In the fourth of our exclusive Bremain interviews with high profile Remain activists, we meet Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote Project. Kyle set up the project in the wake of whistleblower allegations relating to global data misappropriation and law-breaking in the EU Referendum.
Based in London, United Kingdom, Kyle Taylor is the founder and director of The Fair Vote Project which is focused on lasting reform, campaigning for fundamental changes to the Electoral Commission and a Digital Bill of Rights for Democracy. He also works across a range of progressive political, cause-based and social enterprise projects through his Social Enterprise: Overton Group, with a particular specialisation in Millennial and Gen Z engagement.
Previously, Kyle was the national campaign strategist for Best for Britain, one of the UK’s largest second referendum organisations. He has also campaigned for a binding government-sanctioned NHS and care convention, worked on a migrant rights campaign in the Middle East and regularly supports an international education charity across a range of areas.
He co-managed the coordinated campaign for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina and in 2015 finished a four-year post as the Chief of Staff and Campaigns Director to the former Minister of State for Justice, Sir Simon Hughes. Kyle has lived on four continents and travelled and worked in over 100 countries. He also enjoys taking on immense physical challenges to raise money for charity. He has run the London marathon, swam an opener water marathon in the English channel, trekked to Everest Base Camp and summited Mount Kilimanjaro twice, personally raising over £30,000 for various charities. Kyle was a Presidential Scholar at The American University and graduated Summa cum Laude in 2006 with two bachelor’s degrees. While there he served as Student Government President and was selected to be student commencement speaker. He gained a Master’s Degree with distinction in International Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009.
Kyle is currently heading a legal challenge against the government, calling for a public inquiry into Brexit cheating
Sian Shaw: “What is the likely time frame for the legal process & how high do you rate your chances of success?”
Kyle Taylor: “Legal processes can take quite a while but we believe our aim has a high chance of success because it’s a very reasonable request of the government. The goal is for a decision by the end of the year but for the claim to be in progress when Parliament debates whatever deal (or no deal) that has been secured to put additional pressure on MPs.”
Pam Wallace: “There have been many court cases since Brexit and only one that has succeeded (Gina Miller). What do you see as different about this one?”
Kyle Taylor: “I think what’s different about this case is the basis of its claim. This suit isn’t about the merits of Leave or Remain – it’s about the fundamental institution of democracy, how that was undermined and abused in the referendum and why that justifies proper scrutiny, reform and remedy. This is something that everyone should be able to get behind whether leave or remain because it’s so much bigger than a single issue. This is about the very fabric that is meant to hold our democratic society together.”
Karen Watling: “Bearing in mind the vitriol that the referendum has wrought setting friend against friend and family against family, how do you see the future of the UK?”
Kyle Taylor: “I think – regardless of what happens with Brexit – we’re looking at another 5-10 years of discontent. I know that’s not an easy answer but I think it’s accurate. We’re at a crossroads as a country and, more broadly, as a collection of liberal democracies. This happens about every 100 years in the UK – a realignment of political parties and of the fundamental ideals that frame those parties’ core reason for being. This time, it’s the internationalists vs. the nativists. Brexit showed us this is the new fault line and no political party in its current iteration accurately represents those interests, leaving everyone feeling like they don’t REALLY have a proper partisan home. This realignment will be exhausting, fraught and complicated but in the end it will leave us with two new main parties that look and feel nothing like what they look and feel like now. The last thing I’ll say is that the core problem that will complicate this process is the propogation of “fake news” as it’s called. We need to – for the sake of democracy – fight the idea that there are mutliple truths immediately, incessantly and fully. A functioning society is dependent on shared information and shared experience. We’ve got to all be working from the same baseline truth and fact or else we’re genuinely living in alternate realities. There is a lot of work to do but I believe we can do it. Never give up. Never surrender!”
John Bentley: “Are you working in conjunction with other groups, especially those trying to secure either a second Brexit referendum or a people’s vote on the deal?”
Kyle Taylor: “Fair Vote is filing as the claimant but we very much welcome interventions from any and all interested parties. It’s important for the government, the courts and the public to see a broad range of organisations and individuals taking part in this case. Since the basis of our suit surrounds illegal activity in the referendum and our focus is on issues of democracy we are also hoping that organisations and individuals who supported leave but can see that some things – like safeguarding our democracy – are bigger than Brexit will also intervene.”
Roy Stonebridge: “Is Internet and social media campaigning controllable?”
Kyle Taylor: “In short, the answer is yes. That doesn’t mean, however, that we’re close to controlling these mediums. The biggest hurdles remain public awareness about these issues and lawmaker “literacy” around how digital spaces work. We’ve got 20th-Century lawmakers attempting to regulate 21st-Century technologies. The easiest “first step” is to require digital advertising to be treated the same as a leaflet that comes through a letterbox with an imprint so people know who sent it and from where. Couple that with an online database of all adds and easy access to targeting information (so people can find out exactly how and why something is showing up in their newsfeed) and we will be on our way. The next step is getting a full public inquiry started with a 12-month remit to investigate, take evidence and recommend immediate action to safeguard our democracy.”
Elspeth Williams: “Long-term campaigning is exhausting. How do you keep focused, stay positive, pick yourself up after a bad day?”
Kyle Taylor: “Oh my goodness, isn’t it?! This is particularly true when you feel like “your side” hasn’t had even a small victory in a long time. That’s because progress is always 8 little steps back then one GIANT step forward. I keep focussed – ironically – by checking out for at least an hour a day. I check out by watching an episode or two of my favourite TV show – Parks and Recreation – to get some inspiration from Leslie Knope. I also read fiction that’s entirely escapism every day. After a bad day I pick myself up by speaking to close friends while I fold laundry. I know it sounds bizarre but combining a mundane physical activity with “real” conversation to a close friend forces the brain to be fully present and pushes the bad day away. I also never make big decisions in the moment. Sleep on it and things inevitably make more sense the next day. I stay positive by remembering how many people there are working so hard to fight for what they believe in and also reminding myself that I am a very privileged person and with privilege comes responsibility to fight for those who aren’t able to.”
Pat Kennedy: “Can you give us one inspirational comment or quote to help keep us focused through this difficult time when it can be hard to keep optimistic.”
Kyle Taylor: “My goodness, there are so many quotes that keep me going. I’ll share two that I have written on my wall: “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” – JFK. Have any truer words been spoken? “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton. This resonates with me more than anything else right now because we’re in an environment that those opposed to our point of view suggest somehow it’s anti-country or anti-democracy to believe passionately in what we believe in. This is always the tactic of the powerful to suppress those resisting wrong. Did the suffragettes stop when it got hard? No. Did the allied forces give up when the Nazis were storming across Europe? No. Fighting for what’s right, true and just is always worth it.”
You can find out more information at Fair Vote or on Twitter @fairvoteuk
Next month Bremainers will be putting questions to Votes for Life campaigner Harry Shindler MBE.