Expenses: fancy a little data entry?

The delightful Ms Humphrey Cushion spotted some fresh expenses data released on July 8, 2010. There’s no master page for it that I can find, sorry, but if you visit this page and click on most MP’s names, it should appear as ‘Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure 2009-10′

It’s easy to be thrown off by the title of the release (and the date it was released) but these are the accommodation-related claims for April, May and June 2009… i.e. these forms and claims were submitted as the expenses scandal unfolded last summer. I’ve only browsed through a small percentage of the data myself, but I’m already seeing a clear pattern of MPs backing off on expenses claims and/or stopping entirely during this period, and it’s fascinating.

A few of us Twittery bods have taken it upon ourselves to organise this data into a spreadsheet before the Guardian/Telegraph (and/or in greater detail), and if you have any spreadsheet experience (it doesn’t take much) then I invite you to join us. Instructions follow:

1 – Email me for an invite to access the spreadsheet on Google Docs: [bloggerheads DOT com AT gmail DOT com]

2 – Pick a set of MPs no-one else is working on (they are arranged alphabetically and grouped by first letter of surname; it is easy to spot areas where people are working as completed rows are coloured yellow)

3 – Starting here, click on your chosen letter/group. then click on each MP’s name in turn, and see if there’s an entry for ‘Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure 2009-10′, and…

(a) If there isn’t, or if the only form is one of these, then just put ‘N’ in the column marked ‘Did they file claim(s) for 2009/10 (Y/N)’, then enter your name under ‘Data input by’, then colour the row yellow, and move on to the next MP. (Psst! Don’t forget to fill in the column telling us who entered this data!)

(b) If there is, but it looks like the forms have been filled in with crayon by an idiot, then move on to the next MP and try again, or give up entirely knowing you just don’t have the patience for this

(c) If there is, then take note of the date on the main form(s), labelled ‘PAAE 2′ in the top right hand corner (ignore the stamped date; you want the date range listed in ‘Claim details’ right under the MP’s name) and just enter the relevant numbers in the correct columns (‘Mortgage Interest’, ‘Rent’, ‘Gas’, ‘Electricity’, etc.), do this for each month (i.e. 04/09, 05/09 and/or 06/09 where applicable) then colour the row yellow when you’ve entered all visible/relevant data, and move on to the next MP.

(We’ve been adding columns where new claim types emerge, but if you are in any doubt just stop work on that row and move on (i.e. leaving it coloured white). The same applies if you’re in doubt about things like multiple forms for single months, forms in the wrong order, random scans of bills that have no relevance to the figures quoted in the main form(s), etc. etc. etc.)

I won’t pretend to have time to handle more than a dozen entries myself today, but if enough people chip in, we can get this done in good time and release the itemised/organised data for wider analysis this week.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 2 Comments

GayTV: Richard Desmond loves cock (for cash)

Front pages reach an audience beyond a newspaper’s readership, and every editor knows this.

Therefore, the impact of this stunning bigotry and ignorance should not be underestimated and certainly shouldn’t be ignored:

bigotry

Daily Express – NOW ASYLUM IF YOU’RE GAY: Asylum claims could soar after judges upheld appeals by two gay men who were to be deported. The men, from Iran and Cameroon, had been refused asylum by the Appeal Court under Labour on the grounds that they could avoid ill-treatment by hiding their sexuality or behaving discreetly. But the Supreme Court overturned their deportation yesterday. The cases will now be reconsidered. Campaigners last night warned it could mean millions might try to claim they are gay to qualify for asylum in Britain. Supreme Court judge Lord Rodger said gay people’s right to live freely must be protected. He said: “Just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically-coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates.”

Acknowledging that the ‘Kylie and cocktails’ text paraphrases a judge who appears to have educated himself by watching witless sitcoms, questions should be asked about the suitability of this front page, and how it portrays both homosexuals and asylum seekers.

There’s also a wealth of what-the-fuckery to be had in exploring the comments of Conservative MP Philip Davies and MigrationFearUK chairman Sir Andrew Green, but for now let’s stick to this front page and see what it tells us about Richard Desmond, the hands-on owner of this newspaper, who also happens to be a pornographer.

While repeatedly using male homosexuals to stir up feelings of fear and outrage that sell the Daily Expresstabloid rag to an audience of bigots, Richard Desmond also sells pornography aimed specifically at… male homosexuals.

Richard Desmond owns a number of pornographic TV channels. In fact, in what many suspect was a back-room deal aided by Tony Blair, Desmond was the first pornographer to cash in on the ‘Freeview’ market.

Among those pornographic channels owned by Desmond is GayTV, a channel dedicated (one assumes) to watching Kylie’s music videos and catching up on the latest COCKtail* recipes:

hypocrisy

(*Did you see what I did there? Who’s a clever boy?)

And just so the ladies don’t feel left out… I’d like to point out that lesbians are well-represented on Desmond’s series of TelevisionX (and RedHot) channels:

pornography

Just kidding. The red hot lesbian action you’re likely to see on a Desmond porn channel is probably faked for a male audience… which brings us back to the comments of Conservative MP Philip Davies:

Daily Express – NOW ASYLUM IF YOU’RE GAY :Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “It’s a dangerous game to play to go down this line because it’s quite feasible that this could offer an ideal line of defence for someone who wants to try to avoid being kicked out of the country, whether it is true or not that they are gay. By its very nature, it’s very difficult to prove one way or another. My concern would be that this may well be exploited by some people as a way of avoiding deportation.”

What does Philip Davies think about the dangers of people who fake being a lesbian for the benefit of a cash-paying audience? Isn’t he outraged or maybe even just a little bit concerned about this obvious fraud?

(Here Philip Davies may point out that faking lesbianism on a hardcore sex channel isn’t quite as easy/straightforward as cutting your hair short and wearing comfortable shoes, and I look forward to that debate.)

Finally, bringing us back to the central point, what does Philip Davies think about the way Desmond exploits two distinct audiences in pursuit of profit, lying to at least one of them about his core beliefs re: homosexuality in the process? Admittedly (ahem) by its very nature, it’s very difficult to prove one way or another… but Desmond can’t have it both ways**.

(**Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

[Psst! It is widely reported by many unhappy consumers that RHF Productions Ltd, house of porn and part of Desmond’s Northern and Shell empire, dances right on the edges of consumer protection laws, if not all over and back and forth across them. So even if you’re stupid enough to buy gay porn from a man like Desmond, you may want to think twice about what it could cost you in cash terms.]








Posted in Old Media | 2 Comments

Wrigley’s gum – the clean fresh taste of [insert your name here]

I was slumming it in the YouTubes recently when I happened across a 1986 ad for Wrigley’s chewing gum that seemed very familiar and yet entirely different. The following collection of clips should explain my confuzzlement:

Wrigley’s gum – the clean fresh taste of…

Yes, as you can see, Wrigley recycled the same “Taste of America” ad to produce some regional flavours for Australia and New Zealand. Some shots have been re-used, others replaced, but what’s also worth a look is the effort that went into re-shooting/replicating some shots to localise the image while keeping the ad’s ‘formula’ intact (e.g. the high-fiving pilots, the girl who misses her taxi, and the juggler with zinc cream on his nose); even the two ‘man releasing native bird’ shots match. The producers did let the side down by not forcing that little girl to fly two different flags, but still, it’s pretty impressive overall.

I’m sure most of you are aware that this happens (UK and Australian TV both feature many US-made commercials with badly-dubbed local voices) and you probably won’t even be upset with the duplicity of the concept, but I am genuinely pissed off that I was robbed of my opportunity to enjoy Great Hair Guy; the fella who’s deliriously happy at how good he looks.

Apart from the poor lady who misses her taxi, pretty much everyone else waving their arms about is celebrating an achievement, which makes Great Hair Guy even more hilarious to me;

“Hard deck my ass. We nailed that son of a bitch!” (high five)
“We got the Glickman contract!” (air punch)
“We totally won at baseball/basketball/etc.” (manly hugs)
“How’s my hair looking? My hair’s looking GREAT!” (fist pump)

Wrigley ad (1986) - Great Hair Guy

Here’s to you, Great Hair Guy. You rock.

(Apologies if this mockery is 20-odd years later than expected.)








Posted in Consume! | 1 Comment

Operation ‘Cloaca’

[Please note that this post contains uncensored profanity.]

Cloaca (x 2)I would like you to consider choosing (and using) the word ‘cloaca’ ahead/instead of ‘cunt’ in your written communications on the internets and in the Twitters.

I will begin by outlining the deficiencies of ‘cunt’ as a useful word in mainstream discussion, and then go on to point out the qualities of ‘cloaca’ that make it a worthy replacement. Please bear with me through a few swears:

Why/when the word ‘cunt’ is often needlessly offensive

I have an anus that follows me everywhere and there’s no question about my being attached to it, but use of the word ‘arsehole’ as abuse does not offend me as an anus-owner, as it should not offend you.

I personally don’t feel violated in any way when people use ‘prick’, ‘cock’ or ‘dick’ as a form of abuse, even though I own a penis and am quite fond of it. I can see how a woman using one of those terms to attack me purely on the basis of my gender might offend me, but it would be foolish to read this into every use.

Therefore, even though I don’t own one, I have in the past deemed it appropriate to describe another person as a ‘cunt’ (and not in a nice way).

However, I think there is an inequality at work here that unfairly places ‘cunt’ at the top of the anatomy-based abuse index:

– cunt
– arsehole
– cock, prick, dick, etc.

In this sense, ‘cunt’ is potentially offensive to all women. Not through the general use of the word, even as most forms of abuse, but through its placement at the top of the body-part chart. Should a word for female genitalia really be the most offensive thing you can call someone?

Obviously, if your intention is to abuse/offend as many people as possible, ‘cunt’ can get you halfway home without difficulty, but if your intention is to abuse only one person (or a small group) where is the justice in any potential/widespread collateral damage just by using the wrong word?

I’m sure we can better progress as a species without this kind of inequality, and I would like you to consider using the word ‘cloaca’ in place of ‘cunt’ as part of your recommended daily allowance of abuse.

If you still have trouble understanding/appreciating why you should do this, ask yourself who really wins when you call a notorious woman-hater like Richard Littlejohn a ‘cunt*’.

[*Poetry Corner: A lot of people have said it; yes, including me. But it was said well and said best when said by Stewart Lee.]

Why ‘cloaca’ is a worthy replacement

Richard Littlejohn is also your path to understanding why ‘cloaca’ is my chosen replacement:

In zoological anatomy, a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts of certain animal species. The word comes from Latin, and means sewer. All birds, reptiles, and amphibians possess this orifice, from which they excrete both urine and faeces, unlike placental mammals, which possess two separate orifices for evacuation. (source)

See? Like Richard Littlejohn, a cloaca is a cunt, and an arsehole, and a pisshole (and sometimes even more)… all at the same time!

To my mind, there is no question about its rightful place at the top of the chart:

– cloaca
– cunt
– arsehole
– cock, prick, dick, etc.

There are other benefits, too:

a) Even if cloaca-owning critters could read, there would be no risk of offence; the decision to favour a multi-purpose orifice is entirely logical and does not unfairly single out or denigrate birds, reptiles, amphibians or monotremes. Plus, it should be pointed out that (some) humans have cloacas, too.

b) ‘Cloaca’ is not a widely-known word, and there is often a goatse-like aspect to its use that should delight the enlightened communicator. For example; if this word were directly neatly at the right target** they might never look at eggs in quite the same way again. Any bystanders to the conversation may also be educated about biology to some extent as a result – and left in no question about your meaning and/or the depth of your feeling – but, importantly, they will not be personally offended or wounded on a gender/inequality level.

[**Vegans may wish to avoid its use as abuse when confronting omnivores, as this may be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to spoil their breakfast(s).]

c) ‘Cloaca’ will sail through most swear filters and pass most ‘SFW’ tests. Unless you drag a chicken into the office and wave it in the boss’s face to make your point, in which case you’re on your own.

d) The latin origins of ‘cloaca’ couldn’t be more perfect for its intended use on the internets; we have enough shit to deal with, and every fresh outlet of pure sewage is to be discouraged.

Now, we’ve had some laughs, but I am serious about this, and to show my dedication to this proposal and further spread the gospel, I have decided to make Richard Littlejohn some if not many of the top/main search results for ‘cloaca’ in Google Images***. (I am hoping that people will instinctively pick up on my point, or eventually come to see things my way.)

[***Trivia: In Google, there are 90,000 searches/month globally for ‘cloaca’… and only 12,000 searches/month for ‘richard littlejohn’]

In summary: using ‘cloaca’ in place of ‘cunt’

It really is very simple; I would like you to buck the trend and sacrifice an extra letter [two extra letters. duh.] the next time you’re tempted to call someone a ‘cunt’, and use ‘cloaca’ instead.

Linking to this post from time to time (or using the http://bit.ly/Cloaca link or the #cloaca hashtag in Twitter) will reassure your followers that it’s a brave stand for equality, and nothing against their budgie.

Cheers all.

[Psst! If you’re a media-watch blogger and have a strong view and some relevant evidence about Richard Littlejohn that you’d like to share, you can help with the Google Images malarkey. Just drop me a line in the Twitters and I’ll clue you in.]








Posted in Old Media, Teh Interwebs | 3 Comments

Jeremy Hunt: when only the freshest information will do

[MINI-UPDATE (Sep 01) – Please scroll down for an important update. Jeremy Hunt has, as predicted, deleted his apology and every comment made in response, as if it never happened.]

Jeremy Hunt has recently suggested that hooliganism caused the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died, then apologised “IF his comments caused any offence” (which many regard to be a more offensive gesture than his original remarks). There are, at the time of writing, 150 comments published under the short apology on his website.

But the people leaving comments on Jeremy Hunt’s ‘blog’ deserve to be warned that Jeremy’s apology is scheduled for deletion (probably within a month) along with any comment(s) they contribute.

No, I am not extrapolating wildly from Jeremy Hunt’s recent mass deletion of tweets; I have interviewed Jeremy Hunt about this matter specifically, and it is his stated policy that only “fresh” information be displayed on his ‘blog’.

In roughly 30+ days, Hunt’s apology will be removed, and every published comment submitted in response will be removed, too… and while this Portcullis-headed website may not be funded from Parliamentary Allowances and Hunt is free to conduct himself within the law on his own property:

1) It strikes me as a wee bit disrespectful (to the extent that it further undermines this apology)

2) I would question the integrity of a man who demands transparency from the BBC (for example) while systematically erasing his archives

I’m also of a mind to preserve this data, regardless of what Jeremy Hunt may think about its importance.

Below is a copy of Jeremy Hunt’s ‘Hillsborough’ apology, plus all of the comments published under it. This post will be updated frequently, acting as a mirror of the original post (until that entry is removed from Jeremy Hunt’s site, when it go on to act as an the archive, and will be formatted for easier reading once all the copying and pasting is behind us).

Continue reading








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

Did Nokia let Jemma Lyon take the fall?

Telegraph – Nokia in plagiarism row after ‘short film award winner disqualified for cheating’Nokia, the mobile phone company, has been forced to disqualify the winner of a British film prize after an investigation found her entry was a direct copy of an earlier work. The technology giant had awarded its Critic’s Award prize in its MiniMo competition to Jemma Lyon for “Forrest Chump”… a lo-fi retelling of the 1994 blockbuster Hollywood film, starring Tom Hanks. It was shot in one take on a mobile phone. But after winning the award earlier this month, the Liverpool John Moores University student faced claims that she had plagiarised her entry from a film called “Forrest Gump in one minute, in one take”.

Hi gang. I’d like to begin, if I may, with a comment posted to the nokiaminimo.com blog on 19 June that Nokia published, but did not answer (source):

Nokia minimo comment #1

Further comments by Will Tribble (the creator of the original film) were also published, but left unanswered. Here’s one example (source):

Nokia minimo comment #2

When Nokia finally did answer in Twitter, they certainly didn’t give any indication that they intended to do anything about it (source #1, source #2):

Nokia minimo tweets

In fact, it wasn’t until after there was a sizeable public outcry that Nokia did anything at all, and for over 24 hours now they have been refusing to discuss the point already acknowledged by MOFILM; “this issue should have been dealt with as soon as it was flagged however it was not”

And I think I might know why.

Here is a further comment that Nokia have published on their blog, but not answered (source):

Nokia minimo comment #3

The circumstances ‘Tina’ describes do not strike me as odd or extraordinary for the following reasons:

– 1. With all due respect to the filmmakers involved, I do not think Nokia were getting the best out of the filmmaking talent that’s available in this country, and I invite you to browse the ‘leaderboard’ to judge this for yourself (if you have the patience).

– 2. Nokia themselves documented two instances in which they aided a filmmaker with props and extras.

– 3. Nokia also describe plans for multiple campus visits on their front page; “Watch out for MOFILM:Labs on your campus, our amazing mobile editing suites that could help turn you into the next Spike Jonze.”

Therefore, while it’s possible that this is an unjustified attempt to damage Nokia or favour an entrant in some way, it seems perfectly plausible to me that Nokia* would send a company/competition representative out on campus to help a production along, especially if the concept was stronger/superior to what they already had (and judging by the judge’s decision, it was). Also, Nokia have been evasive to the point of embarrassment about the matter of plagiarism, and I suspect they have something to hide besides incompetence.

So the question I would put to Nokia is this:

Is there any truth to what ‘Tina’ claims; that Jemma Lyon was encouraged if not directed by a representative of Nokia to copy an existing work and pass it off as her own?

If so, then serious questions have to be asked about the manipulation/exploitation of this young woman and the wider betrayal of trust.

Over to you, Nokia peeps. Any comment?

[*I recognise there may be confusion between Nokia reps/staff and people from MOFILM, but MOFILM have a lot more to lose in terms of artistic credibility, seemed genuinely surprised by the discovery of plagiarism, and were nowhere near as evasive as Nokia about it. Therefore, I am putting the question to Nokia in the first instance.]

[Psst! A message for Jemma Lyon: If there’s any truth to what ‘Tina’ says and you have the raw footage, it may establish the truth of the matter, especially if the coaching described took place during the shoot. You may also wish to contact witnesses, ask them about their intentions, and have them independently write down what they recall if they wish to come forward. Remember; the charge of plagiarism is likely to dog you throughout your career if you plan to continue with filmmaking or any creative endeavour. I encourage you to stand up for your rights if you feel you have been treated unfairly, and I guarantee that if it’s a case of Nokia putting you up to this and then letting you take the fall, then you will not have to fight alone.]

UPDATE 24 June – A statement from Nokia appeared last night:

Nokia MiniMo**

Having continued to investigate the original minimo Critics Choice Award, it appears that one of our student team assisted in the making of the video, including offering their Nokia handset to shoot the short film and suggesting that the film was okay to submit to the competition. We are obviously very disappointed to discover that this has happened. While we believe that the original winner did not intentionally break the terms and conditions of the competition, the submission remains disqualified.

I hate to be fussy, but I think “suggesting that the film was okay to submit to the competition” could be clearer. Did one of the ‘student team’ (an employee of Nokia) originally suggest the idea to copy the film? I look forward to further investigation and some clarification.

[**Looks to me like someone had difficulty thinking of a good headline.]

UPDATE (25 June) – I’ve spoken to the communications team at Nokia, and they have promised a further statement within a week. Their position is that they wish to be thorough and discuss this in detail with all parties involved before saying anything further, which seems reasonable. The ‘disconnect’ that caused myself and others concern (i.e. giving the impression that the issue was being ignored or played down from the 19th to the 22nd, leaving Jemma Lyons to be pilloried as the sole party responsible during this period) appears primarily to be the result of an agency being in charge of the campaign weblog, leaving Nokia once-removed from the action, delaying their awareness of specific comments, and greatly complicating if not ruling out any meaningful dialogue on the blog. Speaking from experience (while tutting at Nokia for not being directly involved as they are with their Twitter channel), this explanation for the disconnect seems reasonable to me, and I trust the issue of this communications shortfall and its consequences will be addressed in the upcoming statement.

Until then, I think the most constructive thing I can do is leave you with some reassurance:

The ‘Nokia rep’ involved was NOT a senior (or even full time) staff member, and while this individual may have actively participated in the plagiarism rather than discouraging it in any way, the original idea to use Will Tribble’s concept/script in full doesn’t appear to have been anything more than a mistake by a young student (amplified greatly by circumstance***); for me the primary concern was that people in a position of power appeared to be betraying their trust and ours, and after speaking to Nokia I’m a lot less concerned about that.

[*** There’s one word that applies to how this whole project was run, and that is ‘sloppy’. I trust that this too will be addressed in the upcoming statement.]

UPDATE (01 July) – Nokia have since issued a further statement in response to a comment/statement submitted to their site by Jemma Lyon (a version of which was submitted to this site, but held over while I attempted to confirm her identity). A mirror of these two statements appears below:

To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to make a statement regarding the alleged plagiarism accusations from the Nokia Minimo movie competition.
I was approached by a Nokia representative who asked me to remake any video in under two minutes for his Nokia assignment. I was unaware that this was a competition at the time and did not receive a brief. The representative also promised to give me a mobile phone in exchange for assisting him with his project. I never received the phone. The Nokia representative was present during the filming of my video and after being asked several times if the film was ok to submit he insisted it was and persisted to show the actors the original video to direct them where to stand and what to do. At no point did the representative inform any of the people involved that the film was breaching the terms and conditions and I was led to believe that the entry was valid. Further to this, Nokia became aware that my entry was based on another video three days prior to sending me on the trip to Cannes, but they still sent me on the trip and refused to act until the public outcry. My name has been tarnished by this event. I have been branded a cheater amongst many other things too awful to write and I have yet to be informed of how Nokia aim to rectify this. I aspire to pursue a career in the creative media industry and this libel is a great hindrance to my progress to achieving the career I want. My efforts to expose the truth have been greatly subdued by Nokia and the rule of law seems not to apply to large powerful corporations in certain instances. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that basing my video on Mr Tribble’s creative work was done in ignorance. I was not aware that I was breaking any rules and the Nokia representative never informed me that I was doing so. I previously had no interest in submitting an entry but I was misled into thinking that I was merely helping the Nokia representative, he has since personally apologised to me for the way I have been treated. Nokia has allowed my name to be dragged through the mud by shrouding the situation with half truths and even some out right lies in order to save their own reputation.

Comment by Jemma [Jemma Lyon] — June 25, 2010 @ 10:18 pm (source)

As per our last public statement, we believe that there was no bad intent from the original winner when entering the MiniMo competition. However, in directly copying an existing piece of content and not declaring that the content was not their original work, they broke the terms of entering the competition. This resulted in the entry being disqualified by MoFilm.

We are in touch directly with the disqualified winner as a statement by them contains a number of allegations about Nokia that don’t represent the information that has been provided to us; this is due to the differing accounts given by the winner and the Nokia student team member.

We apologise for the misleading guidance that the winner received from the Nokia student team member when completing the disqualified MiniMo submission. However, it was ultimately the entrants decision to select the content and submit the video and in doing so, accepting the responsibilities of entry.

We feel that we acted in the best interest of the competition and its participants with the information that has been presented to us.

Communication with our student team member shows that he did offer the entrant a Nokia X6 and we will ensure that the phone is delivered as soon as possible.

Comment by Nokia Minimo — June 29, 2010 @ 5:58 pm (source)

Today, Will Tribble (creator of the original Gump-in-a-minute film) offers us a further update that brings us no closer to a conclusion (currently it is the word of Jemma Lyon against that of a still-unnamed casual employee of Nokia) but does share some detail that Nokia will probably want to respond to.

Will Tribble – Nokia MiniMo competition

So, overall Jemma is claiming that this Nokia guy is almost entirely responsible for making the film all she did was film and and stick it into the competition under his directions, and Nokia didn’t send her back from Cannes, they just told MoFilm they had.

1st July:

I’ve just had a phone chat with a guy from Nokia’s PR team (Mark who runs their Twitter), and this was his stance:

– This Nokia rep was a part-time employee from their street team, who specialise in doing Nokia-related things in universities, etc.

– He was present at the filming and lent his phone. He knew that the film was a lot like our one, but said she should enter it anyway. However he had nothing to do with the planning, directing or editing of it.

– Jemma was sent back on the earliest flight it was safe to send her on, on Thursday morning (she was meant to leave on either Friday or Saturday, he couldn’t remember off the top of his head).

So all in all, I’m not sure what happens next and I have no idea who to believe. I don’t know whether Jemma was left to be the fall girl by Nokia or whether there’s been a load of misunderstandings.

My position is very similar to Will’s at present, but I’ll reserve further comment for now.








Posted in Consume! | Comments Off

Einy90: the adventures of Einy Shah, agent of WIN

The Tories almost lost one of their most effective undercover activists last night, in a criminal act of sabotage that many suspect to be an assassination attempt.

Einy Shah (codename Einy90) showed the pluck she is famous for by shrugging off the attack and immediately taking charge of the relevant investigation, resulting in two strong leads (three if we count ‘broken britain’ as a suspect):

Einy90 tweets live from the crime scene

[For security reasons, Einy90 cannot reveal who has ordered her to cease tweeting or blogging at this time, but we do know that she has cleverly bypassed this order by tweeting her thoughts and then later – sometimes immediately – deleting them (a technique pioneered and approved by the new Tory Minister for the Internets, Jeremy Hunt). Our thanks go to HumphreyCushion, who managed to screen-capture what the EinyBot missed.]

While Einy90’s detective skills are second to none, we would like to take this opportunity to launch a public appeal, and present this photo of Einy90’s bicycle before the attack (source) in the hope that it might trigger someone’s memory and/or provide some clue as to who might have attacked it, and why:

Einy90's bicycle, before the attack

Currently, forces that oppose a Conservative government (i.e. the criminal element) are suspected of what may be a random attack, but it is equally likely that Einy Shah has been specifically targeted in order to silence one of Boris Johnson’s top agents.

Her exact role when working in support of London’s mayor is an official secret, but FOI requests have revealed that she is – or perhaps was – paid £8.50 per hour on a casual basis as part of the Peer Outreach Team, leaving her well funded and free to act with autonomy.

Here, we should stress that this may be a clever cover story designed to throw off nosy leftists, bloggers, journalists and other agents of evil, but Einy90 can be heard in action in this recording of a 2009 radio broadcast (skip to 8:30), feeding a planted question to Boris Johnson with the ruthless efficiency she is famous for.

Obviously, with Boris Johnson approving of such techniques on the wireless, it follows that he would be just as willing to allow it to work in his favour on the interwebs, but one should not place too much weight on this assumption or succumb to any knee-jerk reactions elicited by pejorative terms such as ‘astroturfing’ and ‘sock puppeting’, because this is what secret agents do for a living (see: Andrew Gilligan), plus they do, after all, participate in these relatively minor deceptions while fighting for a the greater good of Conservative dominance:

Andrew Gilligan in OCTOPUPPET: a short film about sock-puppets from Tim Ireland on Vimeo.

Take, for example, the very real fact that Ken Livingstone is 65 years old. Should the Conservatives be penalised just because lefty spin means this is never mentioned by their activists? Obviously not. Therefore it is both logical and fair that someone like Einy Shah should fill this gap by posing as a disillusioned Labour/left activist who is concerned that poor old Ken is past it (a technique pioneered and approved by the Tory Campaigning Brain, Grant Shapps):

Einy90 in action as 'No2Ken'

Of course, the temptation is there to ask the Mayor’s office if No2Ken this is an official/approved or independent mission, but you’d be better off asking David Cameron for the Trident launch codes; some secrets are too big to share, and if they fell into the wrong hands…. why, even Boris Johnson’s bicycle wouldn’t be safe from the forces of leftism.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

Break the silence, buy radios for Burma

Inspired by Will, I’m going to hand over a little blog real estate to Amnesty International for this important message;

In Burma’s harsh media environment a number of courageous individuals work hard to break through the wall of censorship. Although millions tune into these broadcasts daily, not everybody in Burma has access to the crucial information they provide. With your help we can break the silence for millions more.

Our plan is to get 4,000 radios into the country by the middle of July. With such a tight deadline, we need your help to raise £50,000 by the end of this month. As well as radios people on the ground need other communication tools such as walkie talkies and satellite phones.

Each radio costs £12.50 and that includes batteries and getting the radios inside Burma. Beat the junta – buy a radio

Break the silence, buy radios for Burma from Amnesty International on Vimeo.

They say that knowledge is power, and in the lead up to Burma’s first elections in 20 years the humble radio can play a vital role in empowering the voting public. One radio could help a family or community learn about their rights and show them the international solidarity that Burma’s military regime works so hard to silence.

According to Amnesty International, about 12 people will use each radio, so they hope to offer some 50,000 people inside Burma access to independent news broadcasts. That may not sound like much, but your average bag of seeds ain’t much to look at either.

[Psst! Knowing that someone from AI will be reading this, I’ll take the opportunity to repeat/back requests that they add PayPal as a payment option.]








Posted in Humanity | 1 Comment

Nadine Dorries is unfit to Chair the Health Select Committee

MPs will vote in a secret ballot today on a series of committee positions. During this process, they will decide between the following Conservative MPs for Chair of the Health Select Committee; Sir Paul Beresford, Mr Peter Bone, Mr Stephen Dorrell… and Mrs Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries… as Chair… of the Health Select Committee.

If that sentence doesn’t send a chill down your spine, it should; it’d be bad news for breathers everywhere if it actually came to be.

There are many reasons why this MP is unsuited as Chair of any committee outside of a church fete, but I know you’re busy, so I’ve settled on one. Also, rather than dig up any ‘ancient history’ (such as her conduct while sitting on the Parliamentary Science and Tech Select Committee in 2007), I’m going to take a look at the immediate past.

From 7 October 2009 to 11 May 2010, Nadine Dorries was a member of the Commons Science and Technology Committee (and it is at this point that I would like to depart from the narrative just long enough to dedicate the rest of this post to PDF files everywhere*):

House of Commons : Science and Technology Committee : Formal Minutes : Session 2009-10 [.PDF]

Looking at the introduction to the above minutes, there is a name right under Dorries’ on the membership list that immediately catches my eye:

Mrs Nadine Dorries (Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire)
Dr Evan Harris (Liberal Democrat, Oxford West & Abingdon)

Moving on to the minutes themselves, you may note a subtle pattern in the notes on attendance:

The committee met on Wednesday 18 November 2009. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting..

The committee met again on Wednesday 25 November 2009. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting..

The committee met again on Monday 30 November 2009. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 2 December 2009. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Ian Cawsey, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 9 December 2009. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Mr Ian Cawsey, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 6 January 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Brian Iddon, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 13 January 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 20 January 2010 . Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 27 January 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Ian Cawsey, Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 3 February 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Monday 8 February 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Doug Naysmith, Mr Ian Cawsey, Ian Stewart, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 10 February 2010 . Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Doug Naysmith, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 24 February 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Monday 1 March 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 3 March 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 10 March 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Dr Doug Naysmith, Mr Ian Cawsey, Dr Brian Iddon, and Graham Stringer.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 17 March 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Monday 22 March 2010 . Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Dr Doug Naysmith, Ian Stewart, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting.

The committee met again on Wednesday 24 March 2010. Members present were Mr Phil Willis (in the Chair), Mr Tim Boswell, Dr Brian Iddon, Graham Stringer, and Dr Evan Harris.

Nadine Dorries did not attend this meeting

During these meetings, the committee discussed a wide range of topics including drug misuse, Swine Flu, homeopathy, and bioengineering. One might expect some or all of these topics to be of passing interest to someone with “a natural leaning to towards all health related issues” (sic) (source) but Dorries did not attend a single meeting of this committee for its entire session (and there is no record of her resigning in the minutes that I can see).

So if Dorries seriously considers herself worthy and capable of holding the position of Chair on the Health Select Commitee, what reason can she give to explain her dismal attendance record in the far less demanding role of ‘member’ in this previous committee?

Well, here’s a clue for you; the jubilant election-night tweet by Nadine Dorries celebrating the defeat of fellow committee member Dr Evan Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon:

@Nadine4mp: Do my eyes and ears deceive me? Has Dr Death really lost his seat ? (screengrab)

(There was an outcry that followed. This tweet upset a great many people and struck even some fellow Tories as unjustified and undignified. Dorries then closed her Twitter feed claiming she only wanted to use it for the election. A week after that, Stephen Timms was stabbed and Dorries went on to use a magic time machine to claim this was the reason why she had closed her Twitter account and her blog, but that’s a whole other story.)

The nickname ‘Dr Death’ has been used against Dr Evan Harris by a small number of opponents, and their typical justification for it is best summarised in this Daily Mail headline from October 2007:

Daily Mail – Meet Dr Death, the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris who backs embryo experiments, euthanasia and freer abortion

There is also compelling evidence to suggest that Nadine Dorries herself may have been the person who initially fed this nickname to the media as an attack device (before later describing it as a nickname used by “most MPs and journalists”).

Collectively, this evidence is at risk of giving some people the impression that Dorries allowed a difference of opinion on some aspects of biological science to become deeply personal… possibly to the extent that she felt unable to function as a member of a committee – despite her commitment to Parliament and the people – purely because Dr Evan Harris was present at the relevant meetings (as he was at every meeting bar one).

Then again, it may be that Nadine Dorries was simply busy doing something else more important at the time… for every single meeting of the entire 09/10 session of this committee (e.g. On 24 February 2010, she did not have time to attend the Commons Science and Technology Committee meeting, but she did have time to speak at a conference about her ‘blog’. Before this, she was unable to attend the 9 December 2009 meeting because she was busy all that week filming a reality TV show (in which she sought to gain advantage by hiding cash in her bra and – it is alleged – drugs in her washbag).

Either way, she’s not looking like the best candidate for Chair of the Health Select Committee. Not by a long shot.

In fact, if you take a look at the wider evidence (some of which is referenced in this post) you may come to the conclusion that I reached a while ago; she’s unfit to hold office as an MP, and only retains the support of the Conservative party because of their reliance on the Christian right and associated fringe elements (i.e. the type of people who portray/describe pro-choice opponents as baby murderers).

But it will be enough today that you understand/appreciate the evidence and share it with your MP before they vote in the relevant ballot.

You might want to hurry, BTW. Commitee voting starts at 10am today.

Thanks for your time. Cheers all.

[*Private joke. Never mind.]

[Don’t get me started on how Nadine Dorries conducts herself at meetings.]

[Psst! While I’ve got your attention; Patrick Mercer is a disgrace, too.]

EPILOGUE (11 June) – (a) Stephen Dorrell was elected chair of the health committee. Not Dorries. Phew. (b) While I expected Nadine Dorries to do better in a secret ballot than she did in her recent whatever-that-was against the Speaker, these numbers (PDF/source) are far higher than I expected, and just a little bit scary. There are up to 143 MPs in this Parliament who either don’t know that Dorries is a delusional liar… or don’t care.








Posted in Christ..., Tories! Tories! Tories! | 3 Comments

Nadine Dorries: still a shameless liar

Nadine Dorries has decided to stand for Chair of the Health Select Committee.

No, really.

And she is now distributing begging letters to other MPs seeking votes/support.

I say letters, because I hear of a variation of this letter published by Tom Watson sent to female MPs that includes a repeated pitch about the need to get a woman in this position, and I suspect that newer MPs will receive yet another version (not unlike this letter [more]) that helpfully guides n00bs through the tricky process of making up their own minds.

Now, there’s a lot that’s wrong about the case that Dorries makes for herself, but if I start picking at every thread in this latest web of lies, deceits and delusions we could be here all day. Instead, allow me to point out the single, bold lie at the very beginning of her letter:

“I have never held any front bench ambition” – Nadine Dorries (source)

Not only do I know this to be a lie, but I can prove it… because Dorries was singing an altogether different tune in this interview (from happier times) in the Telegraph:

“If we were in government and David didn’t give me a front bench position, I would barricade myself inside his office until he did.” – Nadine Dorries (source)

Nadine Dorries is a liar. Fact.

UPDATE – Chris Paul does the honours with a fleet-footed fisking








Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off