Blogs: reality, illusion and potential

Iain Duncan Smith – Bloggers will rescue the right: …Britain hasn’t yet had much experience of electronic campaigning. But the blogosphere will become a force in Britain, and it could ignite many new forces of conservatism. The internet’s automatic level playing field gives conservatives opportunities that mainstream media have often denied them.

Iain Duncan Smith may appear to be talking out of his arse in this piece, but this is an illusion caused by him speaking (some) sense with his head firmly planted in said orifice.

1. The right doesn’t need much rescuing, especially as Murdoch controls so much of what people see and hear and his favourite puppy-dog Tony Blair has co-opted so many right-wing policies and put a smiley face on them.

2. Speaking of co-opting, Karl Rove knows very well that the ‘empowerment’ of blogs ‘shown’ by Rathergate is total bull. Right-wing blogs were used in this case – possibly by Rove himself – and people in the U.S. were completely had as a result. One small document (an obvious fraud of uncertain origin) was proved to be false and the interpretation fed to the mainstream audience was that this disproved everything that had ever been said or proved about Bush’s service record. (See The Bush AWOL Forgeries: Fonts Do Not Unmake Facts)

3. IDS does not have a weblog (or even his own website, by the looks of things). Do pardon me while I sneer in his general direction like a netropolitian elitist.

The Book Club Blog has a round-up of reactions, and two come from immediate orbit. Here’s Robin’s short take, and here’s Nosemonkey’s optimistic take.

(And now we also have the road to to consider.)

My view:

Reality is what sends me to bed each night; there is only so much you can achieve in one day before falling over. But potential is what gets me out of bed each morning.

Now, weblogs have enormous potential to bypass mainstream media. It has been proven that they can subvert mainstream media, but only when a weakness is shown or (puts on tinfoil beanie) orchestrated. However, this ability relies greatly upon the reputation/network of any given blog or group of blogs. MPs, writers and activists should be very aware that this kind of reputation or network requires them to communicate; but this communication should not be seen purely as a means to an end.

On that note, it needs to be said that Backing Blair is a bit of a departure for Bloggerheads, in that I have to bring a very large percentage of you around to my way of thinking (i.e. this project is not borne entirely of what we as a group – most likely – may think and/or be concerned about, but what I think will address a problem most of us have in common).

I’m risking a lot of what I’ve built up over these past 3 years because I think my solution is the best way forward. And here’s something from the same paper (if a different edition) that I hope will help to make my case…

Guardian – We cannot vote Labour: This has transformed Labour from an imperfect conduit of progressive change to an active obstacle to it. To vote for it is to abandon any hope that such change will ever come. It is to hand over responsibility for a leftwing agenda to those who have shown nothing but contempt for liberal-left policies and for the people who hold them dear. Nowhere is this more evident than on Iraq.

I tossed and turned for a bit last night over a common barb sent BB’s way; ‘democracy is choice’ says site that tells you how to vote

But right now you have no choice (simplethink illusions used only to clarify statement):
– Vote Labour and cement Blair’s control over the party
– Vote Tory and invite Howard to ‘bring back Thatcherism’
– Vote Lib-Dem, SNP, anti-war etc. and ‘waste your vote’

If Backing Blair develops as a strong enough movement, it will provide you with a (pardon the term) Fourth Way:
Vote against Labour under a single banner that can be seen clearly by those within Labour who are in a position to unseat Blair.

In short; keep Labour, lose Blair.

Last year’s by-elections involved a heartfelt (but scattered) protest vote that almost sparked a leadership challenge.

Wake up to the potential.


Posted in UK General Election 2005 | 2 Comments

Former ambassador to go head-to-head with Straw

Independent – A UK diplomat says Britain is part of a worldwide torture plot. Is he telling the truth?: Craig Murray is a very undiplomatic diplomat. Former ambassadors are supposed to be tending their flowers in Home Counties gardens, but this one is not. He is, instead, making extraordinary allegations, the most damaging of which is that Britain is using information obtained from torture to imprison people indefinitely. So convinced is he of the truth of this and other claims that he plans to stand against his former employer, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, at the general election. “We have abandoned the notion of a foreign policy based on the rule of international law, in favour of one which says might is right, that there is one superpower and we’ll be its best friend,” he says. “I want to put these issues in front of the voters.”

More here.

Methinks I sniff a special project/exception…

Posted in The War on Stupid | 2 Comments

Man to marry horse: update

Oh, I say!

UPDATE – This week’s B3ta challenges you to find/create a new sport for the upper classes now fox hunting has been banned.

My official entry is here.

Also, the latest newsletter is out and the paid link ain’t that bad.

Have a good weekend, peeps!

Posted in Photoshopping | Comments Off

Backing Blair – constituency updates

The Backing Blair constituency pages have been updated: In some cases, where good arguments have been made by people in the constituency concerned, the Tactical Voting advice has been changed to reflect more realistic opportunities. So, for example, if Labour holds a seat with the Conservatives in second place, but the Liberal Democrats are close behind the Conservatives, then the Tactical Voting advice would reflect the situation that people from Labour are more likely to vote LibDem than Tory, and recommend the LibDems as the ideal recipient for your vote.

If you know of a constituency where our strategic voting advice can be improved in such a way, please do get in touch.

A lot of effort is going into presenting our position as ‘we want you to vote Tory’, when in reality it is ‘if it’s called for, we don’t want you to be afraid to vote Tory’… and I’m sure you can work out why.

There are others taking a different tack, claiming or suggesting that we see the Conservatives as a viable alternative when it should be clear that we see very few alternatives in this election.

Others suggest that we get behind Labour and try to effect change from within.

Damn fine strategy, that. I just wish I’d thought of it before the Iraq war. I could have joined the army.

UPDATE – I hope to bring you a funding update early next week. The more you give, the better the news will be.

Posted in UK General Election 2005 | 2 Comments

What really, really matters

Guardian – Papers reveal Bagram abuse: New evidence has emerged that US forces in Afghanistan engaged in widespread Abu Ghraib-style abuse, taking “trophy photographs” of detainees and carrying out rape and sexual humiliation. Documents obtained by the Guardian contain evidence that such abuses took place in the main detention centre at Bagram, near the capital Kabul, as well as at a smaller US installation near the southern city of Kandahar. The documents also indicate that US soldiers covered up abuse in Afghanistan and in Iraq – even after the Abu Ghraib scandal last year.

This is from an embargoed press release from the ACLU. You can read a copy of it here.

Guardian – ‘Nobody is talking’: The evidence of two new books demonstrates that 9/11 created the will for new, harsher interrogation techniques of foreign suspects by the US and led to the abuses in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. In a special report, James Meek reveals that it is the British who refined these methods, and who have provided the precedent for legalised torture

Nice double-meaning in that headline. Nobody’s talking.

And nobody’s investigating. One can only wonder why.

Also, nobody’s asking questions. Well, to be more accurate, nobody willing to ask genuine questions can get anywhere near Bush. Instead, whores lob softballs his way…

New York Times – The White House Stages Its ‘Daily Show’: It is a brilliant strategy. When the Bush administration isn’t using taxpayers’ money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government.

Even if you don’t have a shred of humanity in you (or if you’re more concerned about the latest jobless figures for Blyth Valley) this should disturb you greatly.


Washington Post – War Helps Recruit Terrorists, Hill Told: The insurgency in Iraq continues to baffle the U.S. military and intelligence communities, and the U.S. occupation has become a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, top U.S. national security officials told Congress yesterday… “The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists,” Goss said in his first public testimony since taking over the CIA. Goss said Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist who has joined al Qaeda since the U.S. invasion, “hopes to establish a safe haven in Iraq” from which he could operate against Western nations and moderate Muslim governments.

Meanwhile, we have this happening in Britain, while Blair’s supporters are busy depicting protest voters as petulant children wanting to ‘slap Tony’s wrist’ for purposes of self-gratification.

It’s the whole ‘naive peacenik’ thing again. We lack wisdom in the ways of the world, you see. If only we would open our eyes to the ‘truth’…

My eyes are open. And I can’t stop screaming.

Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off

The possible need to state the bleeding obvious

OK, quick show of hands. Who here doesn’t understand what ‘Jim Doyle’ is up to?

UPDATE – I just left this comment on the site. It was deleted within minutes: “Jim, we’ve explained this in public, and we’ve explained it in private. Let me make this absolutely clear: we do not think it is a good idea. In fact we would consider what you propose to be incredibly counter-productive. It’s a mystery to us why you insist on continuing.”

Jim is now busy making comments at sites that have linked to Backing Blair, urging them to join his ‘backing’ Backing Blair campaign. All we need now is a backwards backtracking half-baked back-bacon Backing Blair campaign and the circle will be complete.

Posted in Normal People | 13 Comments

Energy to burn

Tut. Tut. Tut. Why can’t they spend their time doing sometime *constructive*? Do none of these people have jobs? (And so on and so forth.)

PS – Libyans! Run for it, Marty!

Posted in Consume! | 1 Comment

Is Gareth Davies a Labour stooge?

Unless you suffer from severe short-term memory loss, you’re likely to remember this post from yesterday identifying a Bloggerheads visitor that appeared to be viewing the site from inside Labour HQ.

The person using this IP address visited again yesterday. They viewed one page using this IP address. At 21:43 GMT.

Someone’s working late.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me from about this point on, as I’m a tad confused.

Y’see, I was under the impression that IP addresses were rather unique things. But another Bloggerheads reader by the name of Will (cheers Will) noticed something rather odd…

Further Googling of the IP revealed a post to a messageboard from Dec 12 2004 using this IP address and when the profile of that poster told us it was a guy by the name of Ben Coffman from London whose job involved political research, I figured we had our man.

Hell, a press release dated 14 Dec 2004 on this page urges people seeking more information on the ID cards bill to contact “Ben Coffman in the Labour Party Policy Unit.”

So that’s Ben Coffman, core Labour policy guy, works at their head office. IP address:

Ben is one of many people from Labour HQ who use IPs in the range from –

Now I wish to pause for a moment to introduce you to a couple of Labour councillors.

Meet Bob Piper. He’s a Labour councillor. I mention him only by way of example. Just to show you that independent thought is still permitted within the Labour party (for now) and you shouldn’t expect slavish support for every one of Tony Blair’s policies from every Labour councillor you come across.

Now I’d like you to meet Gareth Davies. He is also a Labour councillor. He is less than happy with Backing Blair and says in this post that people like me should be regulated.

Why? Because, he says: “It’s about having open accountable elections. That means knowing who’s placing adverts and running campaigns, and who’s paying for them. All I ask is that if a site wants to campaign for a particular vote at an election, or against a political vote, it should have a declaration of who publishes it, on whose behalf, who pays the bills, and that it should be a criminal offence to make false statements about who the publisher is, and about the source of the money to pay the bills.”

Now we get to the important bit…

We cannot assume that Gareth Davies would take umbrage at Backing Blair just because he’s a Labour councillor.

We also need to note that he believes that people have the right to know where their information is coming from.

Got all that? OK, let’s get to the meat…

There’s a chap who posts many a message to the Black and Ambers forum. He goes by the name Exilegareth and you can see some of his posts by clicking here. Click on his profile and you’ll see that this is the very same Gareth we’ve come to know and love. The clincher is that link to in the profile.

Now, the Black and Amber forums are of a type that notes the IP address used for each post. Looking at Gareth’s entries, we see a variety of IP addresses. One reveals that he uses BT Broadband. Sometimes. Another reveals that he uses Telewest. Sometimes.

But if we look deeper we see – during the period of September and October 2004 – several posts by Gareth Davies using the IP address

IP address used by Labour HQ chap:
IP address used by Gareth Davies:

Now, I’m not much of an Interwebs mechanic, so do correct me if I’m wrong… but I can only think of five things that would explain this strange match of data:

1. The IP address has been reassigned between October and December – and by pure chance it was assigned to someone else with an interest in Bloggerheads.

2. The Labour Party provides internet access for their employees/members/councillors and IP addresses are somehow randomised and/or shared – and Gareth Davies and Ben Coffman have both used this facility for private purposes.

3. There is a hot-desk or semi-public computer (or group of same) at Labour HQ that has been used by both Gareth Davies and Ben Coffman – for private purposes.

4. This range of IP addresses is used not only by the head office in London, but also Labour’s regional offices. This still places Gareth Davies very close to the core campaign team as he has been inside that office. And appears to feel ‘at home’ enough to use these facilities for private purposes.

5. Gareth Davies was working at a desk inside Labour HQ sometime during Sep-Oct 2004. And he used the computer at that desk for private purposes.

If it’s options 3, 4 or 5, then I think I can be excused for telling Gareth that he might want to shut up about the voter’s right to know where their information is coming from.

So, would anybody care to venture an alternative scenario? Is there a technical aspect I’m missing here?

Gareth? Would you care to explain why your IP address appears to match one coming from the Labour campaign team?

UPDATE – It’s Option No. 4, folks! Gareth is a Labour councillor *and* he’s employed by the Labour Party in a regional party call-centre. How this colours his argument that his main concern regarding BB is for democracy rather than for the Labour Party, I’ll leave up to you.

Posted in UK General Election 2005 | 12 Comments

UK sliding towards police state shock

I am amazed that this appeared in a Murdoch newspaper…

Simon Jenkins – Conspiring in torture, betraying our freedom. Charles Clarke is a disaster: Neither the Prime Minister nor the Home Secretary have shown any contrition for the deceptive Iraq intelligence dossiers. Now they are inviting the agencies which wrote them free rein to deprive British citizens of their freedom. The deprivation will be indefinitely renewable, as will the law itself.. And there is worse to come. The control orders will be based not just on British intelligence but also on American, which means from the interrogation camps of Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Last year the Court of Appeal gave a ruling of astonishing naivety. It allowed the Home Secretary to detain people without trial on the basis of intelligence gained overseas by torture, so long as British agents were not doing the torturing. Perhaps the court thought the idea hypothetical.


Bloggerheads readers from overseas can read this article in full here (cheers, Voidstar).

Please note that the author’s contact details appear under both versions of this article. I would urge you to get in touch with him today and say something positive. This man deserves to be encouraged.

Posted in The War on Stupid | 3 Comments

Girl with boobs has ‘opinion’ #342

Today, Page 3 lovely Peta (18, from Essex) backs Tony Blair’s call for Ken Livingstone to apologise over his ‘anti-Jewish’ remarks (Boris Johnson, BTW, has a slightly different view). She says: “I found his comments totally abhorrent. As Mayor of London he should be setting a good example. If he won’t apologise he should be forced to give up his leadership.”

Hmmm. Won’t apologise… should be forced to give up his leadership… that rings bells for some strange reason.

UPDATE – Ah, good. I’m not alone.

UPDATE – Ooh, look – there goes another one.

Posted in Page 3 - News in Briefs | 5 Comments