Tory troll farm! Russia-obsessed party plots rise of its own battle bots ahead of election
An army of Tory tweeters sounds about as dull as, well, a bunch of Tories talking down to us about politics, but we’re about to find out just how fun it could be. Paid tweeters will be hired by the Conservative party in a bid to win the war over social media – they’re currently hiding in their trenches as Labour stomps all over the battlefield.
Brandon Lewis MP, the Tory Party chairman, has vowed he will help Tories come out on top now that the online abuse aimed at the governing party is having a negative effect on recruitment. According to reports, Lewis is recruiting hundreds of staff across the country in a bid to dramatically increase the party’s online presence. One insider said a person for every London borough – that’s 32 in total – will be online attempting to sway opinion towards the Tories.
The embarrassing play by the party to get with the times could clash, however, with the agenda of Tory boy Damian Collins, chair of the indefatigable fake news committee. The committee has not been able to prove – even once – Russia meddled with Brexit through social media.
Yet his colleagues remain convinced Theresa May can win the support of the nation with a few tweets. Senior Tories are beginning to believe the Tories will tank in the local elections in May. And, watching the success of Labour’s Momentum group (which did have influence at elections through massive support for Corbyn), the Tories fancy a crack at the social media world.
Last night chairman Lewis said: “We are working hard to widen our membership and strengthen our professional campaign team to support our fantastic volunteers around the country. “These new campaign managers are there to help us win elections, simply because they make campaigning happen where we need it,” he said.
“They’ll be on the ground in constituencies across the country, supporting our candidates as they work to improve local communities; take the fight to Labour on social media; and they’ll build a strong group of dedicated volunteers in every constituency.”
Lewis disclosed the plans for campaign managers in a message to members earlier this month, seeking donations to help fund their salaries. Later, he said the party had been “overwhelmed” by the support to date for the army of social-media-savvy Tories.
Job adverts on the Conservatives’ website includes campaign managers for Milton Keynes, Thurrock and Great Yarmouth. “This is about making sure we’ve got professional help on the ground to help the associations to really fight these elections,” the source told The Times.