Author


It’s been two years since COVID-19 became a dominant and all-consuming issue [1]. Now there are signs we are witnessing the unravelling of some of the key policy responses – blanket lockdowns and population-wide injections – that have been so aggressively promoted by many, although not all, governments around the world. Of course, the unravelling is patchy: many countries are maintaining high levels of restrictions and the infrastructure for reinstating measures persists. There is also reluctance by many to concede there have been problems with the COVID-19 responses to date. However, doubts about the efficacy of lockdowns [2] are now widely aired whilst there is increasing awareness [3] that the mRNA shot is not safe. And it is at least clear that very significant numbers of people, including scientists and academics, [4] are expressing views that are at odds with authority or mainstream claims that lockdowns reduce mortality and that mass injections are a rational and efficacious solution.

These have been remarkable and unprecedented times. And so too has been the propaganda associated with COVID-19. Broadly speaking, propaganda in this case can be understood on two levels. The first concerns propaganda associated with the implementation of COVID-19 measures. The second concerns the propagandisation of the COVID-19 event itself as part of what can be understood as a ‘structural deep event’ [5]. Each are dealt with in turn.

Propaganda and the Implementation of COVID-19 Measures

It has become apparent that a remarkably large and wide-ranging propaganda effort was used in order to mobilize support for lockdowns and, later on, injections. For example, it is understood that many Western governments have behavioural psychology units attached to the highest levels of government designed to shape thoughts and behaviour. According to Iain Davis [6], the World Health Organisation (WHO) had established in February 2020 the Technical Advisory Group [7] on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health (TAG); ‘The group is chaired by Prof. Cass Sunstein and its members include behavioural change experts from the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Professor Susan Michie, from the UK, is also a TAG participant’. In the UK behavioural scientists from SPI-B (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour) reconvened on 13 February 20208 and they subsequently advised the UK government on how to secure compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Broadly, these propaganda techniques appear to have involved increasing fear levels [9] in order to coerce populations to comply with lockdown and, later on, to accept a series of injections.

We also now know that propaganda activities have included smear campaigns against dissenting scientists and, at least in one major case, were initiated by high-level officials [10]: In autumn 2020, Anthony Fauci and National Institute of Health director Francis Collins discussed the need to swiftly shut down the Great Barrington Declaration [11], whose authors were advocating an alternative COVID-19 response focused on protecting high-risk individuals and thus avoiding destructive lockdown measures. Collins wrote in an email that this ‘proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists … seems to be getting a lot of attention … There needs to be a quick and devastating published takedown of its premises’ [12]. Rather than a civilised and robust scientific debate [13], a highly unscientific smear campaign followed.

Both the legacy/corporate media, social media platforms and large swathes of academia appear to have played an important role in disseminating this propaganda and promoting the ‘official’ narrative on COVID-19. The proximity of legacy/corporate media to political and economic power has been well understood for many decades [14]; with COVID-19 these dynamics are exacerbated by, for example, direct regulatory influence, such as in the UK, OFCOM direction to broadcasters and censorship by ‘Big Tech’ of views deviating from those of the authorities and the WHO. The Trusted News Initiative (TNI), another propaganda programme, has co-ordinated major legacy media [15] in order to counter what they claim to be ‘misinformation’, and this appears to have played a central role in suppressing legitimate scientific criticism whilst elevating ‘official’ narratives.

It is probably true to describe COVID-19 implementation strategies as a veritable gold mine for propaganda research, and one hopes some considerable time will be invested by propaganda researchers in order to document and evaluate these activities. Analysis on this level also assumes, to an extent, that propaganda has been justified and used by well-intentioned actors who believed that exaggeration of the threat posed by COVID-19, coupled with various forms of coercion, were necessary in order to ensure public compliance with necessary life-saving measures. However, of equal if not greater importance is the way in which COVID-19 itself has served purposes as a propaganda ‘event’. Here the focus of attention is on propaganda operating at a deeper level in which any concern with respect to the necessity of propaganda to save lives was either secondary to, or otherwise entirely irrelevant to, the promotion of political and economic agendas entirely disconnected to any substantive public health concerns.

Propaganda and the ‘structural deep event’ thesis

Propaganda is not simply reducible to forms of linguistic and visual messaging [16] encapsulated in promotional campaigns. It also involves both action in the real world and interaction with real world events. The notion of ‘propaganda of the deed’ refers to the way in which events can serve propagandistic purposes. So, for example, during the ‘shock and awe’ strategy pursued during the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, government buildings in the centre of Iraq’s capital Baghdad were destroyed in spectacular fashion during the opening hours of the military campaign. The aim was to send a powerful propaganda message to the Iraqi military and population that the Iraqi government’s days were numbered and that resistance was futile.

On a similar but much wider level Peter Dale Scott’s ‘structural deep event’ concept captures the idea that powerful actors frequently work to variously instigate, exploit, and/or exacerbate real world events in ways that enable substantive and long-lasting societal transformations. These frequently involve, according to Scott, a combination of legal and illegal activity implicating both legitimate and public-facing political structures as well as covert or hidden parts of government – the so-called deep state which is understood as the interface ‘between the public, the constitutionally established state, and the deep forces behind it of wealth, power, and violence outside the government’. So, for example, Scott argues that the JFK assassination became an event that enabled the maintenance of the Cold War whilst 9/11 likewise enabled the global ‘war on terror’, and that both involved a variety of actors not usually recognized in mainstream or official accounts of these events [17].

There are certainly prima facie grounds warranting the exploration of COVID-19 as a ‘structural deep event’ whereby the event itself has served propaganda purposes. This deeper level of analysis suggests that there has been, at least to a very significant extent, nefarious and deceptive behaviour by powerful political and economic actors who have variously exaggerated the dangers posed by COVID-19 and possibly even having been involved with instigating the COVID-19 event itself. Here, COVID-19 can be understood as a propagandized event that has served various purposes including distracting populations from major political and economic policies being implemented whilst creating conditions of crisis and restructuring that have enabled various agendas to be advanced.

For example, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been associated by some analysts [18] with COVID-19 and in 2020 Klaus Schwab, its founder, published a co-authored book titled COVID-19: The Great Reset.20 Schwab declared: ‘The Pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world’ [21]. One key components [22] of the political-economic vision promoted by the WEF is the instigation of ‘stakeholder capitalism’ (Global Public Private Partnerships, GPPP) involving the integration of government, business and civil society actors with respect to the provision of services. Another key component is harnessing ‘the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (4IR), especially the exploitation of developments in artificial intelligence, computing, and robotics in order to radically transform society toward a digitised world. Slogans now frequently associated with these visions include you ‘will own nothing and be happy’, [23] ‘smart cities’ [24] and ‘build back better’ [25].

It is also apparent that the WEF, as an organising force, has considerable reach. It has been involved with training and educating individuals – Global Leaders Programme – who have subsequently moved into positions of considerable power [26]. It has also been noted that many national leaders (e.g. Merkel, Macron, Trudeau, Ardern, Putin, and Kurz) are WEF Young Global Leader Foundation graduates and have ‘played prominent roles, typically promoting zero-Covid strategies, lockdowns, mask mandates, and ‘vaccine passports’ [27]. In 2017 Schwab boasted [28]:

“When I mention our names like Mrs Merkel even Vladimir Putin and so on, they all have been young global leaders of the World Economic forum. But what we are very proud of now is the young generation like prime minister Trudeau, president of Argentina and so on. So we penetrate the cabinets. So yesterday I was at a reception for prime minister Trudeau and I will know that half of this cabinet or even more half of this cabinet are actually young global leaders of the world economic forum …. that’s true in Argentina, and it’s true in France now with the president a young global leader.”

The COVID-19 event has also run simultaneously with a major financial crisis and steps towards digitilized currencies. It is now established that a major crisis in the repo markets during the autumn of 2019 was followed by high-level planning aimed at attempting to resolve an impending financial crisis of greater proportions than the 2008 banking crisis [29]. One response according to some analysts has been a drive toward control of currencies via the Central Banks: Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) [30]. For example, the General Manager of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), Agustin Carstens, stated in October 2020 that [31]:

“we intend to establish the equivalence with cash and there is a huge difference there, for example in cash we don’t know who is using a 100 dollar bill today … the key difference with the CBDC is that the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use regarding of that expression of central bank liability and also we will have the technology to enforce that.”

The CBDC provides, potentially, complete control over how and when an individual spends money in addition to allowing authorities to automatically deduct taxes through a person’s ‘digital wallet’. According to some analysts [32] this development would also effectively remove any significant democratic control with respect to financial policy at the national level.

Technologies associated with CBDC overlap with those associated with 4IR and associated concepts regarding the digitised society. Specifically, digital identity, a necessary component of the intended CBDC, provides a basis for the creation of a digital grid platform upon which information relating to all aspects of an individual’s life will be potentially available to governments, corporations, and other powerful entities such as the security services. Also notable is the relationship between Digital ID and the drive to create ‘vaccine passports’ as part of the COVID-19 response: Microsoft and the Rockefeller Foundation are central players in ID2020 [33] along with the Gavi. The objective here appears to be a global-level digital ID framework that integrates with health/vaccination status. When combined with the programmable CBDC, a ‘vaccine passport’ that determines access to services and real-world spaces and the potential availability of all online behaviours to corporations and governments essentially creates a system of near-total control over an individual’s life, activities and opportunities. This system of control can be seen operating in China with the social credit system currently being implemented there in certain provinces. Integration of personal data and money though digital ID would also allow individuals to be readily stripped of their assets.

As such, it is entirely plausible that there has occurred a convergence of interests shared across multiple political and economic actors that has, in turn, enabled the advancement of political and economic agendas. COVID-19, in this scenario, might well have been a mobilizing propaganda event itself, instrumentalized by political and economic actors to further specific agendas and objectives. It may also be the case the current war in the Ukraine is an event that will be propagandized and used in a similar fashion [34].

Indeed, it is precisely this broad thesis that is advanced in recent publications. In States of Emergency [35] Kees van der Pijl argues there has been a biopolitical seizure of power’ in which an intelligence-IT-media complex has crystallized as a new class block seeking to quell growing unrest and the strengthening of progressive social movements throughout the world. Under the cover of Covid-19, and via ruthless exploitation of people’s fear of a virus, van der Pijl traces how this new class block is attempting to impose control via high-tech digitised societies involving mandatory injections and digital ID, as well as censorship and manipulation of public spheres. In short, Kees van der Pijl describes a total surveillance society involving massive concentrations of power and the end of democracy. Iain Davis’ Pseudopandemic [36] similarly presents the COVID-19 event as primarily a propagandized phenomenon that has functioned to enable the continued emergence of a technocratic order built around the Global Public-Private Partnership (GPPP) and ‘stake-holder capitalism’ that has emerged primarily to serve the interests of what he describes as an elite ‘parasite class’. Robert F. Kennedy’s The Real Anthony Fauci [37], although focused on documenting the corruption involved with respect to public health institutions and ‘Big Pharma’, is clear about their consequences for our democracies.

Early in the book he notes that Fauci ‘has played a central role in undermining public health and subverting democracy and constitutional governance around the globe and in transitioning our civil governance toward medical totalitarianism’. Later in the book, Kennedy discusses the interplay between military, medical, and intelligence planners and raises questions about an ‘underlying agenda to coordinate dismantlement of democratic governance’:

After 9/11, the rising biosecurity cartel adopted simulations as signalling mechanisms for choreographing lockstep responses among corporate, political, and military technocrats charged with managing global exigencies. Scenario planning became an indispensable device for multiple power centers to coordinate complex strategies for simultaneously imposing coercive controls upon democratic societies across the globe.’

Other important analyses, all of which run along similar lines, have been provided by Cory Morningstar, Paul Schreyer, Daniel Broudy and Whitney Webb, amongst others [38]. And, not to be forgotten, James Corbett was one of the first to warn of the impending dangers of a biosecurity state [39] all the way back in March 2020 [40]. Along with all this, transhumanism, life extension and/or ‘enhancement’ through technology and digitalised society, observable in some of the output from the WEF and public musings of key individuals, appears to reflect a set of beliefs in technology and progress that can be traced back to the Enlightenment thinking of the last 300 years. Philosophical debates over technology and what it means to be human have remained at the heart of the Enlightenment ‘project’, although perhaps deeply buried.

Attempts to attach a label to the complex political and economic processes we are witnessing include descriptors such as ‘global fascism,’ ‘global communism,’ ‘neo-feudalism,’ ‘neo-serfdom’, ‘totalitarianism,’ ‘technocracy,’ ‘centralization vs. subsidiarity,’ ‘stakeholder capitalism’, ‘global public-private partnership,’ ‘corporate authoritarianism’, ‘authoritarianism,’ ‘tyranny’ and ‘global capitalism.’ Dr Robert Malone, inventor of part of the mRNA technology used in the COVID-19 injections, openly refers to the threat of global totalitarianism [41].

Understanding and Researching Propaganda and Intellectual Responsibility

History is replete with examples of powerful actors variously instigating, exacerbating and/or exploiting events in order to propagandize populations and pursue goals. In the days after 9/11, we now know that British and American officials were planning a wide-ranging series of actions – so called ‘regime-change’ wars – that went well outside the scope of the official narrative regarding combatting alleged ‘Islamic fundamentalist terrorism’. And, as explained by Elizabeth Woodward in this journal, Propaganda in Focus, the events of 9/11 itself, as cast in official narratives, are profoundly controversial. Within four days of 9/11, a British embassy cable stated that ‘[t]he “regime-change hawks” in Washington are arguing that a coalition put together for one purpose [against international terrorism] could be used to clear up other problems in the region’ [42]. Within weeks British Prime Minister Tony Blair communicated with US president George W. Bush saying, amongst many other things, ‘If toppling Saddam is a prime objective, it is far easier to do it with Syria and Iran in favour or acquiescing rather than hitting all three at once’ [43]. Bush and Blair laid the tracks for 20-plus years of conflict in the international system, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the recently ended 20-year occupation of Afghanistan. Countless lives have been destroyed or ruined whilst entire countries have been levelled as a result of the so-called ‘global war on terror’. These wars have been carried on under the nose of much of western mainstream media and academia who have, in large part, failed abysmally to understand, let alone, call out, these deceptions.

There are strong grounds indicating that COVID-19 is, similar to 9/11, a ‘structural deep event’ with populations being manipulated, cajoled and in many ways crushed through the ruthless exploitation of fear over a respiratory virus. The dangers in this case seem even wider than those associated with western-led ‘regime-change’ wars. It is also now clear and empirically demonstrable that populations are being subjected to increasingly coercive and aggressive attempts to limit their autonomy including restrictions on movement, right to protest, freedom to work and freedom to participate in society [44]. Most notably, significant numbers of people have been pushed, sometimes required, to take an injection at regular intervals in order to allow their participation in society. These developments have been accompanied by, at times, aggressive and discriminatory statements from major political leaders with respect to people resisting injection. The threat to civil liberties and ‘democracy as usual’ is, arguably, unprecedented. The economic impact has been dire, and the COVID-19 era has seen a dramatic and ongoing transfer of wealth from the poorest to the very richest [45]. And, just as the purported ‘global war on terror’ has killed vastly more people than could ever be attributed to ‘Islamic fundamentalist terrorism’, the death and destruction caused by shutting down economies [46] and disrupting normal healthcare provision far exceeds what could ever be attributed to a seasonal respiratory virus of marginal threat to the vast bulk of the population.

This is no time for timidity on the part of researchers and writers. Mainstream/corporate journalists need to follow the lead of independent investigative writers and researchers and examine closely and critically both the ways in which propaganda has been used to implement measures related to COVID-19. More seriously, there needs to be objective and rigorous analysis of the ways in which COVID-19 itself has functioned as a ‘structural deep event’ through which political and economic agendas have been advanced. Here the focus is not so much on the ways propaganda has been used to implement public health responses, but rather on how the event itself has served propagandist purposes as part of driving through major political and economic agendas. The task is pressing and if our worst fears, encapsulated by analysts such as van der Pijl, Davis, and Kennedy, are accurate then we need to act before democracy is lost and we enter into a ‘new normal’ of authoritarian or totalitarian technocracy.

References

  1. This paper is developed from a version ‘Cock-up of Conspiracy? Understanding COVD-19 as a structural deep event’ and published by PANDA 31 April 2022. Thanks to Daniel Broudy and Stefanie Haueis for comments and feedback on this version.
  2. Collateral Global (2022), https://collateralglobal.org.
  3. Stephanie Seneff, Greg Nigh, Anthony M. Kyriakopoulos and Peter A. McCullough (2022) ‘Innate Immune Suppression by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccinations: The role of G-quadruplexes, exosomes and microRNAs’, Food and Chemical Toxicology, 164(?): pp: 1-19.
  4. World Council for Health (2022), https://worldcouncilforhealth.org.
  5. Peter Dale Scott. (2017) The American Deep State: Big Money, Big Oil, and the Struggle for U.S. Democracy [updated edition], Rowman and Littlefield.
  6. Iain Davis. (2022) ‘Acceptance of and Commitment to Freedom’, In This Together: The Disillusioned Blogger, Available at https://in-this-together.com/towards-freedom/, Accessed 20 April 2022.
  7. World Health Organisation, (2021) ‘Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health – Membership’, Archived at https://archive.ph/TbRla, accessed 20 April 2022.
  8. Mike Robinson. (2020) ‘COVID Coercion: Boris Johnson’s Psychological Attack on the UK Public’ UK Column, Available at https://www.ukcolumn.org/article/covid-coercion-boris-johnsons-psychological-attack-uk-public, accessed 20 April 2022.
  9. Laura Dodsworth. (2021) State of Fear: How the UK Government Weaponised Fear During the COVID-19 Pandemic, (Pinter and Martin).
  10. ‘How Fauci and Collins Shut Down Covid Debate: they worked with the media to trash the Great Barrington Declaration’, Wall Street Journal, 21 December 2021.
  11. Great Barrington Declaration (2020), https://gbdeclaration.org/.
  12. ‘How Fauci and Collins Shut Down Covid Debate: they worked with the media to trash the Great Barrington Declaration’, Wall Street Journal, 21 December 2021.
  13. Jayanata Bhattacharya and Mertin Kulldorf (2022) ‘The Collins and Fauci Attack on Traditional Public Health’, Independent Institute, 4 January 2022.
  14. Piers Robinson. (2015) ‘The Propaganda Model: Still Relevant Today?’ in Alison Edgley (ed) Noam Chomsky, (Palgrave, Macmillan).
  15. Elizabeth Woodworth. (2021), ‘COVID-19 and the shadowy “Trusted News Initiative”: how TNI methodically censors top world public health experts using an early warning system’, Common Ground, 3 September 2021.
  16. Vian Bakir, Eric Herring, David Miller and Piers Robinson (2019) ‘Organised Persuasive Communication: A new conceptual framework for research on public relations, propaganda and promotional culture’, Critical Sociology, 45(3): 311-328.
  17. Peter Dale Scott. (2017) The American Deep State: Big Money, Big Oil, and the Struggle for U.S. Democracy [updated edition], Rowman and Littlefield.
  18. Cory Morningstar. (2020) ‘The Show Must Go On. Event 201: the 2019 Fictional Pandemic Exercise [World Economic Forum, Gates Foundation et al.]’ The Art of Annihilation, 6 December 2020.
  19. David, Iain. (2021) Pseudopandemic-New Normal Technocracy (HM State Franchise).
  20. Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret (2020) COVID-19: The Great Reset, (Forum Publishing).
  21. Klaus Schwab. (2020) ‘Now is the time for a “great reset”’, World economic Forum. Available at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/now-is-the-time-for-a-great-reset, Accessed 21 April 2022.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ida Auken. (2016) ‘Welcome to 2030: I Own Nothing, Have no Privacy and Life Has Never Been Better’, Forbes, 10 November 2016.
  24. Anna Visvizi and Raquel Perez del Hoyo. (2021) Smart Cities and the UN SDGs, (Elsevier).
  25. ‘The Build Back Better Framework: President Biden’s Plan to Rebuild the Middle Class’, White House, Available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/build-back-better/, accessed 21 April 2022.
  26. ‘The WEF and the Pandemic’ Swiss Policy Research, updated March 2022.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Klaus Schwab (2017) Discussion at John F. Kennedy School of Government, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbVD4tB4cVQ, accessed 21 April 2022.
  29. ‘Doctors for COVID Ethics Symposium-Session 2: The Going Direct Reset’, (2021), Available at https://tube.doctors4covidethics.org/videos/watch/728621fe-3f11-4e7d-87b8-49ed03c2e031?start=0s, accessed 21 April 2022.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FM4Fu2ujDE, accessed 21 April 2022.
  32. ‘Doctors for COVID Ethics Symposium-Session 2: The Going Direct Reset’, (2021), Available at https://tube.doctors4covidethics.org/videos/watch/728621fe-3f11-4e7d-87b8-49ed03c2e031?start=0s, accessed 21 April 2022.
  33. ID2020 (2022), https://id2020.org.
  34. Piers Robinson, (2022) ‘From COVID-19 to Ukraine: Bouncing from one crisis to the next and the importance of staying focused’, PANDA, 8 March 2022.
  35. Kees van der Pijl (2021) States of Emergency: Keeping the Global Population in Check, (Clarity Press).
  36. David, Iain. (2021) Pseudopandemic-New Normal Technocracy (HM State Franchise).
  37. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (2021) The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health, (Children’s Health Defence).
  38. Cory Morningstar. (2020) ‘The Show Must Go On. Event 201: the 2019 Fictional Pandemic Exercise [World Economic Forum, Gates Foundation et al.]’ The Art of Annihilation, 6 December 2020; Paul Shreyer (2021) Chronik einer angekundigten Krise: wie ein Virus verandern konnte (Westend); Daniel Broudy (2021) ‘Vaccine Development and Social Control: A psychopathology of impaired reasoning in the Global Push for Mass Compliance’, International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research, 2(1): pp: 93-124; Whitney Webb (2020) ‘All Roads Lead to Dark Winter’, The Last American Vagabond, 1 April 2020.
  39. James Corbett (2020) ‘This is NOT Normal’, The Corbett Report. Available at https://www.corbettreport.com/this-is-not-normal/?fbclid=IwAR1FGKC0zZuUuC_OTfmPSw9BkGbr068UTLP5A8lzczXgIo8uAmYk5yttiVc, accessed 21 April 2022.
  40. Piers Robinson, (2020) ‘The Propaganda of Terror and Fear: A Lesson from Recent History’ Off Guardian, 28 March 2020.
  41. Robert Malone, (2022) The Joe Rogan Experience, Available at https://rumble.com/vrtdku-joe-rogan-jre-1757-robert-malone-covid.html, accessed 21 April 2022.
  42. Piers Robinson, (2017) ‘Learning from the Chilcot report: Propaganda, deception and the ‘War on Terror’, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 11(1&2): pp: 47-73.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Big Brother Watch, (2022). https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/
  45. ‘Mega-rich recoup COVID-losses in record-time yet billions will live in poverty for at least a decade’, OXFAM International, press release 25 January 2021.
  46. Collateral Global (2022), https://collateralglobal.org.

(Featured Image: “Vice President Biden’s adresses at WEF” by U.S. Embassy Bern, Switzerland is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.)

Author

  • Piers Robinson

    Dr. Piers Robinson is a co-director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies, convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda, associated researcher with the Working Group on Propaganda and the 9/11 Global ‘War on Terror’, member of Panda and BerlinGroup21. He researches and writes on propaganda, conflict and media and was Chair/Professor in Politics, Society ad Political Journalism, University of Sheffield, 2016-2019, Senior Lecturer in International Politics (University of Manchester 2010-2016) and Lecturer in Political Communication (University of Liverpool, 1999-2005).