SCL Elections

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SCL Elections is an 'election services' company which is part of the Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) group. The company has been active worldwide since 1993 and offers "a fully comprehensive election campaign management solution...tailor-made to suit the specific requirements of our clients".[1] The company shares a headquarters with SCL in London, and many directors and staff with both SCL and the Behavioural Dynamics Institute (BDi) - which is said to provide the intellectual underpinning for the companies approach.[2]. The company states that it has worked on over 25 election campaigns worldwide, and managed 18 of those in their entirety - and claim to have "never lost an election which [they] have managed".[3]

The Company

SCL Elections is the Election Services Division of Strategic Communication Laboratories which is a UK Limited Company with head offices in London. SCL, it is made clear, is "a UK government approved commercial body authorised to undertake military and civilian projects for foreign clients". SCL has "‘List X’ accreditation from the British Government’s Ministry of Defence...which provides [them] with Government endorsed clearance to handle information protectively marked as ‘confidential’ and above".[4]


SCL Elections offer "advanced electoral polling, audience research and behavioural analysis" in running election campaigns, using "advanced scientific research and social analysis techniques adapted for civilian use from military applications to better understand behaviour within electorates" [5] - this follows the SCL/BDi group's modus operandi of applying techniques of psychology and social science to political and military ends. The company makes the rather sinister sounding guarantee to provide the "expertise and technical know-how needed to effectively orchestrate the behavioural change required to win an election campaign". [6]

The company claim to apply "advanced scientific methodologies" to electioneering, rather than "creative" approaches and "traditional marketing techniques"[7]. The methodology is based on "Target Audience Analysis" - providing "answers as to why people vote (or plan to vote) as they do, thereby enabling the development of effective campaign solutions....In other words, we help our clients identify the ‘buttons’ that need to be pressed and help press them, thereby guaranteeing electoral success"[8]. They also advertise the provision of a number of more commonplace electoral services: polling; media, brand, event and image management; campaign and fundraising strategy; and opposition and media research.

Specific Campaigns

Although the company is secretive and vague about their work, there are a number of allusions to work carried out, as well as vague descriptions of campaigns.

  • 1994 - South Africa - SCL Elections was tasked by a "political party to mitigate electoral violence across the country during elections through the production of a carefully controlled communication campaign designed to ensure that the process of political campaigning did not engender physical conflict".[9]
  • 1995-1999 - South America and the Caribbean - "SCL Elections assisted in the delivery of electoral success to clients in five countries over a 4 year period".[10]
  • 1995-2010 - United Kingdom - They claim to have worked on all three UK election campaigns over the past 15 years. Using "advanced behavioural polling and Target Audience Analysis" and providing "campaign consultancy and strategic guidance for a major political party and its individual candidates". [11]
  • 1999 - Indonesia - "SCL Elections was contracted to manage an election campaign for a major political party, which involved the targeting of more than 200 million people in more than forty languages". [12]
  • 2000 - Thailand - "over a 30 month period, SCL Elections was contracted to build and manage the world’s largest electoral campaign OpCentre in Thailand". [13]
  • 2005 - Iraq - SCL claim that its employees "were tasked with providing the strategic management of the first democratic elections in Iraq" while they were "in uniform".[14] It is unclear whether this was part of their job in the Army (the company employs a number of ex-military personel) or was subcontracted to SCL, although there are a number of links to suggest continued envolvement of the SCL group in Iraq and Afghanistan (For example: they are listed as partners of Wise Strategic Communication in supporting US forces in Afghnistan [15]
  • 2007 - Kenya - Their website states that "SCL Elections was contracted to help the incumbent President secure a second term in office, in an election shaped by tribal differences and marred by electoral violence. SCL Elections assisted a major political party with campaign research and formulation, providing a strategic road-map both for the party and for key individual candidates." The 2007 Kenyan election returned Mwai Kibaki to power, but he was forced to accept a coalition with a rival party after accusations by voters and international observers of widespread electoral fraud (by both main parties). The election result provoked widespread unrest in which over 1500 people died and 600,000 were made homeless [16]. Speculation continues that major politicians will be charged with crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Course for their role in the violence [17]
  • 2008 - Nepal - "SCL undertook a 5-month strategic planning consultancy to prepare Nepal for its first democratic elections in the wake of the collapsed monarchy. This included profiling the electorate and understanding electoral concerns and key obstacles to democracy" [18]
  • 2010 - St. Kitts and Nevis - Fully ran the successful parliamentary campaign of Labour Party incumbent Dr Denzil Douglas. [19]
  • 2014 Nigeria: SCL was hired in December 2014 to provide advertising and marketing services in support of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign. [20]

Campaigns in Antigua, St. Lucia, Philippines, Mauritius, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago are also referred to, although there are little details. [21]

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Little detailed information is available of the role that SCL Elections carry out in the campaigns they are involved in - though the example of their controversial work in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is illuminating.

Screengrab of Alexander Ashburner's page on the Athena Trust Website
Screengrab of Andrew Shepherd's page on the Athena Trust Website

In 2009 the Prime Minister of SVG, Ralph Gonsalves, held a press conference [22] in which he accused the opposition of using the services of SCL Elections to run the 'Vote No Campaign' for a referendum on constitutional change. Gonsalves accused the opposition of courting, and being funded by, groups who wish to maintain the practice of "economic citizenship" - which he calls "selling passports", and benefits economic migrants and tax exiles - mentioning in particular Henley & Partners, who describe themselves as "the world's leading specialists in international residence and citizenship planning".[23] Gonsalves makes the accusation that Henley & Partners funded SCL's contribution to the 'Vote No Campaign' - although this is unsubstantiated.

He does, however, point to some interesting features of SCL Elections involvement: particularly the links with another group called The Athena Trust, which claims to be "a global leader in market research, assessment and strategic consultation for governments, private companies and humanitarian endeavours" [24]. Two people who were listed as part of the trust 'team' at the time were "Alex Ashburner" and "Andrew Shepherd", who were respectively identified as Alexander Nix, Director of SCL Elections and Dr Andrew Ritcheson, former Director of the Behavioural Dynamics Institute. At the time Gonsalves pointed to the connection through identical photographs which appeared on the SCL and Athena Trust's websites, although the relevant section of the Athena Trust website has since been removed. However, there was evidence of these pages in Google's cache, which can be seen on the left. The two different individuals are identified by different names which are parts of their full names: Alexander James Ashburner Nix and Andrew Shepherd Ritcheson.



Non Executives

Board of Advisors

The "SCL Team"


SCL elections has the same address as Strategic Communication Laboratories:

33 St James's Square
United Kingdom

The company also advertises offices in the USA, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Singapore and St Vincent and the Grenadines


  1. "Company Overview", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19, 2010,
  2. "Company Overview", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  3. "FAQs", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19, 2010,
  4. "FAQs", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19, 2010,
  5. "Company Overview", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  6. "Company Overview", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  7. "History", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  8. "Company Overview", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  9. "History", SCL Elections. Accessed April 19 2010
  10. "History", SCL Elections. Accessed April 19 2010
  11. "United Kingdom", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  12. "History", SCL Elections. Accessed April 19 2010
  13. "History", SCL Elections. Accessed April 19 2010
  14. "Iraq, SCL Elections, April 19 2010
  15. "List of Clients", Wise Strategic Communication, Accessed April 19 2010
  16. "Kenya rivals agree to share power", BBC News, Accessed April 19 2010
  17. "ICC: Judges approve Kenyan investigation", Human Rights Watch, Accessed April 19 2010
  18. "Nepal", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  19. "St Kitts and Nevis", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  20. Carole Cadwalladr, Analytica's ruthless bid to sway the vote in Nigeria The Guardian, 21 March 2018, accessed same day
  21. "Sample Case Histories", SCL Elections, Accessed April 19 2010
  22. "Nov. 16, 2009 - PM Gonsalves' Press Conference", youtube, accessed April 21 2010
  23. "Henley & Partners", Henley Global website, accessed April 21 2010
  24. "Welcome to Athena", Athena Trust website, accessed April 21 2010