I was reading a copy of MAD Magazine from March 1979, and was impressed by how far we’ve come since then. (Part I)
I was reading a copy of MAD Magazine from March 1979, and was impressed by how far we’ve come since then. (Part II)
I was reading a copy of MAD Magazine from March 1979, and was impressed by how far we’ve come since then. (Part I)
I was reading a copy of MAD Magazine from March 1979, and was impressed by how far we’ve come since then. (Part II)
Let me do you the courtesy of explaining why I think Patrick Mercer’s ‘Tory conference terror alert’ story is a crock of beans.
To begin with, Patrick Mercer claims his sources are retired police and Army intelligence officers:
Sources in Northern Ireland said that the October conference in central Birmingham had emerged as the prize target on a hit list drawn up by resurgent republican paramilitaries. Patrick Mercer, ex-chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counter-terrorism, said former senior police and army intelligence officers had informed him that dissident splinter groups had discussed targeting David Cameron’s first conference as prime minister. (source)
Elsewhere this is reported/repeated as “sources in Northern Ireland” or even “police/intelligence sources in Northern Ireland” but really this should carry the health warning “according to Conservative MP Patrick Mercer…” because as Mark Townsend and Toby Helm (authors of the original Observer article) noted at the time;
Sources for West Midlands police said they had no intelligence of a specific threat against the Tory party conference. (source)
So this is not from the official song sheet and we only have Mercer’s word to go on that anyone sang otherwise. As far as the police charged with policing the event are concerned, there is no evidence of a specific threat. (You may wish to add ‘that they wish to discuss at this time’, which changes little about what follows, even if true.)
This leaves us with the possibility that this is (a) a leak, (b) the opinion of one or two retired officers, or (c) wholly imagined bullshit
(a) Exploring the possibility that it is a leak from the active police/intelligence community, we encounter the minor problem of Patrick Mercer’s recent embarrassments. Anyone in the loop will be aware of criminal investigations into/involving (hopefully former) associates of Patrick Mercer who, crucially, turned out to be conspicuously if not spectacularly discredited as sources of terrorism ‘intelligence’. Any proper cop on the job should also be aware that Mercer very recently involved police in a childish and damaging tabloid claim about his former mistress. Similarly, no serving soldier can afford to be associated with Mercer’s HIV bomb fantasies/alarmism. Ultimately, Mercer offers as much integrity and discretion as a pair of crotchless panties. If there’s a genuine threat to the Tory party conference that needs to be leaked for some reason, there are far more credible channels at present (if not in general). I’d sooner believe the NHS were issuing leaks through Nadine Dorries.
(b) If this is the opinion of one or two retired officers, years of anti-corruption regulation and legislation are working against them in an effort to keep them out of the loop, so at best they are making a judgement based on material in the public domain… or passed on in a public house. If they are privy to anything beyond that, they are most likely breaking the law if not the terms they agreed to upon employment and then retirement. If so, then to what end? One has to ask what the purpose of such whistle-blowing might be if the threat is real and it is not the wish of the authorities that it be known (see ‘a’ above). If it is as Mercer implies and there’s a pattern of senior police and army intelligence officers privately expressing concern about a specific threat to the Tory party conference, why is this specific threat not being dealt with through the usual channels? Most probably because it doesn’t exist:
Laurence Robertson, a Conservative MP who chairs a British parliamentary committee on Northern Ireland, told Sky he had no information that dissident nationalists planned a mainland bombing campaign…” (source)
(c) This leaves us with the possibility that Patrick Mercer’s sources have succumbed to bullshit or fantasy, or (more likely, in my view) Patrick Mercer himself introduced/positioned mention of a specific threat (while simultaneously leaving himself some wiggle room for later);
[Mercer] said: “They want to kill by the end of August in order to get themselves poised for whatever operations they can mount in September leading up to the Tory party conference in early October. There are doubts over whether they have the capability, but the aspiration is certainly there and West Midlands police would be crazy not to take the threat seriously.” – (source)
“I have no doubt there is an aspiration, a hope, a desire to bomb the mainland (Britain) and probably the Tory (Conservative) or indeed any of the party political conferences,” Mercer told Sky News. – (source)
In short, I fail to see how this is any different to past media alerts by Mercer that threaten to do more harm than good, and I suspect the primary component of this alert is Mercer’s wish to gain some positive publicity and re-establish himself as a credible spokesperson on terrorism.
[Psst! If CCHQ plan to play up the perceived threat in order to pressure police into providing added security for their conference that the taxpayer will have to pay for (i.e. neatly keeping anti-Tory protestors at bay at no cost to them while simultaneously associating them with militant elements), then Cameron may as well start rolling tanks into Heathrow and be done with it.]
Dear Mr Ireland,
Each week Total Politics interviews a top political blogger. Would you
be available for a phone/email interview (it’s only about ten
minutes) sometime this week?
Sent from (ip address): 184.108.40.206
Date/Time: August 11, 2010 2:22 pm
I must politely decline on the grounds that your publisher, Iain Dale, knowingly allowed me to be smeared as a paedophile, and was refusing to cooperate with the relevant criminal investigation while simultaneously libelling Tom Watson (as a smear merchant, no less) when he further smeared me as a stalker in order to mask his embarrassment.
Had you read my blog in any detail, you would know that.
Had you merely scanned the front page, you would have noticed that I also recently described your executive editor Shane Greer as an “amateur propagandist and professional bullshit artist”.
But thanks for revealing how poorly researched these invitations are. Perhaps it will make other recipients think twice before pouncing on your
sincere generous exclusive ordinary offer.
PS – Ask Iain Dale why he didn’t call Patrick Mercer as he agreed (and promised) to do. He tells some people he did and gives others an excuse for why he didn’t.
I’m doing my first ‘Pecha Kucha’ style presentation at an event in Guildford this evening but was in two minds about showing off the current status of one of my long-term search results. Being second to Tim Berners-Lee is one thing, but I wasn’t sure if I liked being slightly less popular than Mel Gibson:
Happily, by breakfast this morning, it had all sorted itself out:
BORING FINE PRINT – This is a brand new result (I can’t recall overtaking Berners-Lee before) and Google runs multiple servers offering slightly different results at times, so your mileage may vary, especially if you are signed in to Google and have set some search preferences. These searches are from a UK perspective, and will appear only for UK-based users of Google. Currently I’m 37th in Google’s .com database. Search positioning should not be used as the sole indicator of the quality of your Tim(s).
Bit of an extraordinary post, this one. Apologies for bending your ear.
After a rotten 18+ months facing some quite extraordinary harassment from a range of Conservative-aligned dastards and assorted supporting fruit-loops, I face one of my greatest challenges in the coming months.
It is not a legal challenge or a sudden increase in bullying by anonymous cowards or anything like that; it is a deeply personal challenge, it is as serious as it gets, and it is going to eat a BIG chunk of my time as I work to care for those I love.
I wish I could tell you more, but I’m not at liberty to share the full details, and in the current circumstances I fear there are those who would take advantage of even scant details. (They’ve certainly stooped lower previous to this.)
I will be offline for two weeks from tomorrow.
After that, I hope to continue blogging and working, but you may note that both my blog and my services have now been updated and streamlined.
I hope this will allow me to continue the mix of blogging and work that’s sustained me for the past decade (details of which are now finally available through a single, searchable database, BTW).
If you would like to help, there are two or three things you can do:
1. Check out my new series of articles on the subject of SEO (and the related seminar product) and bring on any link love as you see fit:
2. Refer potentially interested parties to my new seminar/services through other means. Such as email, conversation or carrier pigeon.
3. Cut out the middle man and just send money (a ‘donate’ button has been added, top right, along with the rest of the gubbins).
I apologise for the poor timing, but there’s no getting around the way things are, and the way they will be.
Comments will remain open for today, and will then be suspended for two weeks.
UPDATE – Comments may be on and off today, too. IntenseDebate is taking much longer than expected to process previous comments. Apologies if your comment is held over. You are in a very long queue behind a series of historical comments.
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.
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…
Sorry about that. OK, let’s choose an alternative example using a less controversial candidate, and divvy up the… uh-oh…
Very well, let’s choose another example of a poster using text only to… oh…
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.]
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:
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:
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.
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:
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.