More on that nice Mr Shapps

A very detailed post from Alex Wilcock about Grant Shapps and his by-election adventures.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

While we wait for the court case to conclude…

… here’s some light reading for you:

The Stormfront White Nationalist Community discuss the Grell affair.

I strongly advise that you observe and not engage in this instance.

(Please note that this site may be blocked by many providers and workplaces. There’s some background here if you need it.)

UPDATE – Tch. Looks like we’ll be waiting longer than expected…

East London and West Essex Guardian – Verdict delayed in councillor “sex slur” case

… but I’m sure you’ll be happy to learn that you’re not obliged to spend the entire waiting period at Stormfront.

Posted in Tolerance | Comments Off

Iain Dale: the smear test

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

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

Indiscreet?! Not the word I’d use.

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

1) He is gay.

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

2) His partner is notably younger than he is.

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

3) His partner is Malaysian.

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

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

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

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

Iain Dale’s Diary – Top Labour Blogger in Trouble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iain didn’t blog the item.

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

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

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

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

Please pay particular attention to the closing comment:


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

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


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


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


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

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

Iain Dale

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

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

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

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

They’re one of your lot, too…. approved by Head Office:

Take a look at how close their techniques are to Paul’s…

and yours*:

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

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

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

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

Wake the fuck up.


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

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

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

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

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

John Redwood should show his readers some respect

Mirror – Fury as Vulcan attacks: Tory MP John Redwood launched a vicious attack on the parents of Madeleine McCann yesterday. He said Kate and Gerry were more interested in spinning to the media than finding their daughter. And he asked where was the evidence to back the abduction claim.

Daily Mail – Gerry McCann: ‘Kate and I are 100% confident in each other’s innocence’: Senior Tory John Redwood made an extraordinary intervention in the Madeleine case yesterday. The former cabinet minister said on his blog that Gerry and Kate McCann had fallen victim to the “modern disease of fighting battles through the media instead of people getting on and doing their jobs diligently”. He added: “Maybe the McCanns should employ a private detective rather than a spin doctor, to find evidence of the abduction they are sure happened and the trail to her present whereabouts.” Last night Mr Redwood said he bore no ill will towards the couple. “I didn’t mean to be hurtful. I was trying to be helpful.”

Mirror – Vulcan ditches Net slur: John Redwood was forced to back down last night after he launched a vicious attack on the McCann family. Yesterday Mr Redwood removed the offensive passage from his online blog. A spokesman said: “He felt what he was saying was being misrepresented.”

Let me absolutely clear about this; I’m making no comment here on what John Redwood has the right to say about the McCanns, legally or morally. I also happily acknowledge that some of this outrage, at the very least the beginnings of it, could well be the of the faux, fabricated, OTT and/or strategic variety, just as it was in the case of two Labour bloggers I’m about to mention.

The point I want to make here is about accountability, respect, and retromoderation.

When Bob Piper was set upon over a repeat of a ‘racist’ image, he removed the item in question, apologised, and made a note of it on his weblog.

When Tom Watson was copping stick over Sion Simon’s video, he removed the item in question, apologised, and made a note of it on his weblog.

And what has John Redwood done when faced with the same level of unwelcome MSM attention?

He has simply deleted the offending post without explanation or notation.

[Note: that post is still live in Google’s cache, and will probably remain there for a few days.]

I’ve seen quite a few Tories posing as bloggers doing this. Some of them are shameless about it. I’m aware of the curious Tory code (often credited to Benjamin Disraeli and far too often adopted by senior politicians of all parties) that one should “never explain, never apologise”, but often it goes deeper than that; this bad habit of ‘disappearing’ information extends into comments… via a series of deceitful machinations and/or outright deletion, information submitted by readers often disappears into the ether, too.

John’s a beginner, so I’ll patiently explain this to him in case he’s not aware:

When you begin a weblog, you also begin a relationship with those who read and interact with it. To simply delete content without explanation shows a complete lack of regard for this relationship and/or respect for those who take part in it.

Just a short note will do, John… when you’re ready.


[Note: Of course, there’s no mention of any of this on the weblog Tory propaganda machine Iain Dale runs, or on Paul Staines’ site. And, yes, I’ve had to remove a post myself this morning…. I haven’t apologised, but after removing the item in question, I did make a note of it on my weblog.]

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 3 Comments

Foot and mouth confirmed in Surrey… again

BBC – New foot-and-mouth case confirmed: A new case of foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed in Surrey, the government has said. Chief vet Dr Debby Reynolds confirmed the outbreak near Milton Park Farm, near Egham. A 10km control zone has been set up around the site…. The latest outbreak in Surrey comes just days after the government declared the county to be free of foot-and-mouth. The farm is about 10 miles from an animal research site in Pirbright, which was the centre of an outbreak in August. The surveillance zone around the original outbreak was lifted only at midday on Saturday.


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Yet another alternative Tory banner

This one’s by Beau Bo D’Or.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

This may ring a few bells…

Times – Rising Labour star accused of telling voters: my opponent is a paedophile: A Labour councillor who took an “unwinnable” seat from the Liberal Democrats did so by using smear campaign against her opponent, a court has heard… The court heard that Ms Grell told voters that Barry Smith, an incumbent Liberal Democrat councillor, slept with underage Thai boys and was “dirty”. Mr Smith, 56, a high-profile member of the council cabinet who has a long-term, 39-year-old Malaysian partner, lost his seat by 28 votes. He broke down in tears yesterday as he told of the impact that Ms Grell’s alleged lies had on him. Gareth Branston, prosecuting, said that during her election campaign Ms Grell, whose parents came to England from Dominica in 1973, told voters: “Don’t vote for Barry because he’s a paedophile.” She led a “whispering campaign” designed to play on constituents’ “fears and aversion to paedophiles”, he claimed. Ms Grell, who cites Barbara Castle and the suffragettes among her political heroes, is charged under the Representation of the People Act 1983 with four counts of making false statements about another candidate in order to gain an electoral advantage. She denies all the allegations. Paul Williams, for the defence, said that the accusations against her were “some sort of a Liberal Democrat group conspiracy” and that the court case was now being used as “a political weapon” to attack Ms Grell.

My, my, my… so many familiar landmarks.

(heads-up via)

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Police struggle to stop sale of tank at arms fair

Rolling updates right here, for those who have neglected to scroll this fine and sunny afternoon.

Posted in The War on Stupid | Comments Off

“It’s no time for politics”

Check out the dog-whistle content in this ad, currently running in the U.S. (via):

“They attacked us”… which is why we’re in Iraq (oh, and Afghanistan) and shouldn’t “cut and run”.

It’s a good thing we’re above playing politics, isn’t it?

More here and here and here…

Sourcewatch: Freedom’s Watch is a new White House front group of prominent conservatives with a pro-Israel agenda masquerading as a grassroots movement (i.e. astroturf). Formed only two weeks prior, it began a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign on August 22, 2007 “to urge members of Congress who may be wavering in their support for the war in Iraq not to ‘cut and run’.”

But for the whopper we turn to Think Progress, who have this item on Ari Fleischer (who is the group’s spokesman and a founding board member… and former White House press secretary to President George W. Bush):

Think Progress – Fleischer Ignorant Of The Name Of Wounded Iraq Vet Featured In His TV Ad: On MSNBC’s Hardball tonight, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who is leading a White House front group to defend Bush’s escalation, was unable to name the wounded Iraq veteran featured in his organization’s pro-war ad. “I don’t have his name in front of me,” said Fleischer when asked by host Mike Barnicle if he knew the soldier’s name.

I wonder if/when John Kriesel will realise that he’s being used as cannon fodder all over again.

(You can see all four videos here or here.)

UPDATE – Some related linkage for you:

Infowars – Pro War Ads Falsely Link 9/11 To Iraq
CounterPunch – Watching Freedom’s Watch

Posted in The War on Stupid | 4 Comments

Schillings go a-shushing

Craig Murray – Usmanov Bluster: Usmanov’s lawyers are now blustering that the coverage of Usmanov in Murder in Samarkand is libellous. Given that he has such hyperactive lawyers, is it not strange that the book has been out for over a year, but they have made no move to sue for libel?

Well, there’s a potential defence, right there… should it ever go to court.

Moving on to the relevant Times article:

Times – Arsenal tycoon fury at web ‘smears’: Last week, Usmanov’s lawyers were forced to write to the internet service provider which hosts Murray’s website demanding that it take down a posting referring to Usmanov’s business and personal life. In a letter his lawyers said: “Murray clearly has an axe to grind. [He] has made a number of grossly defamatory and completely unsubstantiated allegations about our client in his book Murder in Samarkand and on his website.

Heh. It’s always fun to watch people crying ‘smear’ play the man and not the ball, isn’t it?

Septicisle – Anyone got a Schilling update: Schillings have finally this afternoon deigned to reply to my two messages sent on Thursday evening. They requested that I remove their “copyrighted” letter…

Copyrighted? Ahahahahahahahahahaha!

They’ll be after the Times next for daring to quote from one of their original works.

Dare I suggest that Schillings are rather reluctant to have their threats made public because they are somehow flawed and/or difficult to recycle?

(Let’s just quietly leave to one side the fact that copyright is normally understood to apply to – *ahem* – your more creative works. One would expect a letter of this type to rely more on fact and data, not imagination.)

Posted in Teh Interwebs | 4 Comments