This entry was posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2007 at 12:52 pm and is filed under The Political Weblog Movement.


Times – Rising Labour star accused of telling voters: my opponent is a paedophile
Daily Mail – Labour activist accused of branding political rival ‘a paedophile’ to win council seat
East London and West Essex Guardian – Councillor sex slur trial begins
East London and West Essex Guardian – Sex slur allegations were made in revenge, claims (Labour) councillor

BBC – Councillor accused of gay slurs: A Labour politician beat a gay Liberal Democrat opponent in a London local election by making homophobic comments about him to voters, a court has heard. Nicholas Russell told Waltham Forest magistrates his running mate, Miranda Grell, had a “disgusting attitude”. He said Ms Grell told voters her rival Barry Smith claimed to be married yet had a 14-year-old Thai boyfriend. Ms Grell, 29, denies four counts of making false statements about another candidate to gain electoral advantage. Mr Smith, 56, who has a long-term 39-year-old Malaysian partner, had served on Waltham Forest Council in east London for three years and was defending a 600-vote majority in last year’s elections. The court heard Mr Smith was devastated by the way he had lost his seat to Ms Grell by 28 votes. He later moved to northern England. In the final weeks of canvassing, people slammed doors in his face and, after his defeat, he was abused, threatened and spat at, the court heard…. (Miranda Grell) admitted telling one voter Mr Smith was gay and had a “19-year-old Thai boyfriend”, and believed in hindsight this was indiscreet…

Indiscreet?! Not the word I’d use.

Barry Smith is particularly vulnerable to this kind of slur for three reasons:

1) He is gay.

There are a disturbing number of people who are prone to (or happy to exploit) the suggestion that being homosexual automatically makes one a paedophile.

2) His partner is notably younger than he is.

OK, so that partner is 39 years old, but the ‘smoke and fire’ principle can easily be utilised when shenanigans are afoot.

3) His partner is Malaysian.

Malaysia is a separate entity to Thailand (they even have a border to prove it), but in their shared region there is a known problem with human trafficking and ‘sex tourism’; genuine paedophiles often exploit this. Again, ‘smoke and fire’ can be deployed with ease.

Before we proceed, I’d ask you to keep that first (and primary) vulnerability in mind…

As is widely reported, Iain Dale was the first openly gay Conservative to be selected as a Parliamentary candidate. Therefore this story should, in theory, at the very least be of interest to him not because of the slight blogging connection, but because this is not the first case involving gay candidates and paedo-related smears and it certainly won’t be the last.

Now, Iain is away on holiday at the moment, and Shane Greer is filling in for him, but take a look at what Shane wrote when he blogged the Times article linked above:

Iain Dale’s Diary – Top Labour Blogger in Trouble

Top Labour Blogger Miranda Grell – who, Iain tells me is number 37 in the upcoming Top 100 Labour blogs – is in a spot of bother with M’Learned Friend. THIS Times article explains all.

That, to me, reads as if the item were run by Iain Dale prior to publication… and I suspect that the only reason it was featured (apart from maybe an excuse to plug his book again) is because, no matter how this ongoing trial turns out, no Tories will be implicated in any wrongdoing.

A lot of people still wonder why I ‘have it in’ for Dale, so allow me to explain the actual situation to you:

My concern about Dale is ongoing and will remain a high priority for as long as he poses as a ‘commentator’, a blogging expert and/or a leading light of political blogging, because he is extraordinarily partisan and selfish about the way he prioritises and moderates what he and others say on his ‘weblog’.

This alone breeds poison, but many new bloggers (not all of them Tories) go on to follow his very, very poor example. In fact, just to let Iain know that I mean business, I’m going to use the ‘f’ word again:

I think Iain Dale is a fraud, and a bloody dangerous one.

To be specific; I’m of the view that the very poor example he sets threatens to undermine everything valuable about political blogging.

I first began to suspect that Dale had little or no regard for the wider blogging community when I got in touch with him about a case not entirely dissimilar to the one currently working its way through court. (Iain Dale knows this, which is why his often-repeated “Don’t drag me into your blog-wars” gambit still amuses me… especially as he’s the blogging equivalent of an unscrupulous arms dealer.)

Iain didn’t blog the item.

I suspect this was because that particular smear campaign was the work of Conservative activists and I would hope that, after the free ride he gave Grant Shapps following a spectacular sock-puppeting foul-up, that most reasonable bloggers would agree with me.

I can’t stop Dale’s sock-puppeting supporters from screaming the words ‘jealous’ and/or ‘grudge’, but I can try to set the record straight with the following emails, many of which are published here in full for the first time…

In this exchange (also involving that other ‘leading light’ of blogging, Paul Staines) Iain gives some piss-poor excuses for not blogging the item in question:

From: Tim Ireland
Sent: 22 August 2006 13:43
To: iain@iaindale.com; Guy Fawkes
Subject: Guildford Conservatives in ‘paedo’ smear

Please pay particular attention to the closing comment:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2006/08/proof_mike_chambers.asp

Tim

-

From: Iain Dale
To: ‘Tim Ireland’
Cc: ‘Guy Fawkes’
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 3:34 PM
Subject: RE: Guildford Conservatives in ‘paedo’ smear

Think I’ll keep concentrating on Prescott if you don’t mind…!

Iain

-

From: Tim Ireland
Sent: 22 August 2006 15:37
To: Iain Dale
Cc: ‘Guy Fawkes’
Subject: Re: Guildford Conservatives in ‘paedo’ smear

*sigh*

You both know that if this were a Lib Dem or Labour campaigner, you would be all over it.

Tim

-

From: Iain Dale
To: ‘Tim Ireland’
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 3:45 PM
Subject: RE: Guildford Conservatives in ‘paedo’ smear

Yes, but we like to leave some room for you too! Anyway, the first I had ever heard of it was when you emailed it to me…

Iain Dale

I particularly like that patronising pat on the head at the end, don’t you? It’s only late 2006, and he’s already full of himself.

This is a later email (also blogged here) that I sent to Iain in the middle of the so-called ‘blog wars’ in a rather futile attempt to appeal to his human side. It was sent at a rather ungodly hour, but I’ll hope you’ll note that it’s coherent… and completely in keeping with all I’ve said here and elsewhere on this subject:

From: Tim Ireland
To: Iain Dale
Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 1:47 AM
Subject: For the human being that lurks somewhere inside of you

While you’re busy playing the victim (i.e. while you’re ‘in the zone’), just imagine for a second what it would be like to be a gay candidate and have this gang of fuck-heads messing with you:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2006/08/guildford_tories.asp

They’re one of your lot, too…. approved by Head Office:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2007/01/indulgences.asp

Take a look at how close their techniques are to Paul’s…
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2007/01/briefing_astro-turfers.asp

and yours*:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/guido_fawkes/2007/02/manics-tips-for-becoming-successful_02.html

*This still applies even if you don’t write the defences/trolls yourself. You hide behind them and/or use them as weapons on a regular basis. And if you don’t reign the bullies in, they’re your bullies. You own them. Here’s a small example for you to follow (best I could find at short notice)… see comments:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2007/01/onmarks.asp

The longer you keep this shit up and ponce about as a very poor example, the more damage you do and the more common this kind of thing becomes.

Now, perhaps, you will understand why you have finally managed to make me angry… especially when you insist that you are the victim of a smear/attack.

You, Iain, are the potential father of countless smears and attacks.

Wake the fuck up.

Tim

He replied to other emails at that time, but not this one… and he carried on playing the victim.

Since then, from Iain we’ve seen not only the free ride for Shapps but also some suspiciously scant attention paid to the online impersonation of Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb.

Iain Dale has no business posing as any kind of senior authority on weblogs, as he fails to understand the serious long term consequences of these shenanigans, and/or is willing to turn a blind eye when people from his team engage in them.

In my mind, the publication today of the Greer item following his refusal to publish anything about a similar case involving Conservatives heavily suggests the latter especially.