Answers from Tom (plus a few extras)

This entry was posted on
Monday, March 10th, 2008
1:56 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

You may recall that last week Paul Staines lifted this item from the Sunday Mercury without crediting that local newspaper as the source (presumably because it simply wouldn’t do to undermine his reputation as the King of Mole Hill).

Point of Hypocrisy #1 – Paul Staines is forever harping on about how MSM ‘steals’ his material without credit, when more often than not it’s simply a case of a number of people getting on to the same story at the same time when Staines has the advantage of instant publication without such mundane concerns as verification, production, litigation, etc.

The Daily Express also lifted the Sunday Mercury item without credit, even using many of the quotes (i.e. as if they had sourced them themselves)… but the Daily Express also made a subtle reference to Derek Conway in their article, when there was no indication of any impropriety regarding any of the employees/income involved.

Later that Monday, the Sunday Mercury article was still in place, but the Daily Express article had been removed. The most likely reason why should have been obvious to anyone who has the slightest clue about libel; after all, the two items were identical in nature right up until the point where the Conway reference was made.

But the reason for this removal appears to be a mystery to Staines and his readers. There are even some comments (anonymous, natch) suggesting that it was removed because of the vast (and quite possibly Stalinist) MSM conspiracy to keep the public in the dark… oh, and did I mention that the Sunday Mercury article was still in place?

Points of Hypocrisy #2, #3 and #4 – Amusing behaviour on the blog of a man who (a) dismisses or deletes anonymous comments when contributors aren’t singing from his song sheet (b) labels those who mention this and other forms of selective moderation as ‘conspiracy theorists’, and (c) is quite fond of ‘disappearing’ information himself.

While all of this was going on, Paul Staines was outdoing the Daily Express by an extraordinary degree, by making an overt comparison to Derek Conway. This is what I blogged at the time:

Bloggerheads – Let’s probe some padded expenses!: The comparison to Derek Conway is totally out of order unless one *only* addresses the money Tom Watson paid to his wife Siobhan and *if* there appears to be some irregularity and/or difficulty proving that she has done this work. (Lister in the Express also works Conway into his article, but is far more careful about it.) The crux of the Conway matter was that Derek Conway had paid his son Freddie Conway £40,000 (over a three year period) and no record was found of any work done by this ‘researcher’. If a fair comparison were to be made, it would involve an estimated £60,000 paid to Siobhan Watson (i.e. over the same period) and there would have to be some indication that she didn’t actually do any work during this period. But instead, Staines (followed by Lister) has grouped the money paid by Tom Watson to his wife with Tom’s own pay and expenses, *and* tacked on money paid to members of his extended family by people and organisations that have *SFA* to do with that MP.

The Conway comparison was totally unfounded and totally uncalled for – and it should be clear why.

But not to Staines.

In a follow-up post, he plays to the conspiracy theorists, delivers a playground-level taunt, fails to link to the challenger(s) he claims to have bested, congratulates himself for being “ahead of the dead-tree-press” (over an item that he lifted from the dead-tree press) and hits us with his usual straw-man bullshit:

Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes) – Pigs to Westminster, Home of the Pork: The unpopular parts of the blogosphere are complaining about Guido’s comparison of the monies received by Tom Watson’s family and the amount received by Derek Conway’s family. None of them dispute that the Watsons suck on the teat of the taxpayer to a far greater extent than the Conways ever did.

Derek Conway is notorious not for his overall level of expenditure, but for his failure to properly account for work done that would justify part of that expenditure.

Paul Staines lifted the guts of an article involving overall expenditure figures – and expenditure that has nothing to do with Tom Watson’s office – and then described the resulting sum as; “far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…”

Here I remind you that the Daily Express article was largely identical to the Sunday Mercury article, with the primary difference being a very subtle reference to Conway (it was presented as ‘background’). Oh, and that the Daily Express article was withdrawn.

But Staines made a direct comparison to Conway, and also implied that some or all of the expenditure involved was fiddled.

But I wouldn’t look forward to Staines’ article being removed anytime soon, as this ‘libertarian’ has taken a number of measures to ensure that he is (or at least appears to be) immune to litigation.

Point of Hypocrisy #5 – And yet if Paul Staines regards himself to be unfairly treated/represented, he will threaten to sue.

Meanwhile, Paul ‘Guido Fawkes’ Staines continues to play the bold, straight-talking warrior for personal freedom… but you should never forget that it’s those lying, two-faced MPs that we have to watch out for.


My MP (Anne Milton, Con) *is* a lying two-faced so-and-so, and recently it emerged that her husband was paid a few grand here and thereonce during a year when he was supposed to be working full-time as an executive for the NHS.

Paul Staines didn’t think this was worth chasing. At all.

Paul Staines also didn’t think it was a good idea to pursue the single portion of Watson-related expenditure that might allow him to make a justified comparison to Conway. So I’ve done the bulk of the work for him… but have left a bonus treat for Paul and his fellow right-wing propagandists and conspiracy theorists. I hope they enjoy it…

Below are the questions I put to Tom Watson, and two answers. Feel free to compare these to the single answer response from Anne Milton.

Q1. Where did Siobhan Watson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

Tom’s Answer: She works in my constituency office, though often comes to sort out stuff in London.

Having visited Tom’s office once or twice when stuff was being sorted out, I can verify the latter.

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Siobhan Watson?

Tom’s Answer: Most lobby journalists know her as the person who turns down lunch invitations. The rest of the world know her as my long suffering PA.

Heh. I like this answer; it has witnesses. I do look forward to Paul’s assertion/suggestion that all lobby journalists are involved in a vast cover-up.

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

Tom’s Answer: [see below]

Tom has reminded me that I already know the answer to this question. And do you know what? I’m going to drop it. If anyone has an issue with that, you know the address.

As Gary pointed out recently, there are no grounds for comparing any of the reported income with the Conway matter and – in my view – no grounds for further investigation.

There may, however, be grounds* for investigating the income of one Paul De L’Aire Staines…

[*Not intended or presented as a reference to Derek Conway. So there.]

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