Matthew Elliott (political strategist)

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Matthew Elliott

Born
Matthew Jim Elliott

(1978-02-12) 12 February 1978 (age 41)
NationalityBritish
EducationLeeds Grammar School
Alma materLondon School of Economics
OccupationPolitical strategist
Known for
Political partyConservative

Matthew Jim Elliott FRSA (born 12 February 1978[2]) is a British political strategist and lobbyist who has served as the chief executive of a number of organisations and been involved in various successful referendum campaigns, including Vote Leave.

Elliot was the founder and has served as chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance in 2004, Big Brother Watch and Business for Britain. In 2012, he was also a founding member of Conservative Friends of Russia.[3] According to New Statesman, "Elliott did attend a Conservative Friends of Russia reception in 2012 and a 10-day trip to the country, but said he had no further involvement."[1]

He has also seen success as a political strategist, acting as campaign director for the successful NOtoAV campaign in the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum. In 2015, Elliot became the chief executive of Vote Leave, the official organisation advocating for a 'leave' vote in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. He was described as "...one of the most successful political campaigners in Westminster today." [4]

In July 2018, an investigation by the UK's Electoral Commission found that Elliott's campaign broke UK electoral law.[5]

Personal life and education[edit]

Elliott was born in Leeds and attended Leeds Grammar School. He graduated with a First in BSc Government from the London School of Economics in 2000.[6] In 2008, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.[2] Since 2014, he has been a trustee of the Social Affairs Unit, a right-leaning think-tank.[7]

Elliott has been described by the BBC as "one of the most effective lobbyists at Westminster",[8] and in 2010 was named by Total Politics magazine as one of the top 25 political influencers in the UK.[9] In 2017 he was placed at Number 85 in commentator Iain Dale's list of 'The Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right'.[10]

Elliott is married to Sarah Elliott (née Smith), Chairwoman of Republicans Overseas UK. The couple have one son and live in a penthouse apartment in Brixton in South London. [11]

Career[edit]

Elliot served as press officer for the European Foundation from 2000, and political secretary to Timothy Kirkhope MEP from 2001.[2]

Lobbying[edit]

In 2004, Elliot co-founded the TaxPayers' Alliance with Andrew Allum. He served as Chief executive of the organisation until 2014.

In 2009, he founded the civil liberties and privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch, in response to "the prevailing climate of authoritarian and intrusive policies being pursued by the British state".

Referendums[edit]

NOtoAV[edit]

In 2011, he took a sabbatical to act as Campaign Director for the NOtoAV campaign during the 2011 United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum. NOtoAV were successful in maintaining the current voting system,[12] receiving 67.9% of the votes cast.[13] He is credited with helping to turn public opinion against the alternative vote, from 2 to 1 in favour to 2 to 1 against. The large victory for the NOtoAV campaign led to Elliot being praised as "...one of the most successful political campaigners in Westminster today". Tim Montgomerie wrote that "At the moment, he's there at the very top of centre-right campaigners in Britain...He does all the things that a successful campaigner needs to do. He has message discipline, he takes opinion research incredibly seriously, he's intelligent and works hard.'[4]

Vote Leave[edit]

Vote Leave campaign material

In October 2015, Elliot became the Chief executive of Vote Leave, a crossparty organisation formed to campaign to leave the European Union (EU).[14] Vote Leave later became the official campaigning organisation to leave the EU, after having been awarded the status by the Electoral Commission. The organisation managed to recruit the support of a number of high profile politicians, including Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who became key figureheads.

Despite a widespread belief that the Vote Leave campaign was heading for defeat, 52% of those who voted, or 37% of the electorate, voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, therefore meaning that Elliot's campaign emerged victorious. Upon victory, Elliot was praised alongside Vote Leave Campaign Director, Dominic Cummings, as being one of the key masterminds of the victorious campaign.[15]

In July 2018, an investigation by the UK's Electoral Commission found that Elliott's campaign broke UK electoral law.

According to a dossier sent by Vote to the Electoral Commission, the commission found the campaign group:

  • Made an inaccurate return of campaign expenditure
  • Is missing invoices and receipts
  • Failed to comply with a statutory notice, and
  • Exceeded its spending limit.

Elliott denied the findings.[5] In September 2018 the High Court ruled that the Electoral Commission had 'misinterpreted' the electoral law in relation to Vote Leave. [16]. Elliott noted that "Should the Electoral Commission choose not to appeal this judgment, they will be admitting that they gave Vote Leave incorrect advice and they should immediately reconsider the unfair fines they are seeking to impose on us." [17]

BrexitCentral[edit]

As of 2018 was the editor of the website BrexitCentral.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

Elliott was portrayed by actor John Heffernan in the 2019 HBO and Channel 4 produced drama entitled Brexit: The Uncivil War.[19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Vote Leave head Matthew Elliott: "The Brexiteers won the battle but we could lose the war"". New Statesman. 5 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Who's Who (164 ed.). A & C Black. 2011. ISBN 978-1-4081-4229-5.
  3. ^ T Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (Penguin Random House 2018) 105. C Cadwalladr, 'Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK' (4 Nov 2017) Guardian. S Walters, 'Putin's link to Boris and Gove's Brexit 'coup' revealed: Tycoon who netted millions from Russian gas deal funds think tank that helped write the ministers letter demanding May take a tougher stance on leaving the EU' (25 November 2017) Daily Mail[better source needed]
  4. ^ a b "Matthew Elliott: Man of the moment". prweek.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  5. ^ a b Kuenssberg, Laura. "Vote Leave broke electoral law, Electoral Commission expected to say", The BBC, London, 3 July 2018. Retrieved on 4 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Matthew Elliott Bio on Big Brother Watch". bigbrotherwatch.org.uk. Retrieved 25 August 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  7. ^ Who's Who 2014. A & C Black. November 2014.
  8. ^ Yes to AV campaign ‘will be fun’, say organisers, BBC News, 25 August 2011
  9. ^ Top 50 political influencers Archived 27 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Total Politics, 19 February 2010
  10. ^ Dale, Iain (2 October 2017). "The Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right: Iain Dale's 2017 List". LBC. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  11. ^ Dickson, Annabelle (31 May 2019). "PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — AT HOME WITH THE ELLIOTTS". Politico. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  12. ^ Vote 2011: UK rejects alternative vote, BBC News, 7 May 2011
  13. ^ UK-wide referendum on the Parliamentary voting system, Electoral Commission. Retrieved 29 March 2012
  14. ^ "The battle to be the official EU referendum Leave campaign". BBC News. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  15. ^ Payne, Sebastian (24 June 2016). "How Vote Leave won the EU referendum". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  16. ^ Electoral Commission 'misinterpreted' Vote Leave expenses, court rules, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45519676. Retrieved 10 September 2019
  17. ^ Electoral Commission 'misinterpreted' Vote Leave expenses, court rules, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45519676. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  18. ^ Elgot, Jessica. "Vote Leave fined and reported to police by Electoral Commission". 17 July 2018. The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  19. ^ Bennett, Asa (28 December 2018). "Brexit: The Uncivil War review: Benedict Cumberbatch is superb in this thrilling romp through the referendum". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  20. ^ Matthew Elliott (4 January 2019). "Vote Leave's Matthew Elliott on Channel 4's Brexit: The Uncivil War". Financial Times. Screenwriter James Graham has turned the campaign into a compelling story — and nailed my mannerisms