Tories fail to make expected gains in Ealing Southall and Sedgefield

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Continue reading








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 6 Comments

Pfft!

Ben Marshall – Bong! And here are my views: Doughty Street has a distinct liberal left bias…

You what?!

Justin and Bob are equally perplexed. I know it’s the day for cannabis-related confessions, but this is a hell of a way to come out….








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 2 Comments

Let’s catch ourselves a rumour-monger

Iain and his Tory cheats chums can wait for a moment… I have a little project for any bloggers who wish to take part.

At what I estimate to be 7:40pm last night, a recent member of the sikhsangat.com forums (‘kizmat’, who joined on 10 July 07) posted to those forums a none-too-subtle just-wondering-out-loud rumour that an Independent candidate in Ealing Southall had committed suicide.

The OTT l33t-speak (voice of da yoof, innit) suggests a troll at work, but I’m waiting for my registration to go through before I poke into the origins any more.

For now, you need to know that someone is currently busying themselves going from blog to blog bouncing off the above and posting the following message anonymously:

Story emerging (www.sikhsangat.com) that someone called Mr Rai has committed suicide. If this is Dr Rai one of the candidates, do the rules allow the election to carry on in Ealing Southall.

So far, I’ve spotted this posted anonymously as a comment on several weblogs (1, 2, 3) and the same message has been submitted (I would guess fraudulently) under the name ‘Anil Sharma’ over at Ministry of Truth and Pickled Politics.

If one of these comments has been posted to your weblog and you have the capacity to single it out and produce the IP address used to post it, then please do get in touch.

It’s polling day, and we appear to have a trouble-maker on the loose.

UPDATE – Worth adding is this from Unity; “My view on this is that (Anil Sharma) is on the level but a bit gullible in swallowing that L33t post on SikhSangat”

Yes, this is entirely possible. It was the sheer effort that went into it that made me suspect deliberate propagation. I hope to have a clearer picture as the IP data rolls in.

UPDATE – The Yahoo address used by the person posting this and other information under the name ‘Anil Sharma’ bounces with the message that the account does not exist. The pattern of comments also suggests that our helpful contributor is targeting weblogs that have covered the Sikh politics angle during this campaign. I now have enough to go to the relevant ISP with an abuse report, and I’ll also be looking closer at the origins of the rumour.

UPDATE (11am) – The relevant post at sikhsangat.com has been removed.

UPDATE (1pm) – A report has been sent to the relevant ISP and the Electoral Commission. I’ll let you know how I get on. Still waiting for sikhsangat.com registration to go through…

UPDATE (20 July) – What happens from here is now a matter for the police. Thanks to everyone for their input.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 2 Comments

Ealing Southall by-election not-in-any-way-a-scandal

The Tories appear to have been caught breaking electoral law in Ealing Southall.

That well-known Conservative propagandist political commentator Iain Dale is going to be out of action for most of the evening and perhaps even some of the morning for reasons that may amuse some people, so here’s a rare chance for Teh Little Bloggers to ‘scoop’ Dale by being the first to publish the official spin on their expert opinion on this affair.

Here’s my effort:

ULTRA-MULTI-EXCLUSIVE! Last minute stunt by Lib-Labs falls flat on its face

Tories allegedly breaching suggested electoral guidelines?

This just didn’t seem possible to me, so I went straight to the source and pressed Tory HQ for answers. I can now reveal in a statement that’s EXCLUSIVE to this weblog that Grant Shapps suspects that an unknown Labour or Liberal Democrat activist (most likely the partisan scumbag and pretend-blogger Tom Watson) has somehow posed as an unnamed Tory source thereby defrauding Telegraph reporter Jonathan Isaby…. which is AGAINST THE LAW!!!

This just didn’t seem possible to me, so I went straight to the source and pressed Jonathan Isaby for answers. I can now reveal in a statement that’s EXCLUSIVE to this weblog that Jonathan Isaby suspects that an unknown Labour or Liberal Democrat activist (most likely the partisan scumbag and pretend-blogger Tom Watson) has somehow hacked the Telegraph’s weblog via the ingenious method of guessing the username and password (‘jamesbond’ and ‘007’)…. which is AGAINST THE LAW!!!

This just didn’t seem possible to me, so I went straight to the pixies at the bottom of my garden and pressed them for answers…

Award-worthy… wouldn’t you say?

(You wouldn’t? Well, tough. I’m writing The Official One and Only Book Of Funniest People tomorrow and I’m only settling for 2nd place because I’m so damn modest.)

UPDATE – BBC – Police begin Southall vote probe: An investigation has been launched after a complaint from the Labour Party about alleged electoral offences in the Ealing Southall by-election. It relates to a Daily Telegraph website blog entry which claimed to show how many postal votes each candidate had won ahead of Thursday’s ballot. The Telegraph Media Group said this was removed as soon as it was pointed out that it could breach electoral law. The Metropolitan Police said the matter is being “thoroughly investigated”. The article on the Daily Telegraph website quoted “a source inside the Tory campaign”. However, a spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “Our agent in Ealing Southall hasn’t published any such information or spoken to the Daily Telegraph.”

Of course, only the churlish would treat that denial with contempt (by, say, scrutinising its rather specific nature)… so let’s allow it to scamper free and unfettered for a few hours.

UPDATE (19 July) – Ahahahahahaha! Again, I demand some form of prize. It turns out the BBC cut the above quote short;

Guardian – Police investigate alleged Ealing byelection leak: A Conservative spokesman said: “We haven’t seen this blog so it’s difficult to comment. The fact that the blog has now been removed speaks for itself. Our agent in Ealing Southall hasn’t published any such information or spoken to the Daily Telegraph. We suspect that this is mischief making by our opponents.”

There’s your ball… all that remains is for Dale to run with it.

Oh, and the specific nature of that denial? I’m assured by insiders that each party is allowed two representatives at the postal vote openings in a by-election, and this denial relates specifically to the party agent. It is also possible that the party agent or their fellow team member present at the openings related the data to a third party who then contacted the Telegraph. It is even possible that the data is entirely made-up (still against the law in this context). This denial means very little, and even less if it comes from Grant Shapps.

UPDATE (12pm) – Tut. Iain’s leaving town leaving no more than a sniffy comment behind. There goes my propaganda-disguised-as-comment trifecta.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 3 Comments

‘Happy Families’ according to the Daily Mail

I don’t have time to write much today… so I guess it’s a good thing that this renders me speechless.

UPDATE – Some excellent analysis from the ever-reliable Septicisle.








Posted in Tolerance | 4 Comments

SOCPA: The Movie

Kinda busy today… but who would like to go to the movies with me on Sunday?

UPDATE (16 July) – SOCPA: The Movie (brand-new trailer here) is awesome. I knew rikki was dedicated, but I had no idea he was this talented. Congrats on an excellent, excellent movie.

PS – To that girl in tears during the Q&A; I hear you, babe…








Posted in The War on Stupid | 1 Comment

And now for something completely relevant

While we’re waiting, here’s a special treat for ‘N’ of Southall, who appears to want to take this to the wire

Our mystery webmaster should be reminded at this stage that they still maintain some level of control over their credibility and that – until midday – they still have several options open to them; the primary ones being to come clean or to cut and run… BUT he/she should be warned that if they choose the latter option, there is a very good chance that someone other than me will decide to go poking around anyway.

UPDATE (11:40am) – Our mystery webmaster has included the following in very small text on the ‘contact’ page of both websites; “This website is maintained by a Labour party member resident in the borough. The site is unofficial, and the Labour supporter is not a muppet of either the local or national party.”

I don’t think it’s prominent enough, myself:

a) I think it should at least be on every page
b) but at least it’s there somewhere
c) and his/her tone is really pissing me off, so…

What kind of mood will I be in at midday? Tune in and find out!

UPDATE (12:00pm) – Ding! Well, as noted above, there’s now a teeny-tiny message on one page of both websites… but I’m not sure that’s quite enough. There is also no indication on either site that the author just happens to be equally outraged with both opposition parties in her constituency. So I’m going to start poking around while I make up my mind about how much I’m going to reveal…

UPDATE (12:11pm) – Oh, this is far too easy! I’m almost wishing our mystery webmaster didn’t get in touch last night revealing her first name, now… it’s sucked most of the fun out of it! Tell you what, just to be sporting (and perhaps milk this a bit) I’ll stop and eat lunch first.

UPDATE (12:19pm) – Oh, did I mention that I already have her first name, last name, a photo and compelling evidence showing that these two websites are her work? (Just so she knows this, I’ve dropped her a line at her work* address. Time to eat.)

UPDATE (12:39pm) – Mmmmmm… Mediterranean style vegetable quiche….

UPDATE (12:55pm) [burp] – *This should be clarified; our mystery webmaster appears to have a job and a consultancy interest; I emailed her via the latter. I’ll let TISM finish this entry.

UPDATE (1:05pm) – Our mystery webmaster can be seen somewhere in this photo. The notes from this meeting suggest that she has an interest in getting young people to participate in politics, so I’m hoping that she’ll understand the importance of transparency and trust… at least enough to put her teeny-tiny declaration on every page of both sites.

UPDATE (1:48pm) – Tut. Either she doesn’t care about being outed, or she doesn’t think I hit girls with e-sticks. I can’t see it being the former, or she would have been a little more generous with her (eventual) transparency. Hey, maybe (prepare your ‘1234’ gullibility hat) all of her email and internets are down for the day or something…

UPDATE (2:30pm) – This is a tricky situation… slim as the possibility is, it *is* possible that she’s not able to communicate or update at the moment. (Of course, if I find out it’s because she’s been handing out Labour leaflets all day, I shall be very upset indeed.) Because an outing can’t be undone, and because her first name alone can lead even an amateur right to her, she earns a few hours of grace.

UPDATE (3:33pm) – Oh dear… a development. I’m ready to stand corrected, but I’m looking at something right now that suggests that our mystery webmaster hasn’t been entirely honest with Labour supporters, either.

(reaches for stick)

UPDATE (13 July) – Declaration is now on every page on both sites. I’m content. Matter closed.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 11 Comments

Sock-puppeting madness *already* waaaay out of control

Well, will you look at that? We’re already at a stage where it’s out of control:

Lib Dem councillor denies tactical vote slur: So, once again, someone has decided to impersonate a Lib Dem in an attempt to belittle the party’s chances in the Ealing by-election, and big-up the Tories’… However, this one is more serious, as it was not simply a question of impersonating an anonymous activist – this was an attempt to suggest a named Lib Dem councillor was openly backing a Tory opponent, with all the potential embarrassment that could cause Cllr Chohan.

Tch. Now it looks like the law has to get involved. Even those who approve of such shenanigans (or are wearily tolerant of them) should know that this is a step too far.

I look forward to many an outraged entry at a range of Tory weblogs, starting with Iain’s.

(waits)

[Psst! There’s more to come… even if midday passes without an outing.]








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Result!

Within a week, the Sun sees sense.

(Psst! By sheer coincidence an email came in about 30 seconds after my previous post that has me hoping that this won’t be the last quick result today.)








Posted in Photoshopping | Comments Off

1-2-3-4, I declare an ID war

Bear with me here… I’m not posing as an ideal, I just want to show you what we’re dealing with. You’ll know what I mean when we reach the Important Bit:

My name’s Tim Ireland. I also post under my first name ‘Tim’ and/or the nickname ‘Manic’. During the research phase of the recent Bit Of Necessary I initially engaged with users and abusers of multiple identities on their own terms before returning to blogging and posting under ‘Guido 2.0′ for a time. Finally, on some sites (usually large/busy ones and/or those that do not allow profile links), I go with the username ‘bloggerheads’, as this makes the source of any information/opinion I provide easier to identify or find.

But… what all of these labels have in common is a single and verifiable online identity that comes back to one location; bloggerheads.com

(It also needs to be noted that all of the above can be managed and maintained without purchasing a domain or revealing your real name. It does not require, as some habitual users of multiple identities would have you think, the introduction of compulsory ID cards, genetic profiling, or personal barcode tattoos.)

At this website, it is explained quite clearly who I am and what connections I have to other politically-oriented groups or individuals. Further, if there is any external political material that I’m in any way associated with, I put my name on it and I specify the nature of my role.

Important Bit: Sadly, this does not stop some people from screaming until they’re blue in the face that I’m hiding my identity and/or a range of political associations.

(In the past, I have been accused of being secretly associated with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and even the Conservatives. Generally, and most amusingly, the people who make these accusations are themselves hiding their own identity and/or political associations.)

But you can rest assured that things could be far, far worse…

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve expressed concern about sock-puppeting and astro-turfing…

For the n00bs:

Sock-puppet = A false (and typically fleeting/disposal) online identity

Sock-puppeting = The use of single or multiple false identities

Astro-turfing = A small number of people using many sock-puppets to create the illusion of a grass-roots movement

… and I have, throughout, issued a warning that if we don’t reign this in soon, we are going to be neck-deep in effluent by the time the next general election comes around.

The two by-elections in Ealing Southall and Sedgefield provide us with a timely warning… and a bit of a watershed moment, IMO.

Yesterday, it was revealed that Grant Shapps – the head not just of the Ealing Southall campaign but for Conservative campaigning in general – was reduced to personally sock-puppeting the opposition on YouTube.

1. That he did it was pathetic enough.

2. But he messed it up royally, which made it hilariously pathetic.

3. He then provided an excuse that was (a) predicted and (b) unbelievably pathetic.

4. Finally, he somehow convinced or compelled political commentator campaigner Iain Dale to shovel his shit to the masses with a great big heap of sugar on top. Which was… well, words fail me, to be honest.

Suffice it to say that I’m sure that there were quite a few bloggers who may not have listened at all to my concerns about certain right-wing bloggers (and an uncertain number of sock-puppeteers) in the past, but see Iain Dale in an entirely different light today.

Take a look at the related comments thread yourself. With the exception of two individuals who have a tight relationship with Iain Dale, there isn’t a single person with a semi-verifiable identity who’s even entertaining the notion of buying the ‘1234’ story.

Another Important Bit: It’s also worth noting in light of the theme of this post that one of the two individuals mentioned here – Praguetory – declares it implausible that the Tory campaign leader would do such a thing but then states – without a shred of evidence – that it is entirely likely that the Labour campaign leader would. Praguetory is also fond of repeatedly claiming – again, without a shred of evidence – that any criticism posted anonymously to a Tory blog is the sock-puppeting work of that same Labour campaign leader (Tom Watson) or myself… or perhaps both of us in unison when we’re not having rude bumsexual fun together. Of course, this is only likely to influence people in circumstances where Praguetory has the time/resources and the supporting environment necessary to repeat this claim under a number of different guises, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

While the Shapps matter was the main talking point amongst bloggers, I spotted a number of obvious sock-puppeteers throwing in red herrings and offering support for Shapps that ranged from “So the guy made a mistake. Big deal.” (translation; “It’s not a conspiracy!”) to “The Lib Dems hacked his account!” (translation; “It *is* a conspiracy!”) and Mark Pack even appears to have caught and named one in action under the main Shapps thread.

You may use the words ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’… me, I’d use the word ‘casual’… and that’s the aspect of this that worries me most.

But there’s more…

At the same time that the use of (and excuses for) sock-puppets cost Shapps and Dale so much credibility, someone thought it a good idea to press ahead with two anonymous websites attacking the dishonest practices (!) of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems in Ealing Southall; conwatch-ealing.com and libfibs.co.uk

They’re obviously the work of the same person; both use the same design template (which includes some very clumsy attempts to ‘play’ search engines), both provide the same contact email address – randomite@hotmail.co.uk – and, crucially, both stemmed from this Blogger profile which clearly shows the mysterious blank spot that would lead most sensible people to suspect that this *might* just be the work not of an everyday citizen, but of a Labour activist (be they authorised or otherwise).

Randomite's Blogger profile

If there’s any lingering doubt, we also have the initial link support for these two blogs, which comes to us via a known Labour supporter.

So now we have two sites claiming to be ‘watchdog’ sites that are, in fact, propaganda machines that are the work of an opposing party or an activist/supporter of that party… but there is no formal/obvious indication on either of them that they are in any way linked, and absolutely no statement on either of them regarding the identity, intentions or affiliations of the author(s).

This, in my expert opinion, is a really fucking stupid and downright selfish act.

What possible good do they expect to come of an exercise that ensures the typical web-user’s experience of the Ealing Southall by-election is reduced to a shouting match where the majority of visible contributors are (a) anonymous and (b) shouting “Sock-puppet!” at each other?

We already have known bloggers crossing swords, but because they’re known (even if only by nickname) in such cases they have clearly stated affiliations (or at the very least a track record of not being 100% honest about them) that provide us with vital context. There’s also the possibility that even sworn enemies will remain civil (to a point) because they know they have to get on with life after this by-election is over.

But – if you’ll pardon the rather confused metaphor – when everybody starts playing with sock-puppets, the gloves come off far too often.

The resulting bitchfights feature a varying number of casualties, but always damage the health, development and reputation of politics and weblogs in general.

The by-election demands a tight deadline, so I’m giving the author(s) of these particular sites until tomorrow afternoon (12 July) to either delete the sites or have the limited integrity required to belatedly declare an interest and/or stake their reputation on them.

This is not a command from the absolute ruler of the blogosphere, and neither is an attack on any ‘right to free speech’ that some people lay claim to when they are in fact compromising the rights of others to speak freely and be heard.

This is a polite warning from one blogger who has seen this go too far too often.

This is a polite warning from one blogger who will be doing everything he can to find the author(s) of these sock-puppeting efforts if the sites are still in an operational or anonymous state from midday tomorrow.

Liberal, Labour, Tory… I don’t care who’s doing it; the political blogosphere is getting busier, the stakes are getting higher and the time for tolerating sock-puppets is over.

UPDATE (12 July) – It’s midday! Rolling updates can be found here.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 4 Comments