Archive for the ‘Tories! Tories! Tories!’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at 16 July 2019

Category: Anne Milton, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Jeremy Hunt sees himself as a leadership material: he has already been tested and found wanting.

Recently, I had cause to stop using Twitter. The main problem is a user who persists in targeting me month after month, year after year, with account after account.

Twitter will sometimes address this behaviour, but even when they do, they allow this same user to continue with exactly the same behaviour on other accounts, and never appear to recognise the wider problem even in those rare moments when they acknowledge a single, individual complaint. In short, the vast majority of this behaviour plays out on Twitter’s platform because of their greed and negligence, but they do not see it as their problem.

Somewhat coincidentally, I have the same issue with Jeremy Hunt specifically, and the Conservative Party generally.

Mr Hunt specifically regards the bad conduct of Conservative fundraiser/activists to be someone else’s problem on the basis that they are/were formally active in a neighbouring constituency, and not his own:

“Obviously I would condemn bullying using any medium. However I am not prepared to get involved with investigating the issues you raise as they are about something that is alleged to have happened in a neighbouring constituency and not mine. I have to prioritise my time, and that means focusing on what happens in my own constituency. For that reason I hope you understand if I do not continue any correspondence with you on this matter.”

Jeremy Hunt, 2010: from an entry he has since deleted from his website

To be clear, this policy of Jeremy Hunt’s applies even when said activism involves multiple anonymous false allegations of child rape against a candidate in an election in that neighbouring constituency (a crime under the Representation of the People Act). It even continues to apply when a fellow MP is recorded admitting that they declined to investigate the matter themselves for fear of generating bad publicity during a election. Jeremy Hunt sees no cause to intervene or even raise his voice to object despite multiple failures by his party at a local and national level, because it is not happening in his constituency, and therefore it is not his responsibility.

However, it’s important to note that when the behaviour involves a specific activist targeting one of his own constituents (your humble author, ladies and gentlemen), Jeremy Hunt moves to a position he describes as ‘impartial’, where he neither looks into it, nor acts upon it, for fear of losing this impartial status that is somehow vital to his ability to function as an MP.

Mr Hunt remained impartial when this one activist falsified evidence of my being a dangerous criminal and sent it to an unknown number of Tory MPs. Mr Hunt remained impartial when this one activist was exposed as the author of multiple anonymous web accounts targeting me, and even impersonating me. Mr Hunt remained impartial when this one activist threatened to run me over with his car.

I was once at a charity event in my capacity as a Scouting leader while Mr Hunt was at that same event in his capacity as a Very Rich Person. It was my job to carry his baggage and look after his litter, and I thought perhaps in a fit of charity and/or gratitude for my servile behaviour he would take one look at me in my Scouting uniform and finally appreciate the kind of damage that false allegations of child rape could do to me, a mission I have dedicated much of my life to, and all of the people that I care about.

Instead, Jeremy Hunt feigned memory loss, and as far as he was concerned, that was the end of the problem for him.

Months later, that same activist discovered my involvement in Scouts, and immediately started twinning his false allegations with my role as a volunteer with young people.

To be clear, this activist was specifically seeking to derail my volunteer work with these insanely dangerous allegations over nothing more than a grudge he has carried ever since I dared to criticise a Tory MP he was fundraising for.

(And to be crystal clear to bystanders: there’s no grounds for the allegations, just as there’s no call for the behaviour. To me and you, it’s beyond the pale. To Tories… well, how can we know? They won’t even entertain a serious discussion about where the alleged pale might be for them personally, or if one exists at all in the world that pre-dates their much-vaunted Code of Conduct. Experience teaches me that the Conservative Party policy prior to 2014 especially is best paraphrased as: ‘everything short of a prosecutable offence is entirely your problem, otherwise it is something for you to report to police and pursue in your own time, end of conversation, nothing to do with us’.)

By now it was 2011, and to cut two long stories short, the person targeting me on Twitter today and the Conservative activist I first complained about over a decade ago are the same person.

Yes, the behaviour has continued to this day, and though I have emailed Jeremy Hunt twice about this issue quite recently, he still has no objection to raise and no comment to make about any of it, despite the person involved explicitly and exclusively attacking me over questions I have been raising with Hunt about safeguarding in the Conservative Party.

In an email to all Tory leadership candidates on 12 June 2019, I included my concerns about both issues as follows:

Question #2 for Leadership Candidates: Do you think the recent conviction of three former Conservative mayors for child sex offences is a cause for concern warranting a safeguarding inquiry, or are you fully confident in the safeguarding policies already in place in the Conservative Party at a national and local level?

:
Question #3 for Leadership Candidates: What are the safeguarding policies already in place in the Conservative Party at a national and local level, how long have they been in place and for how long have you personally been familiar with them?

:
I have been making enquires about this issue on Twitter. While asking Jeremy Hunt about it recently, I was confronted by an anonymous Twitter user posing as my ex-wife while accusing me of being a recently-released criminal with an unhealthy interest in children generally and child rape specifically. They then sought to connect this with my volunteering role with young people. I ceased my line of questioning and all activity on Twitter until the account could be dealt with.

:

I do not appreciate being silenced by bullying, but thanks to Twitter I can now link authorship of this account to a Conservative activist/fundraiser connected to Anne Milton, and it is certainly not the first time they have behaved like this.

:
[redacted]

:
It is on this note that we turn to my second series of questions.

:
Question #4 for Leadership Candidates: Is it appropriate in your view to address questions about safeguarding (or anything else) by targeting the person asking the questions with false allegations/insinuations of child rape using an anonymous web account?

:
Question #5 for Leadership Candidates: How would you react today if you discovered that people directly involved in your campaign were behaving like this? How would you react if they were merely in a ‘neighbouring constituency’?

:
Question #6 for Leadership Candidates: Do you support the notion of an inquiry into how the Conservatives have handled complaints of web-based and real-life bullying in the years prior to the introduction of their Code of Conduct in 2014?

Extract from email to all Conservative leadership candidates, 12 June 2019

Jeremy Hunt didn’t get back to me, but then, neither did any of the other candidates, because that’s how Tories roll.

Here’s where we have to acknowledge that Boris Johnson is far worse as a human being and easily manipulated by those who are even worse than he is, but you should not pretend for a second that Jeremy Hunt is a man of honour, or integrity, or moral standards. If by some miracle Hunt ends up as leader, he will be turning a blind eye to the worst his party has to offer right up until the point that it consumes him, just like May, and just like Cameron before her.

Tories will be voting for a Tory, after all; what should you or I expect but more of the same?

On that note, despite my being silent on social media for months, the same activist has continued to target me with further accounts and wider false allegations of my being a dangerous criminal fixated on the idea of child rape… because that’s what you get when you dare to object to false allegations of child rape in an election campaign, and it just so happens to be the same thing that happens when you raise legitimate questions and concerns about the state of safeguarding in the Conservative Party.

Below is my entire second email to Jeremy Hunt (dated 24 June 2019). A single name has been redacted for personal security reasons.

Dear Jeremy,

:
I heard you calling Boris Johnson a coward, and wanted to check that you were still refusing to comment on the antics of [redacted].

:
If you recall, you are also refusing to answer any questions about Simon Thornton and associated safeguarding* issues in your party.

:
In fact, the only answer I have received on Twitter after many months of asking came not from you, but from any anonymous Twitter user posing as my ex-wife while accusing me of being a recently-released criminal with an unhealthy interest in children generally and child rape specifically. The author also went to the trouble of attaching this to my volunteer work in Scouting.

:
You may recall we met at a local fundraising event in 2011 soon after I had once again expressed my concern to you about Mr [redacted] seeking to address my criticism of local Tories with false allegations of child rape. You pretended you didn’t even recognise his name.

:

For the record, I am still in Scouting, Mr [redacted] has continued this behaviour since then, this most recent anonymous account sought to attack me in the same way, once again in defence of you specifically, and I can link authorship of this anonymous account directly to [redacted] (thanks to a report from Twitter following a complaint about the account).

:

All of my previous complaints about [redacted] and his behaviour in the name of local Conservative politics went ignored, even those made to you when I was your constituent. This has clearly led Mr [redacted] to believe that he will not be called to account by you or any other Conservative over his use of anonymous accounts attacking me or any other critics.

:

That is why he has continued to behave in this way. For over a decade now.

:

So, to put that main question to you in full: I just wanted to check that you were still refusing to comment on the antics of [redacted], or if maybe you’ve finally come around to understanding how you might have played a role in preventing all of this years ago simply by being the kind of leader you’re pretending to be right now.

:

I look forward to your reply.

:

Regards,

:

Tim Ireland

:

*I thought I should also point out that you are running for leader with no clearly stated view about the state of safeguarding in your party, or how it should handle historical allegations of child sex crimes, and it’s not as if I haven’t been asking you about it.

Part-redacted email to Jeremy Hunt, 24 June 2019

Jeremy Hunt did not reply to this email, either. I expect it is the best way for him to remain impartial on the matter.

So, in closing, some words of caution for you:

  1. Tories will be Tories, and that means ‘party before principle’. Always.
  2. Similarly, the Conservative Party evidently has no safeguarding policy worth mentioning, and none of the leadership candidates ever saw fit to discuss the issue, even when asked about it, despite multiple recent prosecutions for child sex offences in their mayoral ranks inside of a year.
  3. Be careful of who you question in the Tory party, even that nice Mr Hunt; it can lead to all sorts of problems designed to make you wish that you had never bothered questioning your betters in the first place.
  4. Boris Johnson is worse and will be a disaster as PM.

I apologise for the radio silence on social media that has been necessitated by this activist’s behaviour; I hope you understand the extent to which he remains a threat to me and the people I care about. I trust that you can now better appreciate my previously stated position that this man will continue to harass me and the people I care about in the name of almighty Conservatism for as long as Hunt and people like him continue to turn a blind eye to it, especially now that he has been at it for more than a decade.

I further apologise that this radio silence means that I have been unable to campaign any further for a safeguarding inquiry during the leadership debates.

Cheers all. Be well.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 30 April 2018

Category: Anne Milton, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Anne-MiltonIn 2006/7, when managing campaigns for Anne Milton and the Tories in Guildford, Jonathan Lord was made aware of two of his own candidates (Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul) involving themselves in false allegations of paedophilia and child rape against another candidate (more/latest).

This was a crime under the Representation of the People Act, as Lord would have known at the time, being a campaign manager. The event also involved a series of hate crimes to do with homophobia and several offences under the Communications Act, but for now let’s focus on the evident crime demonstrably committed by two Tory candidates: knowingly making a false allegation against another candidate, in this instance in the form of digitally shared false allegations of paedophilia and child rape.

Jonathan Lord did not report this crime to police, and he did not suspend his candidates prior to any party investigation, because there was no party investigation. Years later, Lord explained to me very clearly (‘off the record’) that he chose this path because a campaign was in progress, and he did not want to “give succour to (his) opponents” or critics like myself who he accused of ‘twisting’ “other little things.”

Earlier, Lord had claimed that he could not process my emailed complaint unless I wrote him a letter and gave him my home address. I was worried that this sensitive data would be misused or leaked, especially after someone from an earlier Milton campaign came knocking on one poor bloke’s door uninvited after that person had the temerity to mock her in the letters page of the local newspaper. My email complaint was valid in any case (as were those of others who also used email to complain and inform about Something Happening on the Internets), but he persisted with this excuse that ‘no-one submitted a complain in writing’ for years.

Later, my home address was discovered and leaked by one of the local Conservative fundraising executives (who sought to manipulate a third party into publishing it alongside the false allegation that *I* was a child rapist), so I feel my concerns about data misuse from this quarter were extremely well-placed, and I make no apologies for wanting to protect my privacy then or now, especially given how some of Mr Lord’s party political associates continue to behave today.

The latest position of the Conservative Party on this matter is that I should report my concerns to police, which I take to be an extremely disingenuous position, not least because:

(a) The cover-up is as much of an issue as the crimes involved

(b) the statute of limitations is a thing, as they damn well know

(c) it has passed here in large part because of the cover-up they won’t acknowledge

(d) Worse, Jonathan Lord failed to report crimes committed by his candidates when he became aware of them; he didn’t even suspend them as candidates or look into the matter himself.

(e) All of this sets the formal Tory position (for any matter prior to any Code of Conduct) as: ‘anything short of a prosecutable criminal offence is/was none of our business’

But that’s how the party deal with the issue.

Jonathan Lord likes to deal with the issue by avoiding any contact with the issue.

Lord is now the MP for Woking, and his constituency office like to avoid any discussion of the issue on the basis that it all happened before he became their MP, so therefore is none of their concern. His Parliamentary office in turn refuses to answer any question not issued by a constituent, but last week, while everybody was dancing and diving about trying to give their man plausibly deniability, something wonderful happened… a minor kerfuffle ensued over the possibility that someone might have said ‘no comment’ instead of keeping their mouth shut, and in the panic, Jonathan Lord was openly CCed on his personal address.

So, two things here:

– I would respectfully request that in future Mr Lord conduct his business using his official Parliamentary address, as it would not do to have him dodge his responsibilities under data protection/access and freedom of information laws.

– Mr Lord can no longer deny having seen the following questions, and by now it can be demonstrated that he chooses to avoid them rather than answer them.

Here are the questions that Jonathan Lord the Conservative MP for Woking refuses to answer.

1.
In your role as campaign leader, you must have known that both Dennis Paul and Mike Chambers violated the law, even if they spoke the truth when they denied authorship of the relevant anonymous website. Why did you not report this to police yourself?
:
2.
Are you aware of any Code of Conduct for the Conservative Party and any/all of its members that pre-dates the ‘voluntary’ code introduced in 2014? If so, please provide copies for the years covering our dispute.
:
3.
Kindly cite the Tory party policy that existed at the time that required me to disclose my home address to you via a letter before you would process my complaint.
:
4.
Do you have any personal regrets about the way this was handled by you and how it subsequently escalated to the point where a Guildford-based fundraising executive later took it upon himself to ‘down’ me on Anne Milton’s behalf with yet another false allegation of child rape?
:
5.
Dennis Paul and Mike Chambers both denied authorship of the anonymous sites targeting me and their opposing candidate. [REDACTED] Do you as a serving MP recognise the value in determining the truth of the matter after all these years, and are you willing to cooperate?
:
6.
David Cameron’s office stated at the time that he was confident that the matter was being ‘investigated at a local level’, but I can demonstrate that it was not. If it had been investigated, both Chambers and Paul would have been suspended. Are you aware if David Cameron ever came to know that it had not been investigated at a local level, and if so, what did he have to say about that to you, the person who should have investigated it?

For the record, Jonathan Lord isn’t the only Tory having difficulty with this issue, or those questions about what Code(s) of Conduct existed for volunteers and candidates prior to now:

Any respectable person would have been horrified by the actions of these candidates/fundraisers. I am of the view that it should have been bigger and more important than any personal difference or political dispute then, and should be now.

You may not be concerned about it or the years-long cover-up that followed… but surely you have some questions about how the Tories got by without a Code of Conduct before now, and what formal party-wide policy (if any) applied to past complaints. I’ve raised it with dozens of Conservative MPs, and none of them have any answers to this simple question:

What is the current Code of Conduct worth if it is laid on a foundation of lies? How can MPs like Jonathan Lord credibly claim to stand by it in principle when they demonstrably do not stand by its principles?








Posted by Tim Ireland at 28 June 2017

Category: Geekage, Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2017

(EARLIER: Word Clouds for Labour/Conservative party Twitter accounts during #GE2017)

I write about politics and corruption and what have you, but when I’m not wearing my cape, I also do data analysis on keyword search data for SEO purposes and have done so for years and years and years and years (and years and years and years and y). My job is to recognise significant patterns, particularly those that represent potential real-world opportunities; behind every keyword query is a real person who wants something, and seeing/appreciating this data appropriately, you learn to gauge the intent and mindset of entire crowds, what their desires are, and how they go about getting their hands on what they think they want.

What we are going to do today is look at the text output from the Twitter accounts of the two biggest parties during the 2017 General Election and try to gain a similar understanding of the tribes behind them; basically, how they each pitched their message to a nation of 65 million people, and how some of the 16 million Twitter users in this country responded.

Now, I know some of you have a pretty good idea of what just happened, but trust me: the devil is in the detail.

(Declaration of Interest: I was one of hundreds engaging in the sport of replying to the @Conservatives’ account during one of the worst-run campaigns in living memory, but as busy as I was, my input is a blip on the radar and nowhere near the numbers I would need to skew Replies data in any meaningful way.)

All figures relate to Tweets and Retweets by @UKLabour and @Conservatives throughout the formal/traditional campaign period for the 2017 General Election. The relevant tweets start at 18 April 2017 and end at midnight on 7 June 2017, when all tweets/figures were captured. There was a final burst of activity from both accounts on election day itself because loopholes in social media are a thing, but there was nothing out of the ordinary beyond the predictable focus on mobilising voters on a national and local level, so I saved a copy of these cheeky extras and put them in a drawer somewhere to forget about later.

TOAP (‘Text On a Picture’) is not included in the figures for word counts or any analysis, and I make no apologies for that. It’s so labour-intensive that I’d need an obsessive intern on performance-enhancing drugs just to extract the data, and I can’t afford the amphetamines, even if I go off-brand or generic.

The captured text was edited ONLY to distinguish between the person May and other uses of the verb ‘may’ or the month ‘May’ for reasons that should be obvious.

I am also blocked on Twitter by @CCHQPress (for complaining about bullying) and by @grantshapps (ditto), so any RTs of tweets from these accounts will be missing from my data set, if they occurred at all.

Material retweeted from accounts with many followers (e.g. those of the respective leaders) and accounts with few followers (e.g. first-time candidates) can arguably boost/drag totals and skew averages, but while we will be taking a quick peek at the likely extent of any distortion in this analysis, I don’t think there’s much in it, and in any case I would argue that the robustness of these leader or ‘soldier’ accounts is just as relevant to the final picture.

Finally, before we go into the data, if you are new to Twitter you need to know about something called ‘The Ratio’:

The Ratio refers to an unofficial Twitter law which states that if the amount of replies to a tweet greatly outnumbers the amount of retweets and likes, then the tweet is bad. – source | relevant article

In this context, retweets are being artificially inflated through legitimate but atypically overt promotion through party/membership networks and (sometimes) media interest, but there’s no hiding The Ratio, and you’re going to see it again and again.

Obviously, there are exceptions to The Ratio that include unusual outpourings of sympathy and/or solidarity, but you’re going to see that, too.

And so, without further fuss or ado, let’s get onto that beautiful data and the Magic Eye pictures lurking behind it…

BIG NUMBERS

Follower/Following totals for each account at 7 June 2017:
|__ @Conservatives: 265K Followers (while Following 1.6K)
|_____ @UKLabour: 447K Followers (while Following 14.1K)

Total number of tweets and retweets published during election:
|__ @Conservatives: 1,507 – (903 Tweets, 604 Retweets)
|_____ @UKLabour: 1,007 – (757 Tweets, 250 Retweets)

Feedback Totals (All Tweets) : Replies | Retweets | Likes
|__ @Conservatives: 252,848 | 260,347 | 385,534
|_____ @UKLabour: 54,775 | 643,378 | 865,129

First appearance of The Ratio, and comparison shows Tories getting 5 times as many ‘Replies’ as Labour over time, but with less than half the number of ‘Retweets’ and even fewer ‘Likes’.

Feedback Average (Per tweet/RT) : Replies | Retweets | Likes
|__ @Conservatives: 167.8 | 172.8 | 255.8
|_____ @UKLabour: 54.4 | 638.9 | 859.1

Labour were getting maybe 50 replies on the average tweet/RT, but over 600 retweets and near to 900 likes. Conservatives, by comparison, were getting over 150 replies with near the same number of retweets, and just over 250 likes.

The numbers clearly show the Conservatives enjoying far less support than Labour on Twitter and more of what one might kindly refer to as feedback, but you’ll get your chance to make your own mind up about that soon.

A closer look at the data shows just over 100 tweets/RTs through @UKLabour exceeding 1,000 retweets, but only 28 through @Conservatives. There was one tweet from @Theresa_May that we’ll get to in a moment that got far more RTs than anything else from them (over 17,000). If I take the figures out for that tweet and re-calculate averages without it, you’ll see a dip of 5 points in Replies and 10 in Retweets (see revised set below):
|__ @Conservatives: 162.7 | 163.4 | 241.3

This is by far the largest potential skew in the set, and there’s no meaningful dent in what the numbers are telling us. It might be different if one party or the other were repeatedly retweeting from more popular tweets/accounts for the sheer hell of it in order to distort their figures somehow, but nothing like that was going on.

While we’re on this subject, let’s swing to the other end of the scale briefly to visit some of the less ‘popular’ tweets that are letting the rest of the class down, before moving on to a closer look at the top performers:

SMALL NUMBERS

The lowest performing tweet/RT by @UKLabour (with 4 replies, 22 retweets and 61 Likes) was this RT from a Labour candidate who later retained her seat in Westminster North.

The lowest performing tweet/RT by @Conservatives (with 5 replies, 9 retweets 19 likes) was this RT from Eric Pickles, during one of the occasional short barrages that happened when the @Conservatives were busy shouting at the telly.

(Eric, if you’re reading this, we need to have words about Tory fundraising executives who make false allegations of child rape, and why you think that’s something to joke about, and not something to be alarmed about.)

MOST REPLIES

The tweet/RT by @Conservatives with the most replies was an RT of this tweet by Boris Johnson, and you’re welcome to browse through the replies that I have dared to tag as ‘mostly negative’:

The tweet above had 7,828 replies by midnight 7 June. The tweet below was in a distant third with 6,121 replies at the time, but it has gained many more replies since the election for some reason (again, mostly negative in my view, but you’re welcome to look):

The tweet/RT by @UKLabour with the most replies was an RT of this tweet by Jeremy Corbyn (1,753 replies by midnight 7 June), and you’re welcome to browse through the replies that I have dared to tag as ‘mixed’:

Sure, some people under that tweet are alleging or implying that Corbyn is soft on terrorism (as per the Tory/tabloid campaign against him), but this is the most-replied-to example from @UKLabour by far for the entire campaign, and even if you were to wrongly determine that all of the replies were negative, you would have to accept that vocal anger against Corbyn (legit or not) was totally overshadowed by vocal anger against the Tories, even when the former was at its most intense.

This is also the most-retweeted and most-liked of all tweets that appeared via the @UKLabour account.

The second-most-replied-to Tweet was also an RT from Corbyn, from the very beginning of the campaign. Replies are tagged ‘mixed’ again, but for different reasons, and you’re welcome to check them out for yourself:

MOST RETWEETS/LIKES

The tweet/RT by @Conservatives with the most retweets was an RT of this tweet by Theresa May, which one might describe as ‘newsy’ and perhaps a bit controversial to boot. It had 14,230 retweets by midnight on 7 June, it was only just in 2nd place for ‘Most Replies’ (7,759) and it smashed any competition for ‘Most Likes’ (22,155).

‘Likes’ aren’t always good, by the way. The same could be said of retweets, especially in this context:

The 2nd-most-retweeted tweet through @UKLabour – with 15,753 retweets at close of play – is another RT from Corbyn, this one involving voter registration (an issue which will come up again in this analysis):

The 2nd-most-liked tweet through @UKLabour was this one with 50,728 likes during the campaign.

Here I choose to also include the 3rd-most-retweeted tweet shared through @UKLabour, not least because they had FIVE top tweets with RTs in 5 figures compared to only ONE from the Tories, and May had to wind up the whole country about human rights to get that.

TWEETS ONLY

So far, it’s been all RTs, so let me also note this…

The most-retweeted tweet from the core @UKLabour account starred AJ Tracey…

… and it was the 6th-most-retweeted tweet overall, with 8,758 retweets.

The most-retweeted tweet from the core @Conservatives account starred Jeremy Corbyn…

… and it was 2nd-most retweeted tweet of the @Conservatives campaign.

Further, the second-most-retweeted tweet of the @Conservatives campaign had a mere 5,461 retweets, and the highest they went was with a controversial pledge to change human rights laws, earning them 14,230. Quite a drop-off.

This 2nd-most retweeted tweet is more representative of @Conservatives’ peak performance overall, and it just so happens to feature the kind of material their campaign was famous for.

THE ISSUES

@UKLabour mentioned tax 61 times, mainly when guaranteeing ‘no rise in Income Tax for 95% of taxpayers, and no rise in VAT or National Insurance for anyone’.
@Conservatives mentioned tax 114 times, in part by predicting ‘huge inheritance tax bills’ (aka a ‘death tax’) under Corbyn, but mainly with arguments centering on corporation tax and how Corbyn increasing it puts families at risk somehow. More on families shortly.

@UKLabour mentioned the economy 18 times.
@Conservatives mentioned the economy 89 times, mainly to lay claim to a strong economy and/or to warn people that Corbyn would wreck it. More on this shortly, too.

@UKLabour mentioned defence 4 times.
@Conservatives mentioned defence 18 times, mainly to lay claim to a strong defence capability and/or to warn people that Corbyn would dismantle it (or sit around singing Kumbaya… no, seriously).

@UKLabour mentioned Trident and/or our nuclear deterrent 0 times.
@Conservatives mentioned Trident and/or our nuclear deterrent nearly 50 times, and each and every time, it was to call upon Corbyn to talk about it, or remark upon the fact that he hadn’t talked about it enough.

@UKLabour mentioned terror/terrorism and extremism 7 times, with a clear pattern of Corbyn personally denouncing violence and calling for unity and a revised approach to extremism.
@Conservatives mentioned terror/terrorism and extremism 36 times. The vast majority of these tweets allege that Corbyn is soft/weak on terrorism or even associated with terrorists, but one or two do take the time to brag about May’s record/approach (example: “Theresa May as Home Secretary excluded more extremist preachers than any other Home Secretary before her”) and a few even promise a stepped-up version of this same approach, but the less said about that ‘human rights’ tweet, the better. There’s so much more to be upset about…

@UKLabour mentioned homes, houses and housing 91 times.
@Conservatives mentioned homes, houses and housing 21 times.

@UKLabour mentioned jobs 42 times.
@Conservatives mentioned jobs 34 times.

@UKLabour mentioned wages 49 times.
@Conservatives mentioned wages 5 times.

@UKLabour mentioned railways/transport 26 times.
@Conservatives mentioned railways/transport 0 times.

@UKLabour mentioned the NHS 196 times.
@Conservatives mentioned the NHS 25 times.

@UKLabour mentioned education 64 times.
@Conservatives mentioned education 7 times.

@UKLabour mentioned young people 75 times.
@Conservatives mentioned young people 6 times.

@UKLabour mentioned family or families 19 times.
@Conservatives mentioned family or families 95 times.

Well done, families, but before you get ahead of yourselves: you were used to defend corporation tax and as a pawn in further attacks on Jeremy Corbyn predicting “#chaos for families across the UK”. Further, of the 95 tweets that mention family or families, 55 used the word to stoke fear of economic chaos or hardship under Corbyn (example), a further dozen merely implied danger (including an increased danger of terror attack under Corbyn), and the rest was May begging for votes to ‘strengthen her hand’ (example). I believe I mentioned a certain Mr Devil would be found in that detail, and here’s a prime example of something that looks a bit good for the Tories until you take a closer look at it and see that their use of the word ‘family’ is as much of a sham as anything else. Back to the list…

@UKLabour mentioned pensions or pensioners 79 times.
@Conservatives mentioned pensions or pensioners 8 times.

@UKLabour mentioned immigrants or immigration 0 times
@Conservatives mentioned immigrants or immigration 33 times

@UKLabour mentioned Brexit 38 times.
@Conservatives mentioned Brexit 454 times.

@UKLabour promoted voter registration 149 times.
@Conservatives promoted voter registration 0 times.

Raise your hand if you arrived at this boring-looking list expecting it to be a long way from interesting and certainly not utterly fucking devastating.

Well, we’re not done yet…

THE LEADERS/THE OPPOSITION

@UKLabour mentioned Theresa May by name, surname or username 39 times out of 1007 tweets and RTs.

The vast majority of these messages referred to her fox-hunting position or called on May to provide answers to questions about social/pensioner care arising from her manifesto.

@Conservatives mentioned Jeremy Corbyn by name, surname or username 536 times out of 1,507 tweets and RTs; more than a third of the time.

The vast majority of these messages condemned Corbyn or called on him to condemn things himself, so it’s pretty clear what the Tories were doing instead of talking about the issues, and in any case the word clouds I published at the height of the campaign tell this exact same story.

There were 83 Retweets from @jeremycorbyn published by @UKLabour.
There were 62 Retweets from @theresa_may published by @Conservatives.

@Conservatives mentioned their own leader Theresa May by name another 300 times besides this, compared to @UKLabour heralding their leader only 10 times.

Ten. Times.

For the rest of the campaign they allowed him to speak for himself, almost as if he were a real leader, leading people. Quite a novel approach in this election, as it turns out.

Figures also indicate that there is some balance in reference to the opposition, just not so focused on the leader where Labour is concerned:

@UKLabour mentioned the word ‘Tory’ 111 times, ‘Tories’ 189 times and ‘Conservatives’ 10 times, totalling 310 mentions of the Conservative party (compared to 39 mentions of May by name).

That’s an 8:1 ratio in favour of party over personality from @UKLabour

Now, consider the number of times @Conservatives mentioned ‘Labour’ by name: 90 times (compared to 536 mentions of Corbyn by name).

That’s a 6:1 ratio in favour of personality over party from @Conservatives

This alone shows how fundamentally different the two campaigns were, and it really bears mentioning that it was Labour and not the Conservatives who had a leader with a personality worth focusing on.

CONCLUSIONS

The Twitter facet of the Tory campaign failed so completely and so thoroughly on its own merits that the only thing that really bears mentioning about @UKLabour in any short conclusion is its comparative normality and evident popularity.

@Conservatives failed to focus on issues and instead focused on personalities, to their evident detriment. The Twitter public was clearly upset by their campaign and expressing specific concerns about it, but no-one was listening, presumably because Mummy knew best. The Tories were deaf to public anger to such an extent that they recycled widely derided and even previously-discredited material throughout the campaign. They also released a notoriously callous and over-confident manifesto into the wider storm of upset and thought nothing of it.

Even if Tories were so paranoid as to ignore the specifics of negative feedback, the numbers alone (that were blindingly obvious very early in the campaign) would have screamed ‘Change direction!’ to any social media manager worth their salt. I can only speculate why no-one changed direction, but my best guess is the kind of raw hubris that comes with never having to face up to responsibility even once in your life.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 1 June 2017

Category: Inneresting, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2017

I thought it would be interesting to have a summary of what the major parties are saying on Twitter during #GE2017, so here’s what I did:

For both @Conservatives and @UKLabour, I took all tweets & replies from every day for the entire month of May 2017, and pasted them into a spreadsheet. I then removed all of the Twitter fittings & furniture and usernames and what have you, so the only words that remained were from the body of tweets.

(Obviously, words that were displayed in image or video files were not detected or counted.)

I then entered each set of words into a .TXT file for upload to wordclouds.com, gave each resulting text cloud the same font, shape, size and pattern, and the results are what you see below: a visual summary of what each campaign has had to say so far, as expressed through Twitter.

word cloud of @uklabour tweets

Word Cloud of tweets by @Conservatives during May 2017

Word cloud of @Conservatives tweets

Word Cloud of tweets by @Conservatives during May 2017

I’ll leave any analysis to others. Personally, I think the data speaks for itself.

Do feel free to use these images to make your point out there, just be sure to link back to the little black duck who did all of the hard work.

Cheers all.

Psst! Look for me in Replies to the @Conservatives, and check out the tag #TheyLie on Twitter, especially if you’re a fan of kicking ass and chewing bubblegum.

(MINI-UPDATE – I should be clear that I gave each set the same instructions. While both data sets are trying to form a circle, one data set clearly looks more organic than the other, and that’s because that data set has more variety in the text.)

UPDATE – Full analysis of @UKLabour/@Conservatives Twitter output during #GE2017








Posted by Tim Ireland at 7 December 2016

Category: Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!

[24 April 2017 – Someone’s still at it. See full update at end of post.]

You may recall David Davies being in the news a few weeks back. Then again, you may not, and given the reason why he was in the news at the time, he’d probably prefer it that way:

Independent (19 October) – Dentists condemn MP’s call for child refugees from Calais to have teeth checked

I know that someone didn’t like this highlighted text being in his Wikipedia profile. It was removed on 21 October.

'When, in October 2016, the UK admitted 15 children from the camp with a legal right to travel to the UK, he asserted without foundation that all were actually adults lying about their ages.'

This highlighted text was also removed at the same time, by the same editor.

'He defended himself against accusations of homophobia by saying that he could not be homophobic as he had once punched a gay man.'

The person who made these edits made them anoymously, and offered no reason/justification for the removal of the highlighted text; presumably, they just didn’t like what they were reading in Wikipedia, so they removed it.

The only clue left behind by the anonymous editor was an IP address, which doesn’t always reveal much on its own… but by sheer chance I had emailed David Davies at around this same time, and the exact same IP address turned up among the recipients.

So I emailed David Davies about this edit, and made it very clear that it could be demonstrated that either he or a member of his staff had edited Wikipedia anonymously in his favour.

David Davies’ response? Well, he didn’t have one.

I made it very clear that if he had no knowledge of the edit and/or wanted to investigate the matter, then he should have the opportunity to look into it and any subsequent article should reflect that.

Instead, David Davies chose to say/do nothing and just wait for it all to blow over for reasons we can only guess at.

I leave you with that mystery and the questions that David Davies chose not to answer:

How often do you and your staff edit Wikipedia anonymously?
:
How often have you personally edited this page anonymously?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Davies_(Welsh_politician)
:
How often do you personally edit other pages anonymously?
:
Assuming you are willing to admit to anonymous edits, how do you defend this action, given that (a) Wikipedia is meant to be a neutral reference site, not a PR site containing only things that you approve of, and (b) MPs are meant to hold to high standards of transparency and accountability?

Of course, I will be sure to update this article if David Davies suddenly thinks of a response to all of this six weeks after the event, but personally I don’t expect much from anonymous cowards and/or MPs who use them to protect their reputations, and neither should you.

[NOTE – I emailed David Davies about the issue of party-political bullying. He declined to comment very clearly on the grounds that it was not a constituency issue.]

UPDATE (24 April 2017) – Since I wrote this article, there have been further multiple anonymous attempts to remove all mention of controversy from the Wikipedia profile of David Davies (link).

Wikipedia discussion about edits of page of David Davies

You can read what Wikipedia editors wrote about their concerns (and how that conversation develops) here, but to be clear on this point for any new readers:

I do not edit Wikipedia under any name, and I do not advise that you go rushing in there in response to any of this, either. It is far preferable that an experienced editor with no dog in the race handle the problem.

That said, you may want to look at the ‘Talk’ and ‘View History’ links on the profile page of your local MP/candidate today and see if this snap election hasn’t prompted a few nervous edits. There are many MPs who struggle to understand the difference between an election pamphlet and something that is supposed to be reference material, and any MP who conspires to secretly censor their own Wikipedia entry clearly struggles with wider issues such as honesty, integrity, accountability, and democracy.

By now it can be demonstrated that David Davies is one such MP: even if he avoided making the edits himself, he was advised of anonymous edits in his favour involving an IP address used by his office/staff months ago, and chose to ignore the issue.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 26 July 2016

Category: Anne Milton, Teh Interwebs, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK General Election 2015

“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 by Tim Ireland at 15 December 2015

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

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 by Tim Ireland at 20 October 2015

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

I will get straight to the point. My concern is twofold:

1. I am concerned that Elliott Johnson complained to CCHQ that he was being bullied, was suddenly confronted with an escalation of bullying because someone at CCHQ had leaked the details of his complaint to the person targeting him, and perceived himself to be in such a hopeless and isolated position that a tragedy resulted.

2. I am further concerned that the Conservative party will struggle to learn from the findings of an internal investigation with a narrow remit by a former party candidate and ‘aspiring MP’, and will risk the rights and well-being of others purely because they are concerned about their image at a crucial time when they are trying to portray a resurgent opposition as a bunch of bullies.

This is not wild speculation. I have experienced similar problems myself with CCHQ, and the result of their indiscretion and neglect was escalation up to and including repeated false allegations of child rape and suggestions from my bully that I should “drink bleach” or otherwise do myself in. Bullies often escalate when they think they are under threat, and even revisit this behaviour when the heat is off if they discover they have been able to use certain behaviours without consequence. The most recent messages (yes, this is still happening) assure me that if I will soon end up in jail or “topped” if I continue to ‘whine’ about it.

Obviously, I risk further escalation for daring to raise these issues publicly, but I do not see that I have much of a choice; I have raised my concerns about this privately with CCHQ, and they continue to be lackadaisical and dismissive about it, even now.

I attempted contact with the Chairman two weeks ago. I raised concerns about how previous complaints were handled and sought his assurance that any future complaints would be handled appropriately. I also asked for a suitable email address for concerned members of the public who might wish to contact him in confidence. Let’s deal with the response to the latter request first:

At present, if you think yourself to be a victim of bullying by Tory activists, you are advised to complain ‘in writing’ by email to chairman@conservatives.com

However, this advice is not publicised in any meaningful way; I only have it because I asked for it. There’s vague talk of email(s) to an unknown number of members of the Conservative party, but there has been no attempt by the Conservatives to reach out to potential victims outside of the party (which is typical as it is short-sighted), and there has been no attempt to make this point-of-contact for victims of bullying obvious and readily-accessible on the web, despite the recent tragedy. It would cost the Conservative Party next to nothing to create a single web page on their site asking for victims of bullying to come forward. Why doesn’t such a page exist? (Rhetorical question: we all know why.)

Further, any complaint that does get sent to chairman@conservatives.com will not only be read by the Chairman, but somewhere between six and a dozen other people who play an unknown role behind the scenes. You will also most likely receive a reply from a person other than the Chairman, claiming to act on their behalf, who will not give their last name. None of this will fill victims with confidence, even if they get this far.

Some might see this less-than-confidential channel as a potential security issue given the closeness of someone like Mark Clarke to a previous Chairman, and the allegations of leaks of complaints that have been sent in recent times. It is certainly an issue to someone who, for example, has been lured into a ‘sex act’ online and has been threatened with public exposure; surely someone who has been put in such a position deserves actual confidentiality?

There is also the minor problem that the present Chairman, Lord Feldman: (a) does not recognise that leaks/disclosures of complaints about bullying have happened in the past, and (b) appears utterly unconcerned that acting Chairmen including Sayeeda Warsi and Grant Shapps have been directly and demonstrably involved in such leaks/disclosures.

If Lord Feldman does not recognise these events and take steps to acknowledge and address them, then any assurance on his behalf by some-guy-called-Nick about complaints being treated in a “sensitive and confidential manner” is meaningless, especially when it is matched with a claim that “the Conservative Party has always taken any accusations of bullying seriously,” because it quite evidently hasn’t.

To be clear on this point: Lord Feldman has been sent an early draft of this article containing the relevant allegations and has declined to comment. The present Chairman cannot and will not deny that former Chairmen have been directly involved in the leaking of complaints about bullying to those who are alleged to be involved in the bullying. But there won’t be any investigation into that, because politics.

It is a pity that the present Chairman does not see any reason to acknowledge past failures and establish new protocols that are designed to better-protect victims of bullying and encourage them to come forward. It is a key reason why an internal party inquiry has no legitimacy and no hope of uncovering the full picture.

There needs to be an independent inquiry not only into this issue, but how reports of bullying have been handled under David Cameron’s leadership in recent years.

Please take the time to sign the petition in support of an independent inquiry.

Victims of bullying should be made to feel safer from the moment their concerns are first heard. They should not be made to feel less safe because the only person paying any attention to their complaint is their bully.

At present, there are many people – including myself* – who are past and/or present targets of bullying by party members, but dare not report the detail because of well-placed concerns that sensitive data will be dismissed with a sniff and shared without a thought. If the Conservative Party cannot and will not show that this attitude has changed, they will continue having a problem even if they set out with the best of intentions from this point on.

(*To make my own interest in this matter clear: I continue to be targeted by a bully because I dared to report bullying. This bullying mainly takes the form of a bully shouting ‘bully’ at me, but he makes other allegations of criminal behaviour such as stalking and monetary fraud, and other party members – including MPs who should know better – often join in. This is called ‘projection’. Grant Shapps became so upset with me over this report of his bullying that he repeated some of these allegations in his formal capacity as Party Chairman. This is called ‘displacement’. The party promised my lawyers a reponse to the latter behaviour ‘shortly after the election’. We’re still waiting.)

Please, please take the time to sign the petition in support of an independent inquiry.

UPDATE (25 Oct) – Elliott Johnson’s father Ray Johnson has called for a Scotland Yard inquiry and in the relevant article, the Daily Mail reveal that there are victims who are too afraid to submit evidence to an internal inquiry because of earlier leaks. By this stage, it is fair to say that CCHQ are actively avoiding the idea of an independent inquiry… but this same attitude of putting party image before principle is what led to this mess in the first place. It is also fair to say that Ray Johnson’s concerns about a cover-up are well placed. Lord Feldman already knows that they will not hear from all victims if CCHQ press ahead with an internal inquiry; this in itself is a form of cover-up.

UPDATE (28 Oct) – Read Ray Johnson’s open letter to Lord Feldman here.

UPDATE (19 Nov) – In a deeply cynical move, yesterday the Tory party banned Mark Clarke from the party for life as a bold and (they hoped) spectacular sacrifice ahead of a highly damaging Newsnight report. It is blindingly obvious that this was done in an attempt to protect the senior Tories who neglected the problem of bullying in their ranks for years. The senior Tories who have serious questions to answer are (surprise, surprise) former party Chairs Sayeeda Warsi and Grant Shapps… oh, and the current Chairman Lord Feldman:

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath, told Newsnight he first raised concerns about Clarke’s behaviour with party bosses in 2010 and had discussed Clarke with current party chairman Lord Feldman and Baroness Warsi, chair from 2010 to 2013. Mr Howlett said: “We’ve complained about him [Clarke] for a long period of time, and it’s not just him, it was people that were attributed to him as well. I complained when I was national chairman directly to Sayeeda Warsi as the party chairman, I complained directly to the chairman’s office when Grant Shapps took over as the party chairman and I have to say Lord Feldman has been well aware of all this, for a very long period of time.”

It should not be left to the media to investigate this. There needs to be a formal, independent inquiry into how bullying complaints generally have been handled by Warsi, Shapps, Feldman and every other Chairman serving under Cameron’s leadership.

UPDATE (20 Nov) – Things are moving very quickly now. The scandal has exploded onto the front page of today’s Daily Mail, the Tories look like they are lining Mr Shapps up to be next under the bus, and Feldman is rushing to lend the internal inquiry credibility with appeals for victims to come forward and offers of an independent review after the fact.

(Meanwhile, it has been rightly pointed out on ConservativeHome of all places that Feldman’s own defence about what he knew when is undermined by his serving as Chairman alongside both Warsi and Shapps.)

Feldman is forced to make these gestures because he knows that myself and others been right all along about the need for an independent inquiry.

One of the problems with the internal inquiry (that the Tories are not inclined to publish) is its narrow remit. What has caused this issue to be recognised as the scandal it is: the appearance of a series of witnesses now including a Tory MP (Ben Howlett) who testify that they too made complaints to Warsi and Shapps about bullying, only to be ignored and/or subjected to further bullying as a result.

It is no coincidence that this mirrors my experience, because this has been an institutional problem with the Conservative Party for a very, very long time, and that is why members, victims and public generally need and deserve an independent inquiry into how bullying complaints have been handled by Chairmen serving under Cameron’s leadership.

To hurry things along, I have chosen to use my own circumstances to press the issue. A recent statement claimed that the party is now willing to look into complaints as far back as 2007. I expect that they mean but do not say that this promise is restricted to ‘complaints about Mark Clarke and maybe his associates’, and so have written the following email to Lord Feldman putting him on the spot and make it public here so there is no question about the hole he has dug for himself:

From: Tim Ireland
To: chairman@conservatives.com
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 11:00 AM
Subject: My complaint

Dear Lord Feldman (and assorted underlings),

I am informed that recently the party “vowed to keep searching for complaints made as far back as 2007”.

So, will you be accepting my complaint at last, or admitting that your internal inquiry has such an impossibly narrow remit as to make it irrelevant?

I can demonstrate that both Warsi and Shapps mishandled serious and valid complaints about bullying. Further, I can demonstrate that both Grant Shapps and David Cameron turned a blind eye when it emerged that Jonathan Lord had done the same on a local/association level.

I have hard evidence to support all of the above, including emails, tracking from same, and a recording of Jonathan Lord.

Do you wish to accept evidence of mishandling of complaints of bullying, or are you ready to admit that your internal inquiry is only making limited inquiries that focus on the alleged conduct of Mark Clarke?

Also, when can I expect the response that the party promised about what Grant Shapps published about me in his capacity as co-Chairman? Your letter promised a reply soon after the election, but I am still waiting.

Regards,

Tim Ireland

At present, Feldman’s options are:

1. Admit the internal inquiry has a narrow remit, but brazen it out anyway
2. Accept that the issue isn’t merely about the behaviour of some young(ish) activists but how complaints about bullying have handled by a series of Chairmen
3. Ignore a legitimate complaint about bullying that rings exactly the same alarm bells that everybody ignored when people first started complaining about Mark Clarke.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Meanwhile, I will sign off for now by noting that the anonymous bullying targeting me has grown in intensity since I dared to highlight this issue, and a relevant author of that bullying has seen fit to quietly delete a tweet that made oblique reference to their knowledge of a letter of complaint that was sent to the Prime Minister through Grant Shapps in confidence.

UPDATE (28 Nov) – First up, this recent article in the Guardian is an absolute MUST-READ. It is an excellent and detailed piece on the circumstances/days leading up to Elliott Johnson’s death. Also popular today is Ray Johnson’s call for Feldman and Shapps to accept responsibility for their actions, and I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with his view that there is not only a need for an independent inquiry into the Tory party’s handling of bullying, but an independent body to handle complaints of bullying involving all parties going forward; the Tories aren’t the only tribe with members who put party before principle or otherwise mishandle complaints.

Finally, today I draw your attention toward Sayeeda Warsi’s letter showing that she complained directly to Grant Shapps about Mark Clarke specifically in January of this year and “never received a satisfactory response”.

Three things to note:

1. Warsi could and should have released this earlier in the previous weeks when her party was denying any previous knowledge of Clarke’s behaviour. She didn’t. This is an act of political survival, and not one of principle.

2. The only correspondence that Warsi can produce to show that she had expressed concern about Clarke resulted purely from her concerns that she herself had been targeted with some false allegations. There is no evidence to show that she acted to protect anyone but herself.

3. If Sayeeda Warsi regards her complaint to be valid, then she must also recognise that the complaint that I am aware of that went to her office about bullying was equally valid. But Warsi did not act on the body of the complaint and instead disclosed it to the alleged bully. The target of the bullying then complained to Warsi about this behaviour… and “never received a satisfactory response”. In fact, I can demonstrate through emails from Warsi’s office that this complaint was also disclosed to that same bully, quite brazenly.

Baroness Warsi has some serious questions to answer about her own handling of complaints of bullying and the political usefulness of her disclosure must not be allowed to draw attention away from that.

I have today emailed Warsi about my concerns, and I will let you know if she has any comment/regrets abouts the event I describe… or if she chooses to maintain a strategic silence in order to protect her own neck, just like her fellow former Chairman Mr Shapps.

UPDATE (29 Nov) – Sayeeda Warsi has received my email, and has no comment to offer, and no regret to express. Grant Shapps has resigned from the government (though he remains an MP), Lord Feldman is shitting bricks, and the Prime Minister is responding to calls for an independent inquiry…. by pretending that the existing party inquiry is independent. The audacity is breathtaking:

“The Conservative party has an independent inquiry under way under the oversight of a senior legal figure. I feel deeply for his parents. It is an appalling loss to suffer, and that’s why it is so important that there is the proper independent inquiry. There needs to be, and there is, a proper inquiry to ask all the questions and interview all the people who come forward and that will take place. There is an independent lawyer from Clifford Chance, who will oversee that process and make sure that it reaches clear conclusions from the evidence that comes through.” – David Cameron (source)

There is nothing new in what Cameron offers, and he is trying to spin his way out of it. I am appalled. Utterly appalled.

David Cameron is a weak leader of a corrupt institution. He knows there is worse to come. That is why he prefers to risk a media storm rather than commission an actual independent inquiry into how bullying complaints have been handled under his leadership.

UPDATE (01 Dec) – With his close friend Feldman under pressure to resign, Cameron has now offered to pass the entire investigation to law firm Clifford Chance (rather than simply have them review it after the fact) and twinned this with an offer to publish the resulting report. That it has taken us this long to get these minor allowances is a disgrace, and it still falls short of what is required, not least because of an evidently narrow but as-of-yet undisclosed remit.

Recent events have shown a pattern of negligent if not corrupt behaviour involving a series of Chairmen (ignore the complaint, leak/disclose the complaint to the subject). It is only right that an independent inquiry looks into the institutional failures that eventually led to the tragedy of Eliiott Johnson’s suicide, not merely the events surrounding the suicide itself. That means an inquiry into how complaints of bullying have been handled by a series of party Chairmen and others with similar authority operating under Cameron’s leadership.

It is also important this this inquiry be conducted by a public body, and not a private law firm with close ties to the Conservative Party.

UPDATE (15 Dec) – NEW POST: David Cameron’s not-so-independent inquiry into (some) bullying








Posted by Tim Ireland at 24 September 2015

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

cambullys

The Conservative Party is a deeply tribal organisation, which might in part explain why outsiders are targeted with bullying so often, and why the party apparatus at a local and national level works so effectively to protect those doing the bullying. However, it is now clear that the problem is so pronounced that bullying happens within party ranks, and to such an extent that tragedies unfold before anything meaningful is done.

I work in a youth organisation where it is seen as vitally important that those in a position of responsibility recognise bullying when it is happening and take immediate measures to address the problem quickly, sensitively, and intelligently. In fact, bullying is taken so seriously that the relevant training is a requirement for all adults caring for young people, and I will stress here that we are not trained to wait for a complaint before we act (for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has experienced bullying as a child or adult).

In political campaigning, passions run high and many young people seek to get involved, but I will bet you dollars to donuts that no such training is set as a requirement for candidates, campaign leaders, and/or fundraising executives. In fact, I am painfully aware of situations where bullying from Conservative members/activists has become rampant, but the Conservative Party have refused to conduct an internal inquiry or consider any corrective action because (a) an email was sent reporting the behaviour but they demanded a complaint ‘in writing’, (b) the target of the alleged bullying had not submitted a complaint themselves, (c) police had decided not to take action about a single incident reported to them in the course of the wider bullying, and – my very favourite – (d) an election was in progress at the time, and there were concerns that acting on the complaint might harm the chances of the party and its candidates (two of whom were directly involved in the alleged bullying).

It is sometimes the case where bullying is so out of control that MPs engage in bullying behaviour to intimidate their own constituents. I know of one incident where a constituent sought to report such behaviour to the Chairman, and they responded by simply forwarding the entire email to the relevant MP.

There has even been a recent event where a serving Chairman has been directly involved in bullying of their own constituent.

It is long past time for the Conservative Party to take bullying seriously. There should be an independent inquiry into how bullying complaints have been handled under Cameron’s leadership, and the public should be consulted as part of the process because there are likely to be many incidents that went unrecorded. This is the only way to determine the scale of the problem and the shortfalls of the system in place before recommendations are made for improvements that are long overdue.

I urge you to sign this petition in support of this proposed action, and share it with your friends.

Political leaders generally need to be more aware of what can go wrong when passions run high. The Conservative Party leader specifically needs to take responsibility for repeated failures to address the resulting problems under their leadership.








Posted by Tim Ireland at 16 September 2015

Category: Christ..., Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, Tories! Tories! Tories!

I’d like to set out my stall by first pointing out that the Queen is the head of state (for roughly a dozen countries, IIRC), and not a bludgeoning device to be used for party-political games. It also needs to be noted that a few weeks before The Sun bravely condemned Jeremy Corbyn for ‘disrespecting the Queen’, they bravely condemned the Queen for allegedly making a Nazi salute when she was a child. As the follow-up talking points from a range of Tories revealed, this is merely an excuse to once again push the line that Corbyn is an far-left extremist who wants to overthrow the monarchy, piss on the flag, and eat your babies. If he had sung along, they would instead have called him a hypocrite. Anything to draw attention away from an uncomfortable PMQs for Cameron and the tax credit debate that’s unfolding.

I don’t know about you, but as an agnostic, when I am in church and the hymns begin, I remain silent, but stand respectfully. I’m not causing a fuss. I’m not contradicting or condemning anyone. I am merely exercising my right to not sing along to lyrics that have a deep and religious meaning and purpose that I do not agree with.

A similar convention exists with the national anthem in many countries, including this one. You can, do and should have the freedom to remain seated if you wanted to, but it’s polite to stand, and it’s perfectly OK to not sing along… particularly if you’re Scottish and the assembly is going all the way to the 4th verse.

If the false patriots of The Sun are going to bleat about British values and British traditions, they should acknowledge that Britain is becoming an increasingly enlightened and secular country over time, and everybody should have the right to express their views in any case.

It is perfectly acceptable to hope that Britain can move forward one day without a head of state who was born to the role according to the perceived will of the alleged god of Abraham. It is equally acceptable to decline to sing lyrics that actively pray to that alleged god for an indefinite extension of the status quo.

All of that said, if you wanted to fully exercise your right to free speech, I humbly submit to you three alternative versions of the national anthem for you to sing at appropriate gatherings or in the privacy of your own home:

1. The Inclusive Anthem

I wrote this a few years ago for the benefit of people of alternative faiths who also wished to voice their support for our Queen:

For spontaneity, ask every deity;
‘God(s) save the Queen’.
Brahma & Ek Onkar,
Odin & Zeus & Ra,
Yahweh, Baal, Arinna;
God(s) Save the Queen!

2. ‘God Bless My Underwear’

This is a variation on a classic that I wrote for a campfire songbook. It takes a minor liberty with the structure of the verses, but that is the least of its sins:

God hear my sacred prayer, please bless my underwear
Make them pristine
This is my only pair
Save me from wear and tear
Don’t let my bum go bare
God, keep them clean.
(da-da da-da da-da)
God hear my under-prayer,
Because you’re everywhere,
While you are down in there,
God, keep them clean.

3. The Air Guitar Anthem

And, finally, for those narcissists who see no reason to worship or praise anyone but themselves, I present to you the ultimate in anthemic self-indulgence. It is important that at the key moment* you reveal your air guitar and invisible pick with a flourish, assume the position (legs apart, hips forward), then begin pseudo-shredding while making electric guitar noises to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen’. With gusto.

I am a big rock star
This is my air guitar*
Wah-wah-wah-wahhhh
Wang-wang wahhhh-wang-wang
Diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-waaaah-kerrang
Wah wah-wah wah-wah wahhhh wah-wang
Wah-wah-wah-WAHHHHH!

Thank you, Cleveland, and goodnight.








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