Theresa May, the ‘nasty party’, and a path to kinder, gentler politics

“You know what some people call us: the nasty party.”
– Theresa May, speech to the Conservative Conference, 2002

For more than a decade I’ve been publishing warnings about the dark places social media will take us when politicians do not take threatening behaviour seriously, deliberately turn a blind eye to it from their own supporters when it suits them, and/or even engage in it themselves. On that last point, I’m aware of several incidents where a serving MP has sought to answer, damage or even intimidate critics through use of anonymous comments/accounts. In doing so, they seek to avoid accountability and undermine a key component of our democracy.

This is something we should be taking very seriously. It has also grown much worse in recent years because (a) the village has been getting bigger and there are more idiots to go around, (b) social media gives these idiots opportunities that did not exist 10 years ago without at least the tacit approval of a publisher with an audience but without a conscience, and (c) people watch and take note when others get away with it, resulting in everything from immediate mob formation to later mimicry.

Worse, the problem peaks during emotional highs such as elections, referendums and leadership campaigns, which is when we need our democracy the most.

Currently, Jeremy Corbyn is being called upon to answer for the poor behaviour of just about everybody who ever leaned to the left. Similarly, Theresa May’s supporters recently felt the need to call upon fellow Conservatives to sign a “clean campaign pledge” during the Tory leadership contest, but May’s own Chief Whip continues to protect one of her former executive fundraisers (a man who continues to target me and others), purely because she fears the political cost of admitting to a mistake involving a very dirty campaign where an innocent man was branded as a paedophile.

This is only one example of that party’s neglect over decades of abuse and harassment from its members. I say this not to engage in political whataboutery but to highlight the fact that this is not a party or political problem, but a widespread, long-standing and worsening problem that will only get better when people in authority finally grasp the nettle and take responsibility rather than see bullying as something to be played down when it happens in your own ranks, and capitalised on when it appears to originate from the opposition.

This bias/opportunism and the bullying itself are very human responses. We’re not divine beings; we’re selfish animals with social concerns. We are wired to behave this way when we think we can get away with it. Therefore, the only credible and effective response is a measure that not only acknowledges the bullying from all sides, but addresses the human element including the problem of inherent bias.

If I may beg your patience for a few moments, I’d like to focus on this single example from direct experience just long enough to give you a sense of perspective and purpose…. then I would like to get on with the important business of proposing what I think is a workable solution. (It’s in bold below if you have a short attention span and no care for detail.)

You may find the following hard going if you are a Conservative, but I will try to remain objective if you can promise to do the same, and (as usual) I will stick to what I can demonstrate with evidence if Anne Milton or David Cameron anyone else wishes to challenge it:

In 2006, two fundraising executives in Guildford were working under campaign head Jonathan Lord (now MP for Woking) for the recently-elected MP for Guildford: Anne Milton.

These two fundraising executives, Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul, also put themselves forward as Conservative candidates in a local council election. They both deny authorship of an anonymous website that accused their opponent and a critic of Anne Milton of paedophilia, but it can be demonstrated that an email address administered by Mike Chambers was used in an attempt to anonymously publicise the site, and that Dennis Paul linked to it from his own site early in the campaign and referenced the allegations on the eve of the relevant election. For now, let’s afford them the benefit of the doubt to the extent that we allow for the potential involvement of an unidentified third party who created an anonymous website making false allegations of child rape in order to damage a candidate in an election (which is a crime, by the way). At one stage, the anonymous site author revealed some shocking prejudice that most reasonable people would describe as a hate incident if not a hate crime: the candidate outed themselves as gay, and the site author quite clearly asserted this as confirmation that they were a paedophile as alleged.

At the time of my original complaint about this behaviour, Cameron’s office responded by saying that he was ‘confident that the issue was being investigated a local level’, but on that same day he formally endorsed both Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul as Conservative candidates and had his picture taken with them as part of that process.

Chambers and Paul were not suspended pending an investigation because there was no investigation. Later, Cameron had no response to Jonathan Lord’s own admission that he had decided against an investigation purely because an election was in progress and he didn’t want the candidates or the party to be damaged by what he described as a threat that the facts would somehow be ‘distorted’ and used against them unfairly (more/detail).

Police were involved at the time, but declined to investigate some key authorship issues based on the false assertion by an unnamed Tory party member that a key witness did not exist and had been invented as part of a plot to fabricate evidence against Mike Chambers. Dennis Paul also made quite specific allegations about my hacking his computer and illicitly making changes to his website(s). This apparent conspiracy to pervert the course of justice alone is a matter that warrants investigation.

At the tail end of my article I have included a further letter that I sent to David Cameron in 2015. The blasé response to this letter – that I should refer my concerns to police – completely ignored the statute of limitations on relevant offences and implied that the Conservatives would tolerate any behaviour from their members and candidates that was technically legal… but my main issue was the leaking of this private and sensitive correspondence.

I have found this to be a common problem with a series of Chairpersons during David Cameron’s time as Conservative Leader. It is part of a Gentleman’s Club mindset where formal investigation is rejected in favour of a quiet word off the record. Too often the full body of the complaint is shared illicitly as part of this process, putting the alleged victim at the mercy of their alleged bully. I am aware of multiple victims of this pattern of behaviour within the Conservative Party, and you will no doubt be aware of Elliott Johnson, who took his own life in the wake of similar behaviour, but even now the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge or investigate this widespread and long-standing issue.

Immediately after my initial complaint in 2006 I was the target of relentless attacks on anonymous websites and through the use of anonymous comments on the then up-and-coming websites of a range of Conservatives, some of whom sought to take advantage of the situation. It wasn’t until 2009 that I discovered that a further fundraising executive working for Anne Milton was also involved to the extent of smearing me as a paedophile. And an extremist. And a cyber terrorist. And a stalker.

In 2012 I complained to the President/Chairman of the relevant fundraising committee. Within 24 hours of that email being read, I was again anonymously smeared as a paedophile.

That now-former* fundraising executive’s name is Dominic Wightman, and his behaviour has grown well out of control over years of bullying because nobody in the party took the matter seriously. In fact, the behaviour has continued unabated for close to if not more than a decade by now. There has been no admission of fault or error by Anne Milton, Jonathan Lord or David Cameron, and it is in this climate of neglect that behaviour like this escalates. In fact, Wightman is so confident that he can say what he likes and do what he pleases that he goes around telling people all sorts of rubbish. The following is an extract from a recent email from Glen Jenvey, a man that Dominic Wightman (aka ‘Dominic Whiteman’) has repeatedly convinced to publish false allegations on his behalf:

“To be quite truthful whiteman is linked directly to Cameron that’s why the police never act against him.” – Glen Jenvey

Obviously this is bullshit, but in the absence of any real threat of contradiction or accountability, it is very effective bullshit. Wightman fed Jenvey and other people similar fictions about links to Lord Ashcroft, and it took that peer nearly four years to merely contradict Wightman’s claims about knowing him.

The absence of any real threat of contradiction or accountability also led to escalation of other aberrant behaviour, up to and including Wightman’s years-old obsession with ‘downing’ me on behalf of Milton and other members of the party. I have spoken to witnesses who describe Wightman not merely voicing the allegation of paedophilia as a passing comment, but relating long and detailed fantasies about my imagined crimes. Take a moment to consider this. It is not something said in the heat of the moment; it is cold and calculated behaviour that involves the creation of complex, perverse fictions. It is far from healthy, and we are at this insane stage mainly if not only because a range of Conservatives repeatedly put party-political concerns ahead of principle.

It is on this note that I arrive at my proposed solution, and I challenge Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and any other party leaders to respond to it:

1. A wholly independent investigation into the handling of bullying complaints by all parties going back at least 10 years. A public consultation with victims of alleged bullying/harassment should be central to this process, as there will be cases where no internal record of their complaint exists/survives.

2. A report detailing what measures might be taken to improve current protocols for all parties and how they are followed.

3. A specific option that should be considered is the creation of an independent body to cover all parties and handle all initial complaints of harassment, bullying, abuse and similar behaviour. Obviously their powers, protocols and funding are issues to be informed by the initial independent investigation and debated in Parliament, but in my view, the body should at the very least have an investigative arm and the capacity to make fast and credible recommendations about what actions relevant parties or authorities should take in response to any given complaint.

What I am working towards is something that allows aberrant behaviour to be initially assessed/addressed by people who do not feel an overwhelming need to protect any particular person or party from political damage. I cannot take credit for the core idea, as it was something proposed by Ray Johnson following his son’s death.

I close in reference to my 2015 letter to David Cameron that was leaked to some of the parties involved while my concerns were ignored (below).

In the subsequent election, I was not only targeted by a series of anonymous Twitter and WordPress accounts making false allegations of criminal behaviour, but the neglect at a party level was so bad that one MP (Nadine Dorries) saw fit to endorse and publicise these anonymous accounts, and another MP (Grant Shapps) saw fit to repeat some of these allegations in his official capacity as co-Chairman of the party. In other words, the man who handled my complaint to the party’s leader went on to engage in the same bullying campaign I was complaining about and involve the party directly in the process.

(Psst! If you wish to take a good guess at his motive, take a look at this site I published shortly before his outburst.)

Throughout this affair, people have been targeted with fabricated evidence causing them needless concerns for their safety. One of these people is Nadine Dorries, and I take this behaviour against her as seriously as anything else, but it is too late for police to act on it, and I fear that only belated intervention by her party is likely to alleviate the ongoing problem for her, myself and others.

This is a rare, near-to-perfect** and long-overdue opportunity for Theresa May to detoxify her party and politics generally. If she doesn’t take it, and if she sees fit to pretend there is no issue to address, then she cannot say or do anything about the current level of bullying in politics with any credibility. Further, she will have to admit that the Conservatives’ reputation as the ‘nasty party’ is well earned due to widespread behaviour at every level that she has personally refused to address.

(*One hopes.)

(**Cameron has exited humming a carefree little tune, but Jonathan Lord must answer for his failure to investigate two candidates/fundraisers and Anne Milton must answer for her failure to address serious concerns about another of her fundraising executives.)

16 February 2015

Dear Prime Minister,

Please excuse the impertinence of my writing directly to someone as important as your good self. In my defence, the last time I wrote to a standing Prime Minister, it was to warn Gordon Brown about some chap named Derek Draper, and I do not think my concerns were misplaced.

Back in 2006, I wrote to you as leader of the Conservative Party with concerns about two executives on a fundraising committee and campaign team for the Conservative Member for Guildford Anne Milton. I presented initial evidence and offered further supporting evidence to support my allegation that they had involved themselves in an months-long campaign to smear a critic of that MP as a paedophile and child rapist. While both parties sought to use false identities to avoid accountability for their behaviour, one party knowingly published and retained links to the offending site on their personal/political blog, and another sought to publicise the same site on a local student forum after originally signing up for that site using an email address containing a domain registered in their name, and at their home address. These individuals then involved themselves in a series of false allegations against me when I dared to confront them about their conduct.

At the time, I presented you with the evidence linking them to this behaviour and offered further supporting evidence. You declined to act yourself and instead referred the matter back to Jonathan Lord, who was then Anne Milton’s campaign manager (he later became Conservative MP for Woking). You were so satisfied by his response that two days later you posed for photos with these two individuals and personally endorsed their candidacy for local council.

However, Jonathan Lord’s only answer to the allegations in 2006 was (a) that the victim of the smears had not complained to him about it, and (b) that I had not put my own complaint in writing (i.e. I had ‘only’ emailed him about it). Lord reiterated this response in 2009.

In 2011, I recorded Jonathan Lord admitting that no formal investigation took place because the parties involved had already been selected as candidates for a campaign in progress. His exact words:

“I said (to the parties involved): ‘It’s lucky you guys have already been selected, otherwise, you know, we’re in the middle of a campaign now’…”

“This is all off the record, OK? In the middle of an election, you know, you don’t obviously want to give succour to your opponents…”

“If we hadn’t already been in the middle of an election campaign… then it might have been a slightly different story.”

Crucially, whatever Lord said to these individuals back in 2006 was said informally and privately, and there was no public-facing acknowledgement that anything untoward had happened. The entirely predictable result was that a further fundraising executive for Anne Milton repeated the exact same stunt (in 2009), this time with me as the target. I have since secured emails where the individual concerned sought to justify their actions to a then-associate by saying quite specifically that Milton and her supporters wanted me ‘downed’.

I originally suspected the person involved in this second event was a donor and confronted Milton about their behaviour with questions about their donor status; she denied that they were a donor and refused to take any further action… while knowing that they were an executive member on one of her fundraising committees.

Once again, I contacted you and key members of your party for action, but once again everyone in a position of authority was diving for cover with cheap excuses. Anne Milton claimed she couldn’t act or even comment because the person involved was a constituent. Jeremy Hunt claimed he couldn’t act or even comment because the person involved *wasn’t* a constituent. Jonathan Lord was still of the view that none of it was anyone’s concern because as far as he was aware, technically, no crime had been committed.

It is at this stage that I will remind you that what Derek Draper and Damien McBride planned wasn’t ‘technically’ illegal… it was ‘merely’ morally reprehensible. Nevertheless, your entire party was up in arms about their plot and demanding accountability. At the same time, I was actively and relentlessly being smeared as a dangerous criminal while you and your members sought to avoid responsibility.

The relevant behaviour continues to this day, almost 10 years after the original event. Further, we have a rather important general election on the way, emotions are bound to run high, and my concerns extend beyond my own experiences.

I have watched this cancer grow within your party, I am concerned about the conduct of your candidates, their campaigners and their fundraisers, and today I ask only three things of you, all desired to send a clear message to your members about such behaviour:

1) A formal acknowledgement from Anne Milton, Jonathan Lord and Jeremy Hunt that they did not deal with this behaviour as stringently or as thoroughly as they should have during either event. (I’d be grateful for any apologies that might accompany this, but appreciate that your influence is limited in this respect.)

2) A formal acknowledgement from you and your party Chairman that there have been some regrettable failures in leadership and oversight throughout this matter.

3) Your personal assurance that any further evidence of such behaviour will be investigated and dealt with quickly, firmly, and in good faith.

I’m sure that even with our vastly differing opinions about social justice, we can agree that using false allegations of criminal behaviour as a political weapon is entirely unacceptable.

I am equally certain that we can agree that false allegations of child rape are especially unhelpful given the recent allegations of paedophile rings inside Westminster.

I look forward to a prompt and considered response to my concerns. Should you require further evidence to support any of the above, I am at your disposal.

Regards,

Tim Ireland

UPDATE (27 July) _ Some added detail and context from Richard Bartholomew: Online Harassment by Conservative Party Activists: A Decade of Mishandled Complaints








Posted in Anne Milton, Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2015 | Comments Off

The Conspiracy Song: lyrics and background

Today, I release the sixth and final 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).

Today’s lesson: Not everything you read on the internets is true. Don’t expect everyone to be reasonable about this.

The Conspiracy Song

I have made the artistic decision to refrain from any comment on the alleged merit of any of the conspiracy theories referenced in this song. Similarly, I have no comment to make on the alleged significance of any images used in this or any other music video. I make this statement of my own free will, and under no duress.

THE CONSPIRACY SONG
Lyrics by Tim Ireland


The Pope is a lizard
And so is/was the Queen
Who murdered Diana
And got away clean

Obama’s a Kenyan
And Reagan caused AIDS
George Bush had abortions
(or so people say)

They knocked Norma Jean off
They killed JFK
Who got shot and poisoned
By the CIA

They faked the moon landings
But Roswell was real
There’s drugs in the water
And worms in our meals

They can’t hide the chemtrails
We can’t trust vaccines
We all know that jet fuel
Can’t melt through steel beams

And the New World Order
Will brainwash your kids
And use MKUltra
To hide what they d…

[Singer(s) to suffer a sudden and shadowy but ultimately unexplained death/disappearance by an unknown hand. Examples include: sudden and lethal mushroom poisoning event, forced abduction by hooded men, a laser from the woods appearing on a chest moments before a shot rings out.]
-








Posted in Campfire Songs | Comments Off

The Password Song: lyrics and background

Today, I release the fifth 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).

Today’s lesson: Keep your password safe, and logout when you’re done.

The Password Song

Actually, I should say passwords, plural, as in more than one; a recent poll suggested that 55% of adults use the same password for most if not all websites (source). This means that if someone discovers your password for Facebook, then they also have potential access to your banking details… but I figured that young’uns especially would care more about damage to their social life than their bank balance, thus the focus on the leaking of nude selfies in the saga of Peter and his passwords.

Oh, and in case it’s not obvious, I will mention here that part of keeping your passwords safe is making sure that they are not easy to guess. On that note I will mention that the 5 most popular passwords of 2014 were:

1. 123456
2. password
3. 12345
4. 12345678
5. qwerty

You can see the full list here, and an earlier list from the same source here. The first thing you will notice: the only improvement in near to 5 years is that ‘password’ no longer tops the list, and is currently in second place.

It also bears mentioning that if you are ever going to be away from your computer or device, lock the damn screen, in the same way that you’d lock your car or your front door.

THE PASSWORD SONG
Lyrics by Tim Ireland


Peter went on Facebook and he chatted with his Mum
He didn’t lock his screen or
logout of accounts when done
Peter went on Facebook
and he chatted with his Mum
But he ain’t gonna chat no more

CHORUS
Keeeeep your password safe, and logout when you’re done
Or your so-called friends will get online, and have a little fun
Keeeeep your password safe, and logout when you’re done
Or you ain’t gonna chat no more

His friends accessed his Facebook page and posted all his nudes
They were racy they were sexy and let’s face it they were rude
His friends accessed his Facebook page and posted all his nudes
And he ain’t gonna chat no more

[CHORUS]

They got into his Twitter feed and messaged with his ex
Then chatted with her followers and pleaded for some sex
They got into his Twitter feed and messaged with his ex
And he ain’t gonna chat no more

[CHORUS]

They clicked through to his Myspace page but no-one else was there
They posted all his nudes again but no-one really cared
They clicked through to his Myspace page but no-one else was there
But he ain’t gonna chat no more

[CHORUS]

A short vid of him shagging went to YouTube and to Vine
It ended up on porn sites where they thought it was divine
A short vid of him [bleep]ing went to YouTube and to Vine
And he ain’t gonna chat no more

[CHORUS]

The images on imgur went viral naturally
They tumbled out on tumblr just as easy as can be
There were front page links on reddit for the redditors to see
And he ain’t gonna chat no more

[CHORUS]

The story soon went global, it was clickbait news for sure
The people came to point and laugh and search his name for more
The story soon went global, it was clickbait news for sure
And he ain’t gonna chat no more

[CHORUS]

It all could be avoided if he’d only taken care
But now the world had seen him in his dirty underwear
It all could be avoided if he’d only taken care
And he ain’t gonna chat no more
-








Posted in Campfire Songs | Comments Off

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.

The 404 Song

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 by Tim Ireland


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 | Comments Off

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.

The Virus Song

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 by Tim Ireland


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 | 1 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

THE TROLL SONG
Lyrics by Tim Ireland

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

THE MONEY SONG
Lyrics by Tim Ireland

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 | 3 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