihrer politischen Amok-Fahrt sind nicht vergessen! Doch wie viele müssen noch sterben, bevor Sie verstehen?” (Translation: “Mrs. Merkel, the victims of your political rampage are not forgotten! But how many have to die before you understand?”)
The results were stunning:
- AfD engaged 5x more users than its nearest rivals and its fan were three times more active than other parties.
- AfD content was shared 800,000 times, more than every other party combined
Did the Manning Centre receive similar training as the AfD? Are Conservative operatives using similar strategies? Harris Media’s involvement with the Manning Centre raises some truly troubling questions about the trajectory of the Conservative movement in Canada.
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