Is Gareth Davies a Labour stooge?

This entry was posted on
Thursday, February 17th, 2005
9:00 am and is filed
under UK General Election 2005.

Unless you suffer from severe short-term memory loss, you’re likely to remember this post from yesterday identifying a Bloggerheads visitor that appeared to be viewing the site from inside Labour HQ.

The person using this IP address visited again yesterday. They viewed one page using this IP address. At 21:43 GMT.

Someone’s working late.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me from about this point on, as I’m a tad confused.

Y’see, I was under the impression that IP addresses were rather unique things. But another Bloggerheads reader by the name of Will (cheers Will) noticed something rather odd…

Further Googling of the IP revealed a post to a messageboard from Dec 12 2004 using this IP address and when the profile of that poster told us it was a guy by the name of Ben Coffman from London whose job involved political research, I figured we had our man.

Hell, a press release dated 14 Dec 2004 on this page urges people seeking more information on the ID cards bill to contact “Ben Coffman in the Labour Party Policy Unit.”

So that’s Ben Coffman, core Labour policy guy, works at their head office. IP address:

Ben is one of many people from Labour HQ who use IPs in the range from –

Now I wish to pause for a moment to introduce you to a couple of Labour councillors.

Meet Bob Piper. He’s a Labour councillor. I mention him only by way of example. Just to show you that independent thought is still permitted within the Labour party (for now) and you shouldn’t expect slavish support for every one of Tony Blair’s policies from every Labour councillor you come across.

Now I’d like you to meet Gareth Davies. He is also a Labour councillor. He is less than happy with Backing Blair and says in this post that people like me should be regulated.

Why? Because, he says: “It’s about having open accountable elections. That means knowing who’s placing adverts and running campaigns, and who’s paying for them. All I ask is that if a site wants to campaign for a particular vote at an election, or against a political vote, it should have a declaration of who publishes it, on whose behalf, who pays the bills, and that it should be a criminal offence to make false statements about who the publisher is, and about the source of the money to pay the bills.”

Now we get to the important bit…

We cannot assume that Gareth Davies would take umbrage at Backing Blair just because he’s a Labour councillor.

We also need to note that he believes that people have the right to know where their information is coming from.

Got all that? OK, let’s get to the meat…

There’s a chap who posts many a message to the Black and Ambers forum. He goes by the name Exilegareth and you can see some of his posts by clicking here. Click on his profile and you’ll see that this is the very same Gareth we’ve come to know and love. The clincher is that link to in the profile.

Now, the Black and Amber forums are of a type that notes the IP address used for each post. Looking at Gareth’s entries, we see a variety of IP addresses. One reveals that he uses BT Broadband. Sometimes. Another reveals that he uses Telewest. Sometimes.

But if we look deeper we see – during the period of September and October 2004 – several posts by Gareth Davies using the IP address

IP address used by Labour HQ chap:
IP address used by Gareth Davies:

Now, I’m not much of an Interwebs mechanic, so do correct me if I’m wrong… but I can only think of five things that would explain this strange match of data:

1. The IP address has been reassigned between October and December – and by pure chance it was assigned to someone else with an interest in Bloggerheads.

2. The Labour Party provides internet access for their employees/members/councillors and IP addresses are somehow randomised and/or shared – and Gareth Davies and Ben Coffman have both used this facility for private purposes.

3. There is a hot-desk or semi-public computer (or group of same) at Labour HQ that has been used by both Gareth Davies and Ben Coffman – for private purposes.

4. This range of IP addresses is used not only by the head office in London, but also Labour’s regional offices. This still places Gareth Davies very close to the core campaign team as he has been inside that office. And appears to feel ‘at home’ enough to use these facilities for private purposes.

5. Gareth Davies was working at a desk inside Labour HQ sometime during Sep-Oct 2004. And he used the computer at that desk for private purposes.

If it’s options 3, 4 or 5, then I think I can be excused for telling Gareth that he might want to shut up about the voter’s right to know where their information is coming from.

So, would anybody care to venture an alternative scenario? Is there a technical aspect I’m missing here?

Gareth? Would you care to explain why your IP address appears to match one coming from the Labour campaign team?

UPDATE – It’s Option No. 4, folks! Gareth is a Labour councillor *and* he’s employed by the Labour Party in a regional party call-centre. How this colours his argument that his main concern regarding BB is for democracy rather than for the Labour Party, I’ll leave up to you.

About Tim Ireland

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