The 404 Song: lyrics and background

Here’s the fourth music video from The Cautionary Campfire Songbook (Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)), and the associated album produced in conjunction with Koit: Cautionary Campfire Songs (Amazon | Google Play | iTunes). This one teaches the listener/viewer the steps one should take if they encounter a 404 error, and want to find a copy of the missing page or item.

How did this song come about? Well, I was bouncing some new song ideas around in my head, found myself wondering what could possibly redeem the widely-despised ‘Kumbaya’, quickly arrived at the answer of ‘nothing’… and here we are.

The video goes into detail about the measures you should take if you go to download a web page or similar file and discover that it is missing, but the song alone should be enough to get most people started, even if they’re reduced to asking Google what a ‘Wayback’ is.

My favourite thing about this song is its calming lamentational quality: it prepares you emotionally for your feelings of loss while offering a glimmer of hope about what might yet be found by following a series of logical investigative steps.

THE 404 SONG
Lyrics


Page is missing, Lord
404
Page is missing, Lord
404
Page is missing, Lord
404
Oh Lord, 404

Use the site-search, Lord
404
Use the site-search, Lord
404
Use the site-search, Lord
404
Oh Lord, 404

Check the Google cache
404
Check the Google cache
404
Check the Google cache
404
Oh Lord, 404

Check on Wayback, Lord
404
Check on Wayback, Lord
404
Check on Wayback, Lord
404
Oh Lord, 404

Was it mirrored, Lord?
404
Was it mirrored, Lord?
404
Was it mirrored, Lord?
404
Oh Lord, 404

Did someone save it, Lord?
404
Did someone save it, Lord?
404
Did someone save it, Lord?
404
Oh Lord, 404

Gone forever, Lord
404
Gone forever, Lord
404
Gone forever, Lord
404
Oh Lord, 404
-








Posted in Campfire Songs | Leave a comment

The Virus Song: lyrics and background

Today I launch the third music video from The Cautionary Campfire Songbook (Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)), and the associated album produced in conjunction with Koit: Cautionary Campfire Songs (Amazon | Google Play | iTunes). This is the first of the longer songs to be released, and it is about the widely under-appreciated risk of computer viruses and similar malware.

Instead if simply displaying the lyrics, this video presents a series of data-rich slides showing the scale of previous virus events and the nature of present malware threats, which are more dangerous and criminal in nature than ever before.

Why? Well, malware technology is no longer solely in the hands of computer geeks; there are now a variety of products for sale that allow criminals to create their own malicious programs and delivery packages.

The latest generation of threats includes ‘ransomware’, which encrypts your beloved data with a special key that is specific to you. If you do not pay the blackmail fee to the relevant criminals in time, they will delete that key and you will never be able to access your data again. Yes, this applies even if the police have the wit, authority and will to identify and arrest your blackmailer.

That means that everything you saved between now and your last back-up will be gone forever. That is why the only truly effective defence these days is regular back-ups on an isolated hard drive, and I’m betting that before too long someone will come up with an effective time-delay package that deliberately targets such back-ups.

Have a nice day.

THE VIRUS SONG
Lyrics


She will bypass anti-virus when she comes
She will bypass anti-virus when she comes
She will bypass anti-virus and that’s how she’ll get inside us
She will bypass anti-virus when she comes

She will sneak under your radar when she comes
She will sneak under your radar when she comes
She will sneak under your radar like secretive invader
She will sneak under your radar when she comes

She will key-log all your passwords while she’s there
She will key-log all your passwords while she’s there
She will key-log all your passwords and then pass on what that log heard
She will key-log all your passwords while she’s there

She will forward banking details while she’s there
She will forward banking details while she’s there
She will forward banking details to some crooks inside some emails
She will forward banking details while she’s there

She will corrupt all your data when she’s done
She will corrupt all your data when she’s done
She will corrupt all your data so you can’t retrieve it later
She will corrupt all your data when she’s done

She’ll attack the unprotected when she’s done
She’ll attack the unprotected when she’s done
She will attack the unprotected so your friends all get infected
She’ll attack the unprotected when she’s done

You’d be lost without a back-up, do it now
You’d be lost without a back-up, do it now
You’d be lost with a back-up, you’d be bummed out and you’d crack up
You’d be lost without a back-up, do it now








Posted in Campfire Songs | Leave a comment

The Troll Song: lyrics and background

As promised, here is the music video for the second short song from The Cautionary Campfire Songbook (Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)), and the associated album produced in conjunction with Koit: Cautionary Campfire Songs (Amazon | Google Play | iTunes). The songs get a bit longer after this one, and from here on in you can expect to see a new music video each week for a total of 4 weeks.

This one is designed not only as a valuable lesson, but as a cautionary/preventative tool to be used in a multitude of digital social situations. Next time you see a troll on the loose and gaining traction, feel free to use this link as an important reminder about the most prudent course of action.

Full lyrics appear below the embedded video. Have fun with it.

THE TROLL SONG
Lyrics

Ohhhhhh…
Nobody likes them
Everybody hates them
Please ignore the trolls
You might think
To kick up a stink
But attention is their goal
They lack the normal social skills
And seek to waste your time
Ignoring them takes zero time
And stops you wasting mine.
Cheers!

NOTE – Let’s be clear here: by ‘trolls’ I mean people who say provocative, upsetting or even hurtful things purely to get a rise out of you and/or to disrupt conversations and communities. This advice about trolls covers a range of anti-social behaviour from childish mischief to downright malice. Obviously, so-called trolls who go further than the law allows should not be totally ignored, but reported to police, quietly and without fuss… but for the avoidance of doubt, “quietly and without fuss” means that you should not then go online and brag that you’ve reported a troll to police. There are certain trolls who get a proper kick out of that, because they know how hopeless and/or helpless most police are when dealing with this kind of anti-social behaviour. If you make this mistake, it’s possible that the only outcome will be letting the little scrote know that they’ve gotten a rise out of you.








Posted in Campfire Songs | 1 Comment

The Money Song: lyrics and background

As many regulars will already know, I’ve been volunteering with young people for quite some time now. I mainly teach civic responsibility and how to make fire (preferably in that order), but at times I actually teach these and other important lessons around a fire, and I often use music to do it.

Today I am launching the first in a series of six music videos to promote The Cautionary Campfire Songbook (Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)), and the associated album produced in conjunction with Koit: Cautionary Campfire Songs (Amazon | Google Play | iTunes)

First cab off the rank is a short but important lesson about money and assorted conmen. Full lyrics appear below the embedded video. An equally short music video will appear very shortly, and after that you can expect to see a new music video every week for 4 weeks. Cheers all.

THE MONEY SONG
Lyrics

Oh, don’t send your cash to strangers on the internet,
Princes that you haven’t met,
Sods who say they’ll clear your debt.
Don’t take free bets playing internet roulette,
Or you might lose it all (and more!)

-








Posted in Campfire Songs | 2 Comments

On @MatthewDoyle31 and feelings of prejudice in the wake of extreme acts

“‎The greatest danger of a terrorist’s bomb is in the explosion of stupidity that it provokes.” – Octave Mirbeau

Prejudice: an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group. [source]

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 01

Matthew P Doyle tweeted the above comment in the wake of the recent bombings in Brussels. There was an immediate outbreak of mockery and criticism that all users of Twitter will be familiar with.

In the face of this, the tweet was deleted, and Matthew P Doyle proceeded to pass the comment off as a “wind up”, heavily implying through various tweets and retweets that he was satirising prejudice, not displaying/furthering it. Here is one such example:

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 02

But despite backing off from his generalisation, Mr Doyle’s earlier comments clearly display the feelings of prejudice he is struggling with:

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 03

Here is an excellent example. It would be more accurate to say that there is an extremism threat in this country. That would prevent any potential confusion between Mr Doyle’s feelings of concern and attempts by certain other parties to portray all Muslims as a threat to our safety and way of life:

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 04

I would humbly suggest that it would be more constructive for us to back off with the pitchforks and allow Mr Doyle some room to accept and acknowledge that he struggled with prejudice in the wake of an extreme act. It is a response that extremists count on to further their aims, and if we are to counter their efforts with kindness and humanity, we could do worse than start with Mr Doyle.

(Over to you, Matthew. The most constructive thing you can do is recognise the problem, rather than deny it. I know the latter seems like the easier option in the face of the attention your are receiving, but it is precisely because of the attention you are receiving that you are so well-placed to set a better example. Good luck!)

UPDATE – *sigh*. This might be an uphill battle. Matthew tweeted the following while I was finalising and publishing this article:

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 05

UPDATE – Yep. Definitely uphill.

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 06

I dare to hope that some or all of this is not heavily ingrained, but mainly in response to the support Mr Doyle is being shown by those certain parties I mentioned, who are more than happy to reinforce his prejudice. I further dare to hope that even this can in time be reversed with genuine, selfless kindness… but probably not while Mr Doyle continues to revel in the attention while hedging his bets and passing it all off as a humorous PR exercise.

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 07

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 08

If Mr Doyle is sincere in his faith, he will be wary of following crowds in pursuit of an injustice.

UPDATE (24 March) – *sigh*… Mr Doyle had a very busy day yesterday, and his attention-seeking behaviour included tweeting links to a Daily Mail article about him to various news outlets, and people like Donald Trump and Barack Obama:

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 09

After this, his behaviour became increasingly eccentric, including claims that he would be doing the newspaper review on SKY that night and referring media enquiries to his favourite news reporter, Kimberley Leonard.

And then this happened…

Independent – Croydon man arrested after confronting Muslim woman and telling her to ‘explain Brussels’: A man from Croydon has been arrested after comments about confronting a Muslim woman in the street to explain the Brussels attacks were posted on Twitter… A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “We have arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of inciting racial hatred on social media.”

Judging by that statement, it was probably not a real or imagined confrontation in the street that got Mr Doyle into trouble, but more likely the bravado that he showed in the face of criticism, and even some messages preceding his ‘confrontation’ claim. Taking a look back at earlier tweets, in the immediate wake of the Brussels event, he was tweeting all-caps messages like “WE ARE A CHRISTIAN CONTINENT” and “NO MORE MUSLIM MIGRATION” and blaming atrocities in whole or in part on Syrian refugees:

MatthewDoyle31 screen capture 10

So, to reiterate my initial comment on today’s update… *sigh*.

-








Posted in Humanity | Comments Off

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 | 4 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.

-








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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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.








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