Alexander Nix
CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Come and meet the millionaires who are trying to buy up democracies and shrink states. They have infiltrated the supposedly strong and stable US system, as well as ours. What they do is not illegal – but it is unethical.

Think of them as political equity operators, asset strippers who want to get rid of checks, balances and regulations and then reshape nations. Elections are for wussies. Politicians are no more than puppets. The most prominent characters are fabulously rich white men who, perhaps, are tired of amusing themselves with flashy cars, yachts and islands. They play geopolitical games and win, grabbing unseen power.

Without their smart interventions and data mining, the Brexit and Trump results might have been very different. We are learning more about these backroom movers and shakers through the assiduous investigations carried out by two female journalists.

First came Jane Mayer, an award-winning journalist at the New Yorker who, in her book Dark Money uncovered the hidden circle of billionaires who "[exercise] their power from the shadows, meeting in secret, hiding their money trials, paying frontmen."

They fund hard-right think-tanks and journalists. They get access to information. They aim to get change the way America thinks, to marginalise and eliminate progressive thinking. Trump is simply the beneficiary, the mascot of this sinister league of power brokers.

In Britain, Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr has gone deep into the internet and talked to reliable sources to find out more about these networks and their plans for the UK. It is investigative journalism of the highest standard, morally-driven and rare in our impatient times.

She has discovered a lot of stuff about Robert Mercer, a brilliant, wealthy, secretive computer scientist who reportedly gave undeclared funds to the Leave campaign while allegedly avoiding boring old rules on election donations.

He bankrolled Trump's campaign too and is a very good friend of Nigel Farage. There are rumours of data gathering, modelling and psychological targeting of individual citizens via various secretive hi-tech companies that are part of this 'movement'.

Nigel Farage
Businessman Robert Mercer is reportedly a friend of anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Last February, Alexander Nix, CEO of one of those tech companies (Cambridge Analytica), told a magazine that they were working with Brexit promoters to "better understand and communicate with UK voters".

"We have already helped supercharge Leave.EU's social media campaign by ensuring the right messages are getting to the right voters online," he wrote.

A techie friend of mine explained what they actually do: "They go into your head, plant thoughts. They are able to sell you ideas better than any advertiser. They can even make you decide not to vote. It's really effective and really spooky."

The Information Commissioner is looking into the illegal use of data. The Electoral Commission, which should be looking into this massive scandal, is slow and rheumatoid.

Next, let me introduce Steve Bannon, another millionaire and key Trump appointee, who formally ran the notorious hard-right website Breitbart. Mercer invested millions of dollars in Bannon's pernicious site. Bannon has said he wants to arouse the bellicose and dissatisfied, to whip up populism and break down the walls of the establishment. This he has done and is still doing, relentlessly.

Now we have Aaron Banks, the biggest funder of Ukip and the man who spent millions on the Leave campaigns. Nothing wrong with that, you might say. But since the Brexit vote, he has promised to use his cash to help oust any Remain MPs, to "drain the swamp" – in his own words.

Recently Banks also bankrolled Westmonster, a news website modelled on Breitbart. It runs some of the most obnoxious articles on migrants and the left in general. Since the election was called, the shrillness and bias has got much worse. Farage is good friends with both these masters of the universe. Circles within circles.

And finally to Jeremy Hosking, a financier, steam locomotive collector and extreme Brexiter who wants to use his money to unseat Remainers fighting the election. I once had tea with Tony Benn and we talked about British elections and governance. Lobbyists, donors and unwholesome figures, he felt, had too much influence on politicians, especially on new Labour: "The British think corruption happens in Africa and India or Pakistan. Never here."

What is happening now is way beyond mere corruption. It is a bid for power, an ideological takeover. These conspirators want to dismantle the edifices and protections of liberal democracies, and, more worryingly, to establish an authoritarian, unequal, uncivil, right-wing state.

Stephen Kinnock, a Labour politician, is one of the few public figures to see our democracy is seriously imperilled by these operators. He has called for a public inquiry. He's likely not to get one. Theresa May is on course to win, and she is highly unlikely to go after these guys, who want what she now wants – a hard Brexit and nativist policies.