Is Gareth Davies a Labour stooge?

Posted by Tim Ireland at 17 February 2005

Category: UK General Election 2005

This entry was posted on
Thursday, February 17th, 2005
at
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 195.224.195.66 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: 195.224.195.66

Ben is one of many people from Labour HQ who use IPs in the range from 195.224.195.64 – 195.224.195.95

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 http://www.cramlingtonvillagecouncillor.blogspot.com/ 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 195.224.195.66

IP address used by Labour HQ chap: 195.224.195.66
IP address used by Gareth Davies: 195.224.195.66

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.








12 Comments

  1. Robin Grant says

    Tim – time to move on to something more important. He’s a Labour councillor – where’s the news?

  2. Manic says

    Labour councillor or not, he appears to be much closer to the campaign team than he lets on – which means he objects to Backing Blair not because it’s a threat to democracy but because it’s a threat to his campaign.And this allows us to move on. It allows us to move on knowing exactly what he’s up to. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that people from Blair’s team have played this game before:http://tinyurl.com/3uqx2

  3. cheeks says

    I’m registering some hits from ‘Houses of Parliament, London, United Kingdom’ on my site, too.

  4. Manic says

    That’s really not a big deal (but well done, anyway).This could be Boris or Tom checking in, or any one of a number of other MPs and/or their assistants. But hits from Labour HQ and Downing St are another matter entirely. Especially when the source of the hits from Labour HQ appears to be the same man suggesting that we’re wasting our time with backing Blair and we are not worthy of Labour HQ’s attention.

  5. matsimpsk says

    I’ve gone from being 100% angry at this stupid, misguided backingblair campaign, to just 95% angry and 5% concerned for your health.And, no, before you start looking for more evil conspiracies, I don’t mean that Blair currently has snipers trained on you.

  6. Dave Cross says

    Two technical aspects that it’s worth pointing out.1/ Large computer networks like the one at Labour Party HQ will usually only have one or two gateway machines that actually talk to the internet. It’s very common that IP addresses inside the network are allocated from a private range and all contact with the outside world appears to come from the IP address of the gateway machine. For example, this post will appear to come from 193.122.208.99 as will any person posting from the same organisation. Therefore the fact that two posts come from the same IP address only indicates that they are from machines on the same internal network – not the same physical PC.2/ When managing large networks with lots of dial-in access it’s wasteful of IP addresses to allocate a single IP address to each computer – as many of them will be unused at any given time. In these cases it’s common to dynamically allocate an IP address from a pool of available addresses each time a connection is made. It’s possible that the gxn.net network allows dial-in access and that you have just seen two different PCs in different parts of the country that got allocated the same dynamic IP address on different days.So, all in all, you have to be careful of drawing too many conclusions from an IP address.Let me know if you have any more questions.

  7. Manic says

    Thanks, davorg. I’d like to think I’ve provided something to ponder over rather than making any shrill accusations. Perhaps we’ll learn more if Gareth responds.And thank you, matsimpsk, for your concern for my (I presume mental) health… but it appears that you’re looking for a conspiracy *theory* that isn’t there.

  8. Guy Gooberman says

    Oh this is all very exciting!

  9. Councillor Bob says

    Me… Labour Councillor… independent thought… now you’ve dropped me in the shit!!

  10. Manic says

    Don’t panic, Bob. Gareth claims to have wrestled with independent thought himself. But he seems strangely unable to answer the question:”Do you support detention without trial based on intelligence gained through torture?”

  11. Talk Politics says

    Yours, Rattled of Cramlington Village…

    Tim Ireland's 'Backing Blair' site continues to rattle various cages within the Labour Party.This time it's Blyth Valley Labour Councillor, Gareth Davies, who's not happy with Tim and. as a result. is bandying around the usual tired old list of 'bo…

  12. Political Weblogs says

    Black Dog lacks clue

    I spotted this in the Mail on Sunday this weekend. The author of Black Dog appears to be the victim of ignorance or wishful thinking. Not that one expects to see accuracy in political gossip columns – or the Mail,…

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