Zac Goldsmith, Anne Milton and the 50:50 split

Let’s begin with this segment of the interview between Jon Snow and Zac ‘Comedy’ Goldsmith:

Jon Snow: Why is a poster that has your face and your name on then paid for by local councillors who are fighting the council elections?

Zac Goldsmith: Before having the posters designed, which were centrally designed, we [i.e. the Conservative party] checked. We didn’t want to have to do two posters, local election and national elections, because people aren’t going to have two posters in their garden. We wanted one poster for both campaigns and we checked…

Jon Snow: But your poster doesn’t even refer to the council elections!

Zac Goldmsith: It’s says “Vote Conservative”, it was a local election campaign

Jon Snow: “Vote Zac Goldsmith!” Your name.

Zac Goldmsith: It says my name, my picture, and “Vote Conservative”. I am telling you that is absolutely standard across the country.

source/watch

During this exchange, Zac Goldsmith appeared sometimes to give the impression that this was standard in all parties across the country, but for now, let’s assume that Zac is only qualified to make specific claims about the advice given by his own party, and take him at his word that this was a ‘standard’ solution for Conservative candidates “across the country”.

Then, let’s take a look at an example of one of these posters, and divvy up the… er…

george osborne poster

Sorry about that. OK, let’s choose an alternative example using a less controversial candidate, and divvy up the… uh-oh…

robert syms poster

Very well, let’s choose another example of a poster using text only to… oh…

chris white poster

Right, on second thoughts let’s take a look at a generic mock-up of one of these posters and divvy up the real estate.

[Psst! But not before pausing to ask if candidates based their poster count on the actual number of posters deployed, or merely the number of sites… which would not take the figure for replacements into account.]

tory poster mock-up

The first thing you may have noticed is that these posters are pretty uniform in design (and while I have seen a poster saying ‘Re-elect (name)’, I have seen none that say ‘Vote Conservative’ as Zac Goldsmith has claimed*… although, even if he is mistaken, perhaps it’s a mark of the man’s modesty that he couldn’t bring himself to look at his own posters.)

The second thing that may have gained your attention is that the posters are clearly not split 50:50 between the ‘candidate’ part and the ‘Conservatives’ part, but are instead uniformly split 75:25 in favour of the candidate (i.e. the person running in the national election).

So your average voter who may have questions about the appropriateness of this claim to begin with might also start asking why the cost is split 50:50 when the standard design of these posters would suggest that a 75:25 split would be more appropriate…. if we are to deem this practice acceptable at all.

Meanwhile, we must also consider that while some Conservative candidates ran in constituencies that included/overlapped boroughs where local elections were conducted on the same day as the general election, these areas do not match or map over each other precisely. Putting posters throughout a constituency may only cover part of a borough, or part/all of two or more boroughs… and (crucially) some boroughs did not run local elections in 2010.

Were costs for posters in such cases always split 50:50? (Oh, and is this the part where we’re patronisingly assured that it’s all very complicated and this is why the sums work out so neatly?)

And what about those Conservative candidates who ran in the national election in areas where no local elections were taking place anywhere near them… but still split the cost of posters 50:50 anyway?

Take a bow, Anne Milton of Guildford:

document from Anne Milton's election expenses return

I’ve asked Anne Milton about this, but she has so far refused to comment… so excuse me while I try to make sense of it all on my lonesome:

I think in this case we’re expected to believe that the Guildford Conservatives are 100% confident that they will go on to ‘rent’ these posters out a second time in an upcoming election, and it is on this basis they have halved the amount of their candidate’s poster expenditure (on paper).

However, this level of creative accountancy not only assumes that Anne Milton will run again, but also assumes that the Conservatives will not change their logo, and that this MP will not change her appearance. OK, so perhaps it can be argued that logo changes are infrequent but the same cannot be said of changes to the appearance of certain MPs:

Anne Milton from 2003 to 2009

Amateur propagandist and professional bullshit artist Shane Greer claimed in a recent post on the Total Politics website; “when it comes to accounting for the expense of those posters every other campaign uses the same trick”… but even if we only look at two MPs (from one party), it is clear that there are at least two entirely different ‘tricks’, and neither of them pass the smell test.

Finally, even if we are to accept vague assurances from a range of Conservatives that this is practice is widespread (i.e. that all parties are at this) I do not regard this as acceptable, and neither should you, as it would be yet another example of one set of rules for us, and another set of rules guidelines for MPs.

Here’s a challenge for the shiny, new Conservative party and their claims to aspire to a new standard of transparency; this information is already in the public domain, and CCHQ could within hours produce a list of every candidate they fielded, how they split the costs of posters, and on what basis they justify this split. While they’re about it, they could also publish the relevant advice to these candidates that Zac Goldsmith heralds as ‘standard’.

Or (and I think this is far more likely) they could compel the ‘great ignored’ to fuss about and ferret out the details on a candidate-by-candidate basis in the hopes of masking any corruption in their ranks.

*UPDATE (5pm) – Finally found a picture of one of Zac Goldsmith’s posters in Flickr. It does indeed say ‘Vote Conservative’ on the bottom half quarter, so he does have that going for him.

UPDATE (23 Jul) – Channel 4 and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism have discovered that Conservative MP Daniel Byles cut the £2,300 bill for his posters to less than £700 on his declaration on the basis that he plans to use them in two future elections. Move over, Paul the Psychic Precognitive Octopus.

Meanwhile, Anne Milton’s office insist that I refer any questions to the Guildford Conservative Association, but they in turn have told me that I cannot expect any answers for over a month, because the agent, Jackie Porter, is on holiday until the end of August.

And CCHQ? They clammed up a few days ago after making some vague claims suggesting that the ‘standard’ advice Zac Goldsmith spoke of came directly from the Electoral Commission.








Posted in Anne Milton, Tories! Tories! Tories! | 4 Comments

Zac Goldsmith, Jemima Khan, and the deleted tweets

Last Friday, on July 16, Zac Goldsmith appeared on Channel 4 news in a spectacular car-crash of an interview with Jon Snow. If you’ve not watched it yet, I highly recommend that you do, not least because watching this and then reading through some of the reactions from the right will help you to better understand what it means when certain Conservatives assure you that so-and-so ‘destroyed’ or ‘exposed’ an opponent, or that such-and-such a blogger/journalist is ‘vile’ and/or a ‘liar':

Here’s the accusation Zac Goldsmith chose to lead with (and focus on in one way or another for damn near the whole interview);

“At the end of your report last night, you stood and faced the cameras and lamented the fact that I had spoken to SKY TV, not Channel 4, and you said of course we’d be delighted to have Channel 4, I mean have him appear on Channel 4, at any time. You then repeated, I think twice on Twitter last night to your followers, at 11 o’clock, and later, you said, I’m going to quote ‘He decided to go SKY instead. We’d been asking for a response for a number of days, but until today refused to comment.’ Now, you know that’s not true.”
– Zac Goldsmith to Jon Snow (source/watch)

1. Even if we are to accept Zac Goldsmith’s last minute offer to appear on July 15 as reasonable and sincere (it is my understanding that he would only appear live in a ‘head to head’ confrontation with a relatively junior reporter, and that he made this offer very late in the day), what Jon Snow tweeted was still absolutely true; Channel 4 had indeed asked Zac Goldsmith for a response about this for a number of days (up to a week, in fact) and until the 15th – the day of Jon Snow’s tweet – Goldsmith had refused to comment.

2. The way Zac Goldsmith phrases it makes it appear as if Jon Snow was deliberately and repeatedly taunting/maligning him (late at night, no less) purely for the benefit of his Twitter followers, and this is simply not the case. Jon Snow tweeted what he did in response to a question from Jemima Khan… Zac Goldsmith’s sister. Snow then repeated it the next day in response to a false accusation from one of Jemima Khan’s keener followers that he was dodging that question. The small percentage of people likely to have checked this out for themselves are unlikely to have noticed or fully appreciated what really happened, because Jemima Khan had by then… deleted the questions/accusations she put to Jon Snow!

3. The text from Jemima Khan’s since-deleted tweets to Jon Snow appears below. I’ve reversed the archive order so they read sequentially (i.e. from the top down) and included Jon Snow’s tweets and the tweet from one of Jemima Khan’s followers (Zahid0708) for the full and proper context. The date change (from Jul 15 to Jul 16) most likely results from Jemima responding past midnight… not that there’s anything wrong with that (eh, Zac?).

JemKhan: @jonsnowC4 Why didn’t Ch 4 allow Zac on tonight to respond live to your programme as he requested? Why only a written statement?
[~11PM Jul 15, 2010]

JonSnowC4: @JemKhan he decided to go to Sky instead..we had been asking him for a response for a number of days but until today refused comment
[11:17 PM Jul 15th]

Zahid0708: @jonsnowC4 I’m waiting for your reply to, @JemKhan. Not like a journalist to be lost for words.
[11:53 PM Jul 15th]

JemKhan: @jonsnowC4 Not true. At 5.30pm Zac asked Ch 4 to allow him to give a live response. They refused saying he could only give a written one
[Jul 16, 2010]

JemKhan: @jonsnowC4 So Zac wrote -“I offered at 5.30 to do a live interview addressing the issues raised but was told by Ch 4 that this was not poss”
[Jul 16, 2010]

JemKhan: @jonsnowC4 Unsurprisingly that written response was not read out.
[Jul 16, 2010]

JemKhan: @jonsnowC4 I’ve seen the email exchange with Antony Barnett who presented the programme in which he acknowledges that this is true
[Jul 16, 2010]

JonSnowC4: @Zahid0708 I did reply fifteen minutes after her posting. he refused our request for response over a number of days. chose Sky instead
[8:49 AM Jul 16th]

[You may note that Jon Snow did not respond to Jemima Khan’s further tweets… most likely because she deleted them before he had a chance to read them.]

4. Jemima Khan’s since-deleted tweets also reveal the true nature of Zac Goldsmith’s statement that he complains was not included in the 15 July broadcast. Apparently it did no more than dodge the issue of his election expenses and make the same accusations he was allowed to air repeatedly the very next night (July 16).

5. On July 16 Zac Goldsmith appeared on Channel 4, repeatedly and falsely accusing his hosts of misleading their viewers… when he was doing exactly this with his accusations, aided in no small part by his sister.

6. I confronted Jemima Khan about the deleted tweets on Twitter, and here is the resulting exchange:

Bloggerheads: @JemKhan To repeat: Why delete your Q. to @jonsnowC4 that he answers here? http://j.mp/99XM0S What are you hiding? #zacgoldsmith
[12:14 AM Jul 18]

JemKhan: @bloggerheads Because I delete all correspondence after a few days from timeline. Plus Zac clearly doesn’t need me to fight his battles.
[12:42 AM Jul 18]

Bloggerheads: @JemKhan Interesting policy, deleting correspondence as you go. So if Zac doesn’t need you fighting his battles for him why hound Jon Snow?
[12:53 AM Jul 18]

Bloggerheads: @JemKhan Fact is, Zac relied on the answer to YOUR question on C4. So he DID need you to fight this battle for him http://bit.ly/bNHUBh
[1:01 AM Jul 18]

7. Clearly, Zac Goldsmith does need his sister to fight his battles, as he could not have led his now-infamous C4 interview with those false accusations of his without her since-deleted tweets. However, rather than stand by her position or challenge mine, Jemima Khan chose to delete her answer within minutes of my reply…

8. … but not before signing off with an RT that’s fast becoming a textbook move for people who get caught playing silly buggers on Twitter; belittling the entire exercise of tweeting as inconsequential. Class.

Jemima Khan Twitter account grab








Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

Patrick Mercer: for the love of…

Before early 2009, the Conservative MP Patrick Mercer enjoyed a partnership with Glen Jenvey (aka Richard Tims) and Dominic Wightman (aka Dominic Whiteman, aka Richard Walker) that appeared to make a positive contribution in the struggle against extremism/terrorism, and earned him/them considerable media coverage in the process.

Exactly when (or if) his relationship with these men ended is still unknown, but in 2009, Patrick Mercer made some extraordinary moves to shield (and continue to work with) Glen Jenvey, though he must have known or at least suspected at the time that Jenvey was fabricating the evidence of extremism that earned him tabloid coverage.

I also have evidence to hand that shows Mercer shielding conman Dominic Wightman in a similar fashion even earlier than this, and he continued to shield this man he knew to be a liar throughout the period Wightman was manipulating me into attacking one of his former VIGIL partners while manipulating Jenvey into accusing me of being a paedophile (and onward throughout the period when Wightman was manipulating others into publishing my home address alongside further false accusations ranging from involvement with extremists to stalking; Mercer even had the audacity to repeat the latter claim behind closed doors as a cover story that also helped him to avoid awkward questions).

At any stage during 2009, Patrick Mercer could have severely limited Wightman’s capacity to harass his former partners and/or perceived enemies, simply by speaking up. He chose not to.

Of course, standing up and admitting his past/present association with Jenvey and/or Wightman may well have cost him his position as Chair of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism, and it certainly would have destroyed his credibility in media circles, as by this late stage, he had shielded both men even after it became apparent they were not to be trusted; during their association/partnership with him, both men were involved in stunts designed to gain media coverage while stirring up religious hatred.

Now take a look at all the lovely money Patrick Mercer earned writing articles for the media (as revealed in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests);

MERCER, Patrick (Newark)

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Fees for articles in:
Independent on Sunday. Address: 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5HF. (Up to £5,000)
12 September 2009, received payment of £500. Hours: 1.5 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
The Independent. Address: 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5HF.
12 September 2009, received payment of £160. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Sunday Telegraph (Up to £5,000)
Yorkshire Post (Up to £5,000)
Daily Mirror. Address: MGN Limited, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP. (Up to £5,000)
3 September 2009, received payment of £500. Hours: 1.75 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
3 September 2009, received payment of £350. Hours: 1.25 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Mail on Sunday. Address: Associated Newspapers Limited, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.
3 July 2009 received payment of £1,200 for article. Hours: 1.5hrs. (Registered 3 August 2009)
16 August 2009, received payment of £750. Hours: 2.5 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
18 August 2009, received payment of £1200. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
6 September 2009, received payment of £800. Hours: 1.25 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Received £1000 for a 1000 word article that took 2.5 hours to write. (Registered 11 January 2010)
The Times. Address: News International Limited, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1XY.
13 July 2009 received payment of £500 for article. Hours: 1hr 45mins. (Registered 3 August 2009)
Sunday Times. Address: News International Limited, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1XY.
7 September 2009, received payment of £750. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 28 October 2009)
News of the World. Address: News International Limited, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1XY.
16 August 2009, received payment of £400. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
The Scotsman. Address: The Scotsman Publications Ltd, Barclay House, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS.
26 August 2009, received £100. Hours: 30 mins. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT.
26 November 2009, £200 received for article. Hours: 45 mins. (Registered 30 November 2009)
Appearances on Newsnight. Address: BBC, PO Box 1922, Glasgow, G2 3WT.
4 September 2009, received payment of £70. Hours: 40 mins. (Registered 28 October 2009)
7 September 2009, received payment of £70. Hours: 40 mins. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Security consultant to Olive Group (from April 2008). Address: 6 Eighth Floor, 6 New Street Square, New Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 3AQ.
18 August 2009, received payment of £1500. Hours: 24 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Security consultant to Red Amber.
HarperCollins Publishers, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB.
I received publishing advance for novel from Harper Collins in 2008/09. (Registered 17 June 2009)
I received publishing advance and continuing royalties for novel from Harper Collins in 2009/10 (Registered 17 June 2009)
£4300 received on 20 October 2009 for the synopsis of volume 3 of my novels. Hours: 18 hrs. (30 November 2009)
Received £3,585 for delivery of novel. Hours: 240 hrs. (Registered 11 January 2010)
Received £930 from AP Watt for talking book deal. Address: AP Watt Ltd, 20 John Street, London WC1N 2DR Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 28 October 2009)
Received payment of €25 for completing a telephone interview/questionnaire for Ipsos Mori, 79-81 Borough Road, London, SE1 1FY. Hours: 7mins. Fee donated to charity. (Registered 3 August 2009)

That’s not to say that Patrick Mercer conducted himself in this disgraceful manner only for money; he may have done it for personal/political reasons that we can only guess at for as long as he refuses to discuss the matter.

UPDATE (9:30am) – I called Patrick Mercer to ask if money played a role in his decisions as outlined above. His response; ‘no comment’.

He also had no comment to make about when he ended his relationship with Dominic Wightman, if he is still claiming privately that I ‘stalk’ him (even though he has not filed a police complaint or taken any measures to proceed with civil action), or if he still maintains that my ex-directory home address never passed through his office.

Patrick Mercer did, however, ask a very revealing question during the call; “Are you broadcasting this?”

I answered very clearly/politely that I wasn’t, and asked why he would think I would do something like that. He responded by insisting that I move on to the next question.

I think it’s fair to say that Patrick Mercer is either in contact with Nadine Dorries or at least well aware of her treating his privately-shared accusations as if they were statements of fact.








Posted in Old Media, Tories! Tories! Tories! | Comments Off

Top 10 Biggest Liars in British Blogging Poll – 2010

In honour of Iain Dale’s repeated attempts to have his slightly-less-rigged blog-poll taken seriously (see also: Top 100 Worst Blogs Poll) I’ve decided to conduct a poll of my own based on my own interests… i.e. exposing liars and watching them squirm like cut snakes.

Instructions follow:

Top 10 Biggest Liars in British Blogging Poll

1. Email me [bloggerheads DOT com AT gmail DOT com] with a list of anywhere from 1 to 3 nominees for ‘biggest liar’ including their name/nickname and a link to their main blog

(Please rank them in order of their dishonesty, according to your own judgement, based on what you can prove.)

2. If a blogger dedicates the majority of their efforts to having an impact of British politics (and tells lies in the process), they qualify as a potential nominee. Yes, even if they’re an expat and/or have recent/past form for skipping the country when the heat’s on.

(People who engage in micro-blogging on Twitter also qualify, but I reserve the right to chart these liars separately. Ditto for journalists/columnists who pretend at blogging on newspaper websites, but couldn’t hold their own in a comments-based conversation if they tried.)

3. For each nominee you list, you must show an example of a clear intent to deceive and provide relevant link(s)/evidence to back it up.

(If there’s no single article that summarises/exposes the evidence, you may consider writing one. If you wish to base your claim that someone is lying on evidence that no-one is allowed to see, then please piss off and have a seat over here, next to Ian Hislop.)

4. Nominations close at midnight on 13 August, 2010

This last measure is designed to discourage/discredit certain people who are likely to dismiss your claim as a personal/political attack while running around making unsubstantiated claims about you or other people being liars in the process. I’ve learned from bitter experience that this comes as naturally to some liars as breathing.

Please note that while a single post/event involving multiple lies should (in theory) be acceptable, you are broadly restricted to one example/event for each nominee, so please make it a good/illustrative one. I’d include an example* or two to guide you on this point, but that might skew the results, and we can’t have that. If I have any doubts about your submission, I’ll ask.

(*I will take the time to clear up a common point of confusion: an error/mistake is not a lie, but it quickly becomes one when the author refuses to acknowledge they were wrong, despite the evidence.)

The final chart will be decided on a balance between how many times a person is nominated (i.e. whose proven lies had the most impact?), how highly they are placed in comparison to others (i.e. how serious do others regard their lies to be?) and the variety/strength of examples listed for each nominee (i.e. who tells the most lies?).

Above all, keep in mind that I will as a result be hosting a post that declares a number of potentially quite litigious people to be some of the biggest liars in British politics, so I will want to be very comfortable with the body of evidence. If you wish you vote/nomination(s) to count for something, the onus is on you to provide what liars hate the most; evidence.

Happy voting!

UPDATE (29 July, 2010) – I’m calling this one off on the basis that I have other priorities at the moment, and won’t have time to give all nominations due care and attention. (calling someone a ‘liar’ is serious business, and you need to be damn sure of your ground). If it’s any consolation, unchecked entries wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyway; Iain Dale and Nadine Dorries were streets ahead, and no-one else came within shouting distance (not that this stopped Phil Hendren from shouting anyway).








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

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








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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.








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