Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and some concrete parrots

About once a month I tweet something of interest to more than a few dozen people, and this month that tweet is about a picture of Donald Trump and his daughter. For context, this is one of a series of pictures taken in 1997, making one of the most offensive things in the picture those ankle socks, worn about a decade after Don Johnson Miamied his last Vice. There are other unsettling components of this picture, but I trust that astute readers will note that I myself only comment facetiously on the alleged sex lives of an uncertain number of concrete parrots. I certainly make no mention of questionable comments that Trump has made repeatedly about his daughter (see examples here and here).

At the time of writing this has been Retweeted about 4,000 times and Liked about 3,500 times, resulting in an estimated 900,000 Impressions… and about 500 replies. The vast majority of said replies are on the subject of what that look and caress implies (mainly involving the words ‘Ew!’ or ‘creepy’, and/or a variety of wishes to unsee that which cannot be unseen) but there are also a few messages from supporters of Donald Trump, and I’d like to share some of those with you now.

To be clear, I am only including replies to me and me alone (i.e. not to anyone else who may have extrapolated something more from this picture than the alleged sex lives of inanimate parrots). Rather than dissect the replies, I think I will simply allow them to speak for themselves.

(Quick note for the record: I had by this time already jovially mentioned the possibility that they were macaws, and in any case… macaws are parrots!)

I will close only by (a) saying how genuinely touched and encouraged I am by the few replies that try to correct me gently on my joke about the parrots, and (b) urging any new readers to avoid replying to the angrier tweets; regulars know by now that there really is no point.

UPDATE – Some late additions:

UPDATE (3 Feb) – Breaking the rule about ‘only including replies to me alone’ here, mainly because this one is too good too miss. That’s not his daughter, it’s his wife! Erm, no. It’s definitely his daughter.

Also, here’s a comment from a well-wisher near Atlanta, Georgia who submitted their thoughts under the wrong article. Rather than waste it, I present it here as a screen capture in all its unedited glory. I will stress yet again that I have only ever commented on the alleged sex lives of concrete parrots. Seeing as the author is dimly aware of the phenomena of psychological projection, I will trust them to take a moment to ponder quietly on the potential significance of a Freudian slip in “you should keep your hands on children” and leave it at that.

Trump comment

Oh, and if the FBI get in touch, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

UPDATE (5 Feb) – So my tweet featured on AOL.com the other day. Yes, AOL is still a thing, and there are many, many more Trump supporters among users of the AOL website than there are on Twitter. Make of that what you will.

Out of nearly 3,000 comments (not a typo: at time of writing, there are 2,993), there were hundreds from users saying that they saw nothing inappropriate about the photo, only the healthy love that all daughters have for their fathers, and anybody who read anything more into it must be some kind of pervert. Many others speculated that myself and the Mashable author who wrote the piece were part of a coordinated sleaze/attack campaign connected to “libtards” generally, and Hillary Clinton specifically (cue multiple mentions of Bill Clinton and his cigar). At one stage I was even accused of being directly funded/employed by the Koch brothers. There were multiple comments speculating on the Mashable author’s sexuality (the word “dyke” is used often) and there were many, many people who wanted us all to know with a high degree of certainty that the concrete parrots in the picture are definitely not having sex (because of the way they are facing, the position of the wings, the looks on their faces, etc. etc.) and I must be an ultra-pervert to even think such a thing.

If you’re the type of person who slows down for car crashes, I recommend persevering with the ‘load more comments’ button and browsing for yourself, but do take a cut lunch and a water bottle with you. Here, I will only feature a small collection of my very favourite comments from people who are most upset that myself or anyone else dared to speculate about somebody else’s sex life (and here I will stress once again that – even now – I have still only gone so far as to comment facetiously on the parrots):

Trump/AOL comment 1

Trump/AOL comment 2

Trump/AOL comment 3

Trump/AOL comment 4

Trump/AOL comment 5

Personally, I’m thinking the last one especially takes the perversion projection just a teensy bit far. Or am I being unfair?








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 3 Comments

David Cameron’s not-so-independent inquiry into (some) bullying

Over the last few weeks, David Cameron has been under a lot of public pressure to deliver an independent inquiry into a bullying problem in his party. If you are new to this, here is an earlier post with all of the key developments.

It is worth reiterating that (a) Cameron did not feel under pressure to deliver on an independent inquiry until his old friend and close ally Lord Feldman was under threat, (b) that he began by trying to present/spin the Tory party inquiry as an independent inquiry, and (c) the ‘independent’ inquiry he finally offered is in the hands of a private law firm with close ties to the Conservative Party.

It is also worth mentioning that while Cameron continues to deny the public a full and truly independent inquiry, a trial by media is taking place and getting increasingly seedy. Close friends and allies of Mark Clarke are being allowed to pretend distance from his antics, and some of them are doing this while simultaneously leaking/publishing information that is of potential benefit to Clarke and/or damaging to his perceived enemies. I will leave you to guess at the likely source. One low point in this ugly farrago was an article in The Sun that used a flimsy premise and dishonest presentation to imply that Elliott Johnson was prone to suicidal thoughts long before any alleged bullying took place. Another was when one of Cameron’s own ministers saw fit to attack the character and question the motives of Elliott’s grieving parents.

But getting back to that not-so-independent inquiry, I invite to read the remit that the Conservative Party finally published a week after being asked for it. I draw your attention to the opening passages:

Clifford Chance LLP is instructed as follows:

1. To collect, collate, review and assess witness and documentary evidence relevant to:

i. Allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour by Mark Clarke and other members of the Party connected to him towards members and activists of the Party from 1 January 2014 to 18 November 2015, paying particular attention to the circumstances leading up to Elliott Johnson’s death.

ii. Allegations that, between 1 January 2014 to 18 November 2015, CCHQ deliberately ignored and/or condoned the behaviour referred to above and/or failed to respond properly or adequately to complaints received about Mark Clarke’s conduct and specifically the complaint received from Elliott Johnson on 14 August 2015.

I expected it to be narrow, but this is absurdly self-serving.

Were you bullied by a Conservative other than Mark Clarke and/or ‘members connected to him’?

They don’t care.

Were you bullied by someone associated with Mark Clarke who is not a member of the party?

They don’t care.

Were you bullied by Mark Clarke and/or ‘members connected to him’ earlier than 1 January 2014?

They don’t care.

Did you complain about bullying from Mark Clarke and/or ‘members connected to him’ before 1 January 2014 and have that complaint ignored?

They don’t care.

Did you complain about bullying by a Conservative other than Mark Clarke and/or ‘members connected to him’ before or after 1 January 2014 and have that complaint ignored?

They don’t care.

I was bullied by a Conservative, I reported it as recently as February 2015, the complaint was disregarded and leaked in line with an emerging pattern of institutional failure no-one is looking into… but it is nothing to do with Mark Clarke and/or ‘members connected to him’.

I specifically asked Clifford Chance if the behaviour I reported falls outside of their remit.

They won’t say.

I asked what budget if any was allocated to reaching out to potential victims who are not members of the Conservative Party.

They won’t say.

I asked what promises/guarantees Clifford Chance made about confidentiality to alleged victims (in light of concerns about a pattern of leaks).

They won’t say.

I also asked Clifford Chance if a potential conflict of interest might arise if in the process of this inquiry they discovered evidence that put a client of theirs on the wrong side of a civil or criminal law.

They won’t say.

I have no confidence in this inquiry, and a large part of that is the narrow remit that is designed to disguise a widespread bullying problem in the party and associated institutional failures that led us to this point.

Elliott Johnsons’ parents recently announced that they will be boycotting the inquiry, and given the cool, calculating, and downright cruel way the Conservatives have behaved so far, I can’t say that I blame them.

In fact, I would suggest that any witnesses or victims considering a report to the not-so-independent inquiry (contact: CPreview@cliffordchance.com) consider taking up the Johnsons on their offer to contact their solicitor (contact: Jane Deighton via mail@dpglaw.co.uk).

Meanwhile, I will continue to press for an independent and wide-ranging inquiry and I urge you to join me.

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Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

RIP Tom Barry of @BorisWatch

I have just learned that Tom Barry of @BorisWatch/BorisWatch.co.uk has died suddenly at the all-too-young age of 41.

I’ve no doubt that his immediate family are in shock and have some serious grieving ahead of them, but if they’re reading this at any stage I hope that it will comfort them to know about Tom’s other family.

This morning I have watched a wave of sentiment on Twitter from friends of Tom and fans of his work on @BorisWatch and associated projects. What Tom did on an entirely voluntary basis was face up to some of the most devious, disingenuous and downright unpleasant people in politics with relentless good humour and the sharpest of wits.

Tom not only sought to stem the tide of bile and bullshit with incredible tenacity, but he did so in a way that gave strength and comfort to people who might otherwise let it wash over them.

This contribution amounts to so much that I draw some strength from knowing all of the good that Tom did with the life that he had, and how much of his spirit is likely to live on in others.

We may have lost Tom to the void, but part of me dares hope that it is inexplicably a brighter place now, despite the odds. I know this world is.

ELSEWHERE:

Tim Fenton: So Farewell Then Tom Barry
Darryl Chamberlain: Some thoughts on the passing of Tom Barry (@BorisWatch)
John B: He Was Watching The Defectives
David Allen Green: Farewell to BorisWatch
Dave Hill: A small tribute to Tom Barry of BorisWatch
Alex Ingram: What I learnt from following BorisWatch

This from Alex is spot on:

(Tom) seemed to live not only to find things out but to share them as widely as possible.

Tom was an insightful and informed data evangelist. He was the kind of rare person that Jesus of Nazareth reportedly described as ‘the salt of the earth’ and the ‘the light of the world’.

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Posted in Humanity, Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

Elliott Johnson, bullying complaints and the Conservative Party

I will get straight to the point. My concern is twofold:

1. I am concerned that Elliott Johnson complained to CCHQ that he was being bullied, was suddenly confronted with an escalation of bullying because someone at CCHQ had leaked the details of his complaint to the person targeting him, and perceived himself to be in such a hopeless and isolated position that a tragedy resulted.

2. I am further concerned that the Conservative party will struggle to learn from the findings of an internal investigation with a narrow remit by a former party candidate and ‘aspiring MP’, and will risk the rights and well-being of others purely because they are concerned about their image at a crucial time when they are trying to portray a resurgent opposition as a bunch of bullies.

This is not wild speculation. I have experienced similar problems myself with CCHQ, and the result of their indiscretion and neglect was escalation up to and including repeated false allegations of child rape and suggestions from my bully that I should “drink bleach” or otherwise do myself in. Bullies often escalate when they think they are under threat, and even revisit this behaviour when the heat is off if they discover they have been able to use certain behaviours without consequence. The most recent messages (yes, this is still happening) assure me that if I will soon end up in jail or “topped” if I continue to ‘whine’ about it.

Obviously, I risk further escalation for daring to raise these issues publicly, but I do not see that I have much of a choice; I have raised my concerns about this privately with CCHQ, and they continue to be lackadaisical and dismissive about it, even now.

I attempted contact with the Chairman two weeks ago. I raised concerns about how previous complaints were handled and sought his assurance that any future complaints would be handled appropriately. I also asked for a suitable email address for concerned members of the public who might wish to contact him in confidence. Let’s deal with the response to the latter request first:

At present, if you think yourself to be a victim of bullying by Tory activists, you are advised to complain ‘in writing’ by email to chairman@conservatives.com

However, this advice is not publicised in any meaningful way; I only have it because I asked for it. There’s vague talk of email(s) to an unknown number of members of the Conservative party, but there has been no attempt by the Conservatives to reach out to potential victims outside of the party (which is typical as it is short-sighted), and there has been no attempt to make this point-of-contact for victims of bullying obvious and readily-accessible on the web, despite the recent tragedy. It would cost the Conservative Party next to nothing to create a single web page on their site asking for victims of bullying to come forward. Why doesn’t such a page exist? (Rhetorical question: we all know why.)

Further, any complaint that does get sent to chairman@conservatives.com will not only be read by the Chairman, but somewhere between six and a dozen other people who play an unknown role behind the scenes. You will also most likely receive a reply from a person other than the Chairman, claiming to act on their behalf, who will not give their last name. None of this will fill victims with confidence, even if they get this far.

Some might see this less-than-confidential channel as a potential security issue given the closeness of someone like Mark Clarke to a previous Chairman, and the allegations of leaks of complaints that have been sent in recent times. It is certainly an issue to someone who, for example, has been lured into a ‘sex act’ online and has been threatened with public exposure; surely someone who has been put in such a position deserves actual confidentiality?

There is also the minor problem that the present Chairman, Lord Feldman: (a) does not recognise that leaks/disclosures of complaints about bullying have happened in the past, and (b) appears utterly unconcerned that acting Chairmen including Sayeeda Warsi and Grant Shapps have been directly and demonstrably involved in such leaks/disclosures.

If Lord Feldman does not recognise these events and take steps to acknowledge and address them, then any assurance on his behalf by some-guy-called-Nick about complaints being treated in a “sensitive and confidential manner” is meaningless, especially when it is matched with a claim that “the Conservative Party has always taken any accusations of bullying seriously,” because it quite evidently hasn’t.

To be clear on this point: Lord Feldman has been sent an early draft of this article containing the relevant allegations and has declined to comment. The present Chairman cannot and will not deny that former Chairmen have been directly involved in the leaking of complaints about bullying to those who are alleged to be involved in the bullying. But there won’t be any investigation into that, because politics.

It is a pity that the present Chairman does not see any reason to acknowledge past failures and establish new protocols that are designed to better-protect victims of bullying and encourage them to come forward. It is a key reason why an internal party inquiry has no legitimacy and no hope of uncovering the full picture.

There needs to be an independent inquiry not only into this issue, but how reports of bullying have been handled under David Cameron’s leadership in recent years.

Please take the time to sign the petition in support of an independent inquiry.

Victims of bullying should be made to feel safer from the moment their concerns are first heard. They should not be made to feel less safe because the only person paying any attention to their complaint is their bully.

At present, there are many people – including myself* – who are past and/or present targets of bullying by party members, but dare not report the detail because of well-placed concerns that sensitive data will be dismissed with a sniff and shared without a thought. If the Conservative Party cannot and will not show that this attitude has changed, they will continue having a problem even if they set out with the best of intentions from this point on.

(*To make my own interest in this matter clear: I continue to be targeted by a bully because I dared to report bullying. This bullying mainly takes the form of a bully shouting ‘bully’ at me, but he makes other allegations of criminal behaviour such as stalking and monetary fraud, and other party members – including MPs who should know better – often join in. This is called ‘projection’. Grant Shapps became so upset with me over this report of his bullying that he repeated some of these allegations in his formal capacity as Party Chairman. This is called ‘displacement’. The party promised my lawyers a reponse to the latter behaviour ‘shortly after the election’. We’re still waiting.)

Please, please take the time to sign the petition in support of an independent inquiry.

UPDATE (25 Oct) – Elliott Johnson’s father Ray Johnson has called for a Scotland Yard inquiry and in the relevant article, the Daily Mail reveal that there are victims who are too afraid to submit evidence to an internal inquiry because of earlier leaks. By this stage, it is fair to say that CCHQ are actively avoiding the idea of an independent inquiry… but this same attitude of putting party image before principle is what led to this mess in the first place. It is also fair to say that Ray Johnson’s concerns about a cover-up are well placed. Lord Feldman already knows that they will not hear from all victims if CCHQ press ahead with an internal inquiry; this in itself is a form of cover-up.

UPDATE (28 Oct) – Read Ray Johnson’s open letter to Lord Feldman here.

UPDATE (19 Nov) – In a deeply cynical move, yesterday the Tory party banned Mark Clarke from the party for life as a bold and (they hoped) spectacular sacrifice ahead of a highly damaging Newsnight report. It is blindingly obvious that this was done in an attempt to protect the senior Tories who neglected the problem of bullying in their ranks for years. The senior Tories who have serious questions to answer are (surprise, surprise) former party Chairs Sayeeda Warsi and Grant Shapps… oh, and the current Chairman Lord Feldman:

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath, told Newsnight he first raised concerns about Clarke’s behaviour with party bosses in 2010 and had discussed Clarke with current party chairman Lord Feldman and Baroness Warsi, chair from 2010 to 2013. Mr Howlett said: “We’ve complained about him [Clarke] for a long period of time, and it’s not just him, it was people that were attributed to him as well. I complained when I was national chairman directly to Sayeeda Warsi as the party chairman, I complained directly to the chairman’s office when Grant Shapps took over as the party chairman and I have to say Lord Feldman has been well aware of all this, for a very long period of time.”

It should not be left to the media to investigate this. There needs to be a formal, independent inquiry into how bullying complaints generally have been handled by Warsi, Shapps, Feldman and every other Chairman serving under Cameron’s leadership.

UPDATE (20 Nov) – Things are moving very quickly now. The scandal has exploded onto the front page of today’s Daily Mail, the Tories look like they are lining Mr Shapps up to be next under the bus, and Feldman is rushing to lend the internal inquiry credibility with appeals for victims to come forward and offers of an independent review after the fact.

(Meanwhile, it has been rightly pointed out on ConservativeHome of all places that Feldman’s own defence about what he knew when is undermined by his serving as Chairman alongside both Warsi and Shapps.)

Feldman is forced to make these gestures because he knows that myself and others been right all along about the need for an independent inquiry.

One of the problems with the internal inquiry (that the Tories are not inclined to publish) is its narrow remit. What has caused this issue to be recognised as the scandal it is: the appearance of a series of witnesses now including a Tory MP (Ben Howlett) who testify that they too made complaints to Warsi and Shapps about bullying, only to be ignored and/or subjected to further bullying as a result.

It is no coincidence that this mirrors my experience, because this has been an institutional problem with the Conservative Party for a very, very long time, and that is why members, victims and public generally need and deserve an independent inquiry into how bullying complaints have been handled by Chairmen serving under Cameron’s leadership.

To hurry things along, I have chosen to use my own circumstances to press the issue. A recent statement claimed that the party is now willing to look into complaints as far back as 2007. I expect that they mean but do not say that this promise is restricted to ‘complaints about Mark Clarke and maybe his associates’, and so have written the following email to Lord Feldman putting him on the spot and make it public here so there is no question about the hole he has dug for himself:

From: Tim Ireland
To: chairman@conservatives.com
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 11:00 AM
Subject: My complaint

Dear Lord Feldman (and assorted underlings),

I am informed that recently the party “vowed to keep searching for complaints made as far back as 2007″.

So, will you be accepting my complaint at last, or admitting that your internal inquiry has such an impossibly narrow remit as to make it irrelevant?

I can demonstrate that both Warsi and Shapps mishandled serious and valid complaints about bullying. Further, I can demonstrate that both Grant Shapps and David Cameron turned a blind eye when it emerged that Jonathan Lord had done the same on a local/association level.

I have hard evidence to support all of the above, including emails, tracking from same, and a recording of Jonathan Lord.

Do you wish to accept evidence of mishandling of complaints of bullying, or are you ready to admit that your internal inquiry is only making limited inquiries that focus on the alleged conduct of Mark Clarke?

Also, when can I expect the response that the party promised about what Grant Shapps published about me in his capacity as co-Chairman? Your letter promised a reply soon after the election, but I am still waiting.

Regards,

Tim Ireland

At present, Feldman’s options are:

1. Admit the internal inquiry has a narrow remit, but brazen it out anyway
2. Accept that the issue isn’t merely about the behaviour of some young(ish) activists but how complaints about bullying have handled by a series of Chairmen
3. Ignore a legitimate complaint about bullying that rings exactly the same alarm bells that everybody ignored when people first started complaining about Mark Clarke.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Meanwhile, I will sign off for now by noting that the anonymous bullying targeting me has grown in intensity since I dared to highlight this issue, and a relevant author of that bullying has seen fit to quietly delete a tweet that made oblique reference to their knowledge of a letter of complaint that was sent to the Prime Minister through Grant Shapps in confidence.

UPDATE (28 Nov) – First up, this recent article in the Guardian is an absolute MUST-READ. It is an excellent and detailed piece on the circumstances/days leading up to Elliott Johnson’s death. Also popular today is Ray Johnson’s call for Feldman and Shapps to accept responsibility for their actions, and I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with his view that there is not only a need for an independent inquiry into the Tory party’s handling of bullying, but an independent body to handle complaints of bullying involving all parties going forward; the Tories aren’t the only tribe with members who put party before principle or otherwise mishandle complaints.

Finally, today I draw your attention toward Sayeeda Warsi’s letter showing that she complained directly to Grant Shapps about Mark Clarke specifically in January of this year and “never received a satisfactory response”.

Three things to note:

1. Warsi could and should have released this earlier in the previous weeks when her party was denying any previous knowledge of Clarke’s behaviour. She didn’t. This is an act of political survival, and not one of principle.

2. The only correspondence that Warsi can produce to show that she had expressed concern about Clarke resulted purely from her concerns that she herself had been targeted with some false allegations. There is no evidence to show that she acted to protect anyone but herself.

3. If Sayeeda Warsi regards her complaint to be valid, then she must also recognise that the complaint that I am aware of that went to her office about bullying was equally valid. But Warsi did not act on the body of the complaint and instead disclosed it to the alleged bully. The target of the bullying then complained to Warsi about this behaviour… and “never received a satisfactory response”. In fact, I can demonstrate through emails from Warsi’s office that this complaint was also disclosed to that same bully, quite brazenly.

Baroness Warsi has some serious questions to answer about her own handling of complaints of bullying and the political usefulness of her disclosure must not be allowed to draw attention away from that.

I have today emailed Warsi about my concerns, and I will let you know if she has any comment/regrets abouts the event I describe… or if she chooses to maintain a strategic silence in order to protect her own neck, just like her fellow former Chairman Mr Shapps.

UPDATE (29 Nov) – Sayeeda Warsi has received my email, and has no comment to offer, and no regret to express. Grant Shapps has resigned from the government (though he remains an MP), Lord Feldman is shitting bricks, and the Prime Minister is responding to calls for an independent inquiry…. by pretending that the existing party inquiry is independent. The audacity is breathtaking:

“The Conservative party has an independent inquiry under way under the oversight of a senior legal figure. I feel deeply for his parents. It is an appalling loss to suffer, and that’s why it is so important that there is the proper independent inquiry. There needs to be, and there is, a proper inquiry to ask all the questions and interview all the people who come forward and that will take place. There is an independent lawyer from Clifford Chance, who will oversee that process and make sure that it reaches clear conclusions from the evidence that comes through.” – David Cameron (source)

There is nothing new in what Cameron offers, and he is trying to spin his way out of it. I am appalled. Utterly appalled.

David Cameron is a weak leader of a corrupt institution. He knows there is worse to come. That is why he prefers to risk a media storm rather than commission an actual independent inquiry into how bullying complaints have been handled under his leadership.

UPDATE (01 Dec) – With his close friend Feldman under pressure to resign, Cameron has now offered to pass the entire investigation to law firm Clifford Chance (rather than simply have them review it after the fact) and twinned this with an offer to publish the resulting report. That it has taken us this long to get these minor allowances is a disgrace, and it still falls short of what is required, not least because of an evidently narrow but as-of-yet undisclosed remit.

Recent events have shown a pattern of negligent if not corrupt behaviour involving a series of Chairmen (ignore the complaint, leak/disclose the complaint to the subject). It is only right that an independent inquiry looks into the institutional failures that eventually led to the tragedy of Eliiott Johnson’s suicide, not merely the events surrounding the suicide itself. That means an inquiry into how complaints of bullying have been handled by a series of party Chairmen and others with similar authority operating under Cameron’s leadership.

It is also important this this inquiry be conducted by a public body, and not a private law firm with close ties to the Conservative Party.

UPDATE (15 Dec) – NEW POST: David Cameron’s not-so-independent inquiry into (some) bullying

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Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

It’s time for the Conservatives to take bullying seriously

cambullys

The Conservative Party is a deeply tribal organisation, which might in part explain why outsiders are targeted with bullying so often, and why the party apparatus at a local and national level works so effectively to protect those doing the bullying. However, it is now clear that the problem is so pronounced that bullying happens within party ranks, and to such an extent that tragedies unfold before anything meaningful is done.

I work in a youth organisation where it is seen as vitally important that those in a position of responsibility recognise bullying when it is happening and take immediate measures to address the problem quickly, sensitively, and intelligently. In fact, bullying is taken so seriously that the relevant training is a requirement for all adults caring for young people, and I will stress here that we are not trained to wait for a complaint before we act (for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has experienced bullying as a child or adult).

In political campaigning, passions run high and many young people seek to get involved, but I will bet you dollars to donuts that no such training is set as a requirement for candidates, campaign leaders, and/or fundraising executives. In fact, I am painfully aware of situations where bullying from Conservative members/activists has become rampant, but the Conservative Party have refused to conduct an internal inquiry or consider any corrective action because (a) an email was sent reporting the behaviour but they demanded a complaint ‘in writing’, (b) the target of the alleged bullying had not submitted a complaint themselves, (c) police had decided not to take action about a single incident reported to them in the course of the wider bullying, and – my very favourite – (d) an election was in progress at the time, and there were concerns that acting on the complaint might harm the chances of the party and its candidates (two of whom were directly involved in the alleged bullying).

It is sometimes the case where bullying is so out of control that MPs engage in bullying behaviour to intimidate their own constituents. I know of one incident where a constituent sought to report such behaviour to the Chairman, and they responded by simply forwarding the entire email to the relevant MP.

There has even been a recent event where a serving Chairman has been directly involved in bullying of their own constituent.

It is long past time for the Conservative Party to take bullying seriously. There should be an independent inquiry into how bullying complaints have been handled under Cameron’s leadership, and the public should be consulted as part of the process because there are likely to be many incidents that went unrecorded. This is the only way to determine the scale of the problem and the shortfalls of the system in place before recommendations are made for improvements that are long overdue.

I urge you to sign this petition in support of this proposed action, and share it with your friends.

Political leaders generally need to be more aware of what can go wrong when passions run high. The Conservative Party leader specifically needs to take responsibility for repeated failures to address the resulting problems under their leadership.








Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

And now, the national anthem…

I’d like to set out my stall by first pointing out that the Queen is the head of state (for roughly a dozen countries, IIRC), and not a bludgeoning device to be used for party-political games. It also needs to be noted that a few weeks before The Sun bravely condemned Jeremy Corbyn for ‘disrespecting the Queen’, they bravely condemned the Queen for allegedly making a Nazi salute when she was a child. As the follow-up talking points from a range of Tories revealed, this is merely an excuse to once again push the line that Corbyn is an far-left extremist who wants to overthrow the monarchy, piss on the flag, and eat your babies. If he had sung along, they would instead have called him a hypocrite. Anything to draw attention away from an uncomfortable PMQs for Cameron and the tax credit debate that’s unfolding.

I don’t know about you, but as an agnostic, when I am in church and the hymns begin, I remain silent, but stand respectfully. I’m not causing a fuss. I’m not contradicting or condemning anyone. I am merely exercising my right to not sing along to lyrics that have a deep and religious meaning and purpose that I do not agree with.

A similar convention exists with the national anthem in many countries, including this one. You can, do and should have the freedom to remain seated if you wanted to, but it’s polite to stand, and it’s perfectly OK to not sing along… particularly if you’re Scottish and the assembly is going all the way to the 4th verse.

If the false patriots of The Sun are going to bleat about British values and British traditions, they should acknowledge that Britain is becoming an increasingly enlightened and secular country over time, and everybody should have the right to express their views in any case.

It is perfectly acceptable to hope that Britain can move forward one day without a head of state who was born to the role according to the perceived will of the alleged god of Abraham. It is equally acceptable to decline to sing lyrics that actively pray to that alleged god for an indefinite extension of the status quo.

All of that said, if you wanted to fully exercise your right to free speech, I humbly submit to you three alternative versions of the national anthem for you to sing at appropriate gatherings or in the privacy of your own home:

1. The Inclusive Anthem

I wrote this a few years ago for the benefit of people of alternative faiths who also wished to voice their support for our Queen:

For spontaneity, ask every deity;
‘God(s) save the Queen’.
Brahma & Ek Onkar,
Odin & Zeus & Ra,
Yahweh, Baal, Arinna;
God(s) Save the Queen!

2. ‘God Bless My Underwear’

This is a variation on a classic that I wrote for a campfire songbook. It takes a minor liberty with the structure of the verses, but that is the least of its sins:

God hear my sacred prayer, please bless my underwear
Make them pristine
This is my only pair
Save me from wear and tear
Don’t let my bum go bare
God, keep them clean.
(da-da da-da da-da)
God hear my under-prayer,
Because you’re everywhere,
While you are down in there,
God, keep them clean.

3. The Air Guitar Anthem

And, finally, for those narcissists who see no reason to worship or praise anyone but themselves, I present to you the ultimate in anthemic self-indulgence. It is important that at the key moment* you reveal your air guitar and invisible pick with a flourish, assume the position (legs apart, hips forward), then begin pseudo-shredding while making electric guitar noises to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen’. With gusto.

I am a big rock star
This is my air guitar*
Wah-wah-wah-wahhhh
Wang-wang wahhhh-wang-wang
Diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-waaaah-kerrang
Wah wah-wah wah-wah wahhhh wah-wang
Wah-wah-wah-WAHHHHH!

Thank you, Cleveland, and goodnight.

-








Posted in Christ..., Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

The return of ‘JPEG Baby’

Way back in 2003, on the same weekend that Jemini were bottoming out in the Eurovision Song Contest, I released my very first animation. It was a music video for JPEG Baby, a song written by me and composed, performed and produced by Koit.

I am proud to announce that this interwebs classic has a brand new video and is now available to buy on iTunes. The song and the video are both mildly NSFW, but not graphic in nature. Just a wee bit naughty.

I trust that those to you who are new to the song will appreciate its subtle cautionary overtones.

Buy this song now on iTunes!

JPEG Baby cover art








Posted in Consume!, Flash Music Video, Games and Objects, Teh Interwebs | Comments Off

[post updated]

UPDATE (20 September) – It’s not often that I will simply withdraw an article, but there have been two major developments, one of which being that Twitter have finally taken the matter seriously and suspended the multiple sock-puppet accounts involved.

I will spell out the other development in good time, but for now it is sufficient to say that from this point on – by describing a risk that is no longer pronounced – this article risked doing some else’s dirty work for them. So it has been withdrawn, because I’m not an idiot.

An article specifically about the extraordinary behaviour that necessitated this article will most likely be published at some stage in the future. As you might imagine, I was quite assiduous about keeping a record of the relevant accounts and what their output revealed about the author (and those who made the mistake of associating with them).

Cheers all.








Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | 3 Comments

‘The British People’ vs. Tim Ireland

Late last year, an anonymous Twitter account appeared that was dedicated to publishing, popularising and/or attaching my name to some rather inflammatory allegations. I was very much the central focus of this account, but it also targeted several people close to me.

In the run-up to the general election, I announced my intention to stand as an independent Parliamentary candidate in Mid Bedfordshire, and the anonymous author literally begged me to do so, goading me with the promise of ‘exposure’.

By April I was formally approved as a candidate and campaigning in earnest, but shortly after the Shefford Hustings event, the author became increasingly upset that I had dared to run at all, and appeared quite concerned that I might petition the results. In fact, the author alleged that this had been my intention all along, and sought to use this premise to portray my campaign as an illegitimate or even criminal conspiracy to undermine British democracy.

A fortnight ago, the author began a 10 day countdown as the vilification on their anonymous Twitter account increased in intensity. On May 4th, the countdown culminated in the publication of a letter to me that they had written ‘on behalf of the British people’. It begins by accusing me of “(abusing my) privileges as a foreigner living as a resident here in Great Britain” before descending into a series of dark threats. The author simultaneously announced that they were going into ‘standby’ mode, ready to begin their Twitter assault anew should this be necessary in their view.

I have declined to so much as hint at the likely identity of the author, and I choose to allow them to carry the weight of specific allegations they make in order to justify their position, which is why they are not repeated here.

Other than the removal of two blocks of text containing those allegations, the following text is entirely unedited.

What I present first is the clear indication of what they are most upset about….

Your methods have often been sly & underhand. You’re running for parliament, for example, is a slight against our great democracy. You dared wrap yourself in our flag but all you wanted was to rile one candidate during the election campaign and, drawing on old electoral laws, have them removed with an “election petition” after the election. Well, that’s just not the British way.

… and then the main body of the letter, including the threats made by the author if I do not ‘take this chance at peace’ and back off:

Your lies have got you in a terrible pickle. At this time your plans are in tatters and your reputation has been incinerated beyond repair.

Note also that here in Britain every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. We are a very fair-minded lot, you see. And so in this sympathetic vein …

WE NOW OFFER YOU ONE LAST CHANCE …

Since you are now neutralized, you may now write your blog and tweet as much as you like henceforth.

But do so in a civilised manner which shows empathy for the people you are pursuing. Think of their real-world families, friends and colleagues before posting or tweeting. Do not smear. Triple check your facts before causing people pain.

And for God’s sake, stop optimising abuse about them on Google. That is just cowardly with a capital C.

OR

Just as has been the case over the last four or five years, the resistance movement against you will crush you into the ground. And, let’s face it, you have suffered. It was your terrible decision to put yourself on a pedestal and look where it got you. You’ve lost almost everything, Mr Ireland.

Of course, cowards who are exposed (as you have been) will crack (as you have).

For every abusive tweet there will be a hundred resistance tweets returned. For every twisted post there will be widespread coverage across various media of your past misdemeanours. For every link you add to a negative post about one of your victims we shall link-build a hundred links to one of the many negative (but accurate) posts which exist about you.

We are more patient than you, more powerful than you, better-financed and far brighter than you.

We will continue to watch your behaviour 24/7. We will never break the law but we assure you we will continue to affect your ability to live contentedly amongst us. We will not let your lies stand.

This Twitter account, which has so successfully held you to account for the past months, is one of many which from today will lie quiet but which can be used again in a heartbeat; meanwhile, we hope, providing an effective, powerful deterrent to your tendency for vile behaviour.

The civil courts are another weapon we can use against you and your associates if you do not start behaving yourselves. Your many victims are ready to face you down.

Note that this offer is meant for you AND those weak others who have been manipulated by you. As their ringleader we consider that, within reason, you are responsible for the people and areas they decide to blog and tweet about.

Please note that as a group we will change laws to ensure the kind of anti-social behaviour you and your friends have exhibited over the last decade will become illegal. Harassment laws WILL catch up with technology, they will become more retrospective and we’ll bust a gut to see the necessary changes through.

Now YOU must change.

You call yourself a “caped crusader” against injustice in Britain but you have failed to grasp the reality. You are a particularly ordinary man, Mr Ireland, and you have caused a great many Britons a very great deal of pain trying to prove to the world otherwise. Time to burst the shriveled balloon of your delusion, Mr Ireland.

So, wake up.

Now.

Look in the mirror.

& Change.

Or we will come at you and your associates one thousand times harder than you can possibly imagine. We also know the law back-to-front and we will never once breach it. We will take you on once again so you are left shaking & pathetic; begging for mercy yet again in one of your pitiful YouTube videos.

Life is give and take, Mr Ireland. Continue to abuse us Brits and you will be drowned out. Give back good behaviour to the land that you have taken so much from and maybe we Britons will start to appreciate you a bit more.

So now grow up, Mr Ireland.

Stop & think.

You are politely advised to take this last chance. We offer peace. Take it.

For the record, I deny lying about anyone, I have not harassed anyone, and I do not recall begging for anything on YouTube or anywhere else. I did totally wrap myself in the flag, though:

Further, I would dare to ask the rest of the British public what they make of this letter, which is why I have published the bulk of the it here for all to see.

I would be interested in any comments on-site or off, but I request that you refrain from guessing at the identity of the author and/or their associates. Please also be aware that the anonymous author has in their own special way repeatedly sought to goad me into making a public announcement regarding my position on the events at the Shefford hustings, but I have no intention of saying anything at this time other than to confirm that the matter is under police investigation.

Cheers all.

[MINI-UPDATE] – I will be at the count for the next few hours, so comment approval will likely be on the slow side until dawn.

UPDATE (1 June) – The police investigation into events at Shefford Hustings has concluded without action, but there will be further developments; despite the anonymous threats detailed in this post, an election petition has been filed.

UPDATE (10 June) – Independent – Nadine Dorries faces challenge after general election smear campaign allegations: Nadine Dorries is facing an extraordinary challenge to her parliamentary future after a rival candidate lodged an election petition claiming she had accused him of being a stalker and a “dangerous criminal”. The Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire could lose her seat if the smear allegations contained in the election petition, which has been lodged at the High Court by the unsuccessful independent candidate Tim Ireland, are accepted by judges.

UPDATE (30 July) – Independent – High Court rejects attempt to unseat Nadine Dorries after legal documents sent to wrong address: An attempt to unseat the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been thrown out by the High Court after two judges ruled that legal documents informing her of the action were sent to the wrong address. Lawyers acting for Ms Dorries, who was re-elected as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire at the general election, successfully argued at a hearing in London that the election petition sent to her constituency’s Conservative Association last month was invalid and should be struck out… Ms Dorries described the Conservative Association office in Shefford as a “small office staffed by volunteers” which was only open on Monday mornings, the court heard. She was in London when the legal documents arrived and consequently did not receive them until several days later, after they were forwarded by her personal assistant. Mr Ireland, who is now facing a significant bill for legal costs, said in a series of Tweets following the ruling: “The High Court did not reject the body of my allegations against Nadine Dorries. They nullified a petition raising them on a technicality. What Nadine Dorries did today was successfully prevent my allegations against her being heard and her allegations against me being tested.”

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Posted in UK General Election 2015 | 11 Comments

#votetim | New Campaign Video | Using Your Vote To Fight Corruption

I’ve made two versions of this video. The long version is embedded below, but there is also a short version for people who want the meat without the sandwich.

If you’re wondering about the missing detail about Nadine Dorries, what I can share with you immediately is this account of what happened at Shefford Hustings and further news that the events described in it are now the subject of a police investigation. Cheers all.

UPDATE (31 May) – The police investigation into events at the hustings has concluded without action, and I look forward to publishing further detail.








Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2015 | Comments Off