Few people had heard of the UKIP activist George Cotrell before his July 2016 trip to the United States with Nigel Farage to share their gleeful Ukipper Brexit triumphalism with Donald Trump and the Republican Party convention.
Until his arrest by US authorities on 21 charges of money laundering, fraud, blackmail and extortion, Cotrell was a relatively unknown UKIP activist with a weak social profile. He may not have been much of a public figure but what is undeniable is that he was part of UKIP's inner cadre at the time of his arrest. There is no way that he could have ended up as Nigel Farage's aide on an expenses-paid jolly to the United States if he wasn't considered a trusted member of the UKIP inner team.
Drug dealers, money laundering and the dark web
Cottrell was arrested as the result of an FBI sting in which he'd conspired to launder money for drug dealers he'd met on the dark web. The drug dealers turned out to be FBI agents and Cottrell ended up being singled out of the UKIP team and arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. He has remained under arrest ever since.
In January 2017 Cottrell agreed to a plea bargain with the US authorities in which he admitted a charge of fraud and confessed to his criminal behaviour in order to avoid going to trial. In his written confession Cottrell admitted that he'd offered his services as a dark web money launderer to people he thought were drug dealers.
Having admitted his guilt Cottrell faces a potential 20 year jail sentence and a fine of up to $250,000. Given his establishment connections and the fact that he agreed to a plea bargain it's highly likely he'll get off much more lightly than the maximum sentence.
The plea bargain is incredibly convenient for Cottrell who gets to write his actions off as some kind of foolish youthful misadventure, with no further questions asked about how many other dark web deals he'd made with other criminals and drug dealers before he got caught, or whether he was still orchestrating criminal activities on the dark web between the time he joined UKIP's inner cadre and the time of his arrest.
Cottrell's plea bargain is also incredibly convenient for UKIP because it avoids the appalling PR catastrophe of a trial where the lurid details of Cottrell's dodgy dark web scheming would have been exposed by the prosecution and picked over by the media on both sides of the Atlantic.
The question of how then 21 year old Cotrell got himself into the influential political position of Nigel Farage's courtier doesn't take much effort to answer: His uncle is Alexander Fermor-Hesketh who sits as an unelected UKIP peer in the anti-democratic House of Lords.
A clearer case of political nepotism it's difficult to imagine.
A look at Hesketh's background gives us a fascinating insight into the shady sub-democratic world of Westminster politics and the revolving door between the Tory party and UKIP.
The young Alexander Hesketh inherited his seat in the House of Lords in 1971 at the age of 16 when his father died at just 39 years of age. Hesketh didn't bother to participate in Westminster politics at all until he was befriended by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 and invited into her inner team. Despite never having been elected to anything, Hesketh went on to serve in several government positions for the Thatcher regime and then had the important job of Chief Whip in John Major's government too.
In 1999 Hesketh's inherited entitlement to sit in the Lords was abolished when Labour scrapped all but 92 of the hereditary peers, but he managed to stay on as an unelected peer by being one of the survivors from Tony Blair's bizarre compromise deal to allow 92 members of the profoundly undemocratic entitled aristocracy class to keep their unelected seats in the Lords.
Between 2003 and 2006 Hesketh served as the Treasurer of the Tory Party. Then after falling out of favour he resurfaced in 2011 Hesketh when he decided to defect to UKIP.
For decades he couldn't have been more of an establishment insider, or more of a Thatcher-worshipping Tory if he'd tried, but then, like so many Tories before him, and so many Tories after him, he abandoned his true-blue establishment robes of ermine and donned the purple and yellow costume of an UKIP anti-establishment freedom fighter instead!
The sickening hypocrisy of a completely unelected establishment insider defecting to political party that never ever shut up in their efforts to disparage "unelected technocrats in Brussels" and "the establishment" passed him. and presumably pretty much all other Ukippers, by completely.
Hesketh's career sheds a light into the murky and profoundly undemocratic world of Westminster politics, and were it not for his decision to join UKIP then give his young nephew George the gift of a spot of party political nepotism, few would ever have considered it anything unusual, and I certainly would never have ended up detailing it here.
The truth is that this kind of unelected cronyism, political nepotism and Tory-UKIP interbreeding is so absolutely commonplace and ordinary in Westminster politics that nobody in the mainstream press would ever even have thought about reporting on it.
In response to the scandal Nigel Farage put on a typically Faragesque display of indignant bluster by talking down the significance of Cottrell's involvement in UKIP's inner cadre and then dismissing Cottrell's written admission of conspiracy to launder money as if it was such a trifling matter that he's actually pretty bloody indignant that journalists would ever bother him about it at all!
This kind of Farage performance should be familiar to all of us by now, especially given the way the mainstream media have diligently awarded Farage seemingly limitless airtime and column inches to pontificate furiously about this, or bloviate angrily about that, all delivered with that woeful victim-complex pleading that appeals so strongly to the right-wing bigot demographic.
The reason that Farage's tone of furious indignation chimes so well with UKIP's not-insignificant bigot demographic is that bigots are generally just as indignant as Farage about things. They're indignant at being held to account for their bigoted views and behaviour by liberal society, and they pine for the good old days when they could hurl racial abuse at people in the street, spit into the prams of mixed-race babies, beat up gays and cram excrement through the letter boxes of their non-white neighbours. Right-wing bigots adore Farage for constantly voicing the kind of indignant fury that they feel at the constraints of living in a modern socially liberal society, and for the way he deliberately inflates their already bloated self-pitying victim complexes.
How very dare journalists ask Farage questions about his dodgy dark web dealing aide? And how very dare the hated PC brigade call right-wing bigots out on their overt displays of bigotry?
That's the mentality that has driven Farage's success.
You've got to hand it to him. He certainly knows how to appeal to people's indignation, and how to feed into their pathetic victim complexes with his ludicrous fairy tales about how a bunch of predominantly wealthy, white, right-wing males are the poorest and most maligned victims in society, and how people like Remain voters, civil rights activists, and members of the anti-Fascist Hope not Hate organisation are actually the evil extremist villains!
The mainstream media
The vast majority of mainstream media hacks lazily filled out their hastily churnalised articles on Cottrell's guilty plea by quoting Farage's blustering indignation word for word, and utterly failing to subject any of it to critical scrutiny in the process.
The hacks just wrote their stories and got paid, and because Farage was apparently one of the only people to issue statements to the press on the scandal, he ended up being gifted column inch after column inch to parade his faux indignation.
Bizarrely, instead of any effort to press Farage any further on how he ended up with a confessed dark net drug money launderer as his aide, the very next day the supposedly left-liberal Guardian gifted Farage yet another huge wave of free publicity by reporting on his call for an ideological purge of the civil service in order to weed out individuals who committed "Ukipper treason" by supporting the case for Remain!
Instead of taking the golden opportunity to back Farage into a corner over how a dodgy dark web money laundering schemer found his way into UKIP's inner core, the Guardian actually chose to give him carte blanche to call for the fascistic ideological purges of political non-conformists to begin!
Imagine if this Cottrell had been a Jeremy Corbyn aide
Given the incredible fuss the mainstream media have made over comparatively trivial Jeremy Corbyn offences like Cenotaph-gate, Train-gate and FakedPhotosOfCorbynDancing-gate, surely it's safe to assume that the mainstream press would have gone into a savage frenzy of Corbyn condemnation had one of his inner circle ended up pleading guilty to planning a dark web drug money laundering scam.
We all know there would have been endless column inches written about it, and we also all know that all the right-wing Labour Party rent-a-gobs would have fuelled the flames of condemnation with their efforts to completely destroy the Labour Party from within rather than allow it to be run by a genuine democratic socialist on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who elected him to run it.
It doesn't matter how little respect for Jeremy Corbyn you might have in his position as leader of the Labour Party, only the most delusional of reality-deniers would attempt to argue that had it been Corbyn in Farage's situation, there would have been no barrage of furious and deeply biased condemnation in the mainstream media and no howls of faux outrage from divisive Anyone But Corbyn ranters like John McTernan, Peter Mandelson, Tristram Hunt, Ian Austin, Luke Akehurst and Tom Blenkinsopp.
Nigel Farage's former aide is a profoundly dodgy dark web drug money laundering plotter; Nigel Farage himself is a Poundland fascist who is pining for the ruthless ideological purges to begin in earnest supported by an adoring mob of furious bigots with victim complexes the size of hot air balloons; lazy mainstream media hacks consistently fail to hold Farage to account and afford him almost limitless free publicity; the Labour Party is a complete shambles stuffed full of intensely bitter right-wingers who would rather destroy it from within than give it back to the kind of people who actually founded it; and anyone who imagines that the incredibly hostile mainstream media would have given Jeremy Corbyn such an easy ride had it been his aide admitting to a dark web drug money laundering scam must be suffering truly meta-level scales of delusion.
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