Eight(ish) items about Derek Draper and Paul Staines

1. The Draper ‘Downfall’ video comes to us anonymously. It a situation like this, I suspect sock-puppetry. The video gets no linky-love from me.

2. Given Draper’s wider antics and the excuse he provides for his use of the term “window lickers”…

Derek Draper – Apologies and regrets over the use of a derogatory term: At that point I thought the phrase meant someone looking in a window, like a kid at a candyshop, wishing they were inside.

… I thought you might be interested in this article from 2005:

Guardian – The lady and the scamp: Looking back on his “idiot years” now, after seven years of therapy – the last three in daily analysis – he attributes the self-destructive impulses to an unconscious need to get out of politics. “I believe now, as a psychotherapist, that most of what we do is motivated by the unconscious. And I think slowly, over a period of time, not being at the centre of power but having my face pressed up against the shop window, I’d unconsciously decided I didn’t really like what I saw. But it was very hard for me to recognise, because it was all I’d wanted to do since the age of 11.”

That article is linked prominently from Draper’s Wikipedia page, so the connection with that excuse could be coincidence, a product of the subconscious, or a lovely bit of weaselling.

3. Draper put himself in a position where he had to apologise for use of the word that Paul Staines throws about without a care in the world. He’s a fool, on top of everything else.

4. Paul Staines got in touch today to (finally) help with the ongoing uncertainty about his bankruptcy. He claimed (in a lofty, dismissive and contemptuous manner one normally expects from a bloody politician) that he was fully discharged from bankruptcy on 23 December, 2005, and that this is a matter of public record.

a) Pity nobody told these people about it.

b) We still only have Paul’s word for this. He refused to produce anything to back it up. The sniffy bastard.

c) He seemed so put out that I would dare to ask questions about it. FFS, his grand plan involves a two-bit banner-advertising network exclusive to political weblogs. WTF did he think would happen? Did he seriously think no-one would ask any questions, or does he still live in that fantasy world where everybody has to be held accountable except for him and his mates?

d) Anyone might think from his reaction that Paul doesn’t subject people to far worse treatment on the basis of even less evidence every damn day on his Guido Fawkes non-blog.

e) Staines even uses his anonymous free-for-all comments system to help baseless rumours evolve into ‘open secrets’. And he’s moaning because I’ve got some questions based on hard evidence? Forget him.

5. I’ve been thinking about it, and I can’t for the life of me work out how exactly a key member of a two-bit banner advertising network expects to benefit from a regularly-risky widely-damaging comments free-for-all that is constantly refreshed… in more ways than one. Unless it’s a matter of profit before principle/politics, of course; then it makes perfect sense.

6. I’ve noted elsewhere and wish to repeat here that Paul Staines appeared online earlier than 2005, failed miserably in his attempt to gain a worthwhile audience, and returned with a new identity. In short, he has such a boring and unpleasant personality that he had to invent a new one for his website. So far, people prefer Paul Staines’ invented personality to Derek Draper’s real one, but some might argue that this doesn’t make for a fair fight. Paul has had far more time to perfect his spin, smear, comment manipulation and censorship techniques, too.

7. Do take some time to think about how much Paul Staines and Derek Draper have in common, because there’s a lot; the early career-ending mistake, reinvention, crawling back into politics by faking it as a blogger, the endless cheating under comments, selective faux-outrage, a multi-faceted resemblance to David Brent… Staines even insisted today that he more than anyone was above scrutiny. I had to check the ‘From’ field to make sure I wasn’t getting my meatheads mixed up.

8. Finally, to close, a quick note about Derek Draper’s funding*; he’s New Labour, used to write for the Express newspaper, had his wedding snaps featured in OK! magazine, (reportedly) isn’t averse to a little adult-oriented entertainment… if anyone’s drawing up a list of possible LabourList backers, you might want to add the name Richard Desmond. Just a thought.

(*Paul Staines assures us that he’s had no secret backers. Ev-ah. He just magically emerged from a financial black hole with the capacity to blog pretty much full-time… and that seems a reasonable enough claim to me.)

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 17 Comments

Alex Hilton = Derek Draper

Got any doubts about that equation?

Well, we’ve all watched Derek Draper’s manufactured outrage about words used or ‘defended’ by Iain Dale and Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’)… now I invite you to watch Alex Hilton playing the very same game.

Alex is reacting here to my calling Paul Staines a ‘pussy’ in an earlier email. He’s talked himself into a hole on one of his own damn websites (latest here), and is either ignoring me or attacking me, depending on if he thinks he has the upper hand at any given moment. On this occasion, he clearly thinks he has the upper hand because he is speaking to me:

—– Original Message —–
From: Alexander Hilton
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Guido Fawkes; Jag Singh
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: For the record


The use of the word “pussy” in this context is both mysogynistic and frankly offensive.

Too often women’s body parts are used as a term of abuse which simply adds to the commodification of their sex.

But hang on a moment – I don’t actually believe you are a mysogynist, you seem merely to have had a lapse of political correctness on this occasion.

Not to worry


I’ll happily admit that Alex might have some pudding here… somewhere among all those eggs. I love the casual sign-off, especially. He makes a big deal about a little nothing – after announcing that he won’t be emailing me any more, I might add – and then ends with a casual ‘not to worry’.

So he’s outraged, but he’s not, but he is, but he’s not. This is not 100 miles from his position on asking people what they think (and please note that I’m paraphrasing here):

Tell me what you think. No, tell me what you think based on what I claim, not on what you know. Or what I told you. Or what you think about that. Yes, that’s it; tell me what you think, but don’t think. Hang on… what exactly are you driving at? Why are you being so mean to me? That’s it; I’m ignoring you!

(Psst! Alex’s invitation to publish our private correspondence on this topic is here, BTW. I sent an email to him almost two hours ago announcing my intention to publish on my website, but it looks like he’s ignoring me again… until the next time, when he won’t be. But he will be, but he won’t be. Oh, and I should point out in the spirit of disclosure that in that same email I called Paul Staines “a pathetic, sock-puppeting fallopian tube” and I bloody well meant it. Sorry, ladies.)

UPDATE (18 Feb) – It’s just past midday. The two posts that Alex started about this on LabourHome (and subsequently every comment underneath those posts) have been deleted/withdrawn without explanation. This is what we bloggers call ‘retro-moderation’. Why does Alex want to hide this all of a sudden? He seemed awfully keen to wave it about until a few minutes ago. Are the secret ‘threats’ now so secret that even Alex won’t talk about them?

URLs of deleted threads:



Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

Alex Hilton, secret ‘threats’ and MessageSpace

All of the anger generated over Alex Hiltons claims that he was confronted with secret threats rests on the dual assumption (a) that Derek Draper made the call, and (b) that Hilton is being 100% honest with us/himself about what was said and how it was put.

Whoever is talking to Hilton has a point (stay with me…) up to the point where Hilton’s association with Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) might damage his relationship with other Labour members, or the members of any semi-responsible political group, come to think of it.

If they’re saying what Hilton is claiming and making secret threats about deliberately tagging Hilton with Staines’ popular brand of casual racism (1, 2), then that’s not on, but I’ve come to expect misrepresentation from Hilton’s quarter.

Hilton could have been issued with a warning that such association would happen naturally and without interference or effort; that’s a warning that could easily be passed off as a threat.

That, and Hilton often starts calling people ‘comrade’ when he’s laying it on thick.

I’m not saying that this is the way it’s happened, but it’s a bloody likely possibility from where I’m standing.

A lot depends on who made the call. Draper, I’d expect such threats from, especially after his over-reaching attach-a-word attacks on Dale and Staines and his finger-jabbing attack on Hencke.

But if almost anyone else made the phone call, I’d have serious doubts about Hilton’s claim. That I’m not able to hear the context of what was said forces me to make that judgement call, and Hilton is one of the people in this world that I trust the least.

Why? Well, one reason is the secret and none-too-subtle ‘I/we will ruin you’ threats sent my way from… MessageSpace.

Once, after I blogged about MessageSpace, a threat of legal action was issued from their office building by Paul Staines, who MessageSpace later claimed; “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been.”

All of these threats were marked PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL and I was advised that revealing any details and not caving immediately could cost me big time. I was also ordered (yes, ordered) to apologise, hire a lawyer or provide an address (more).

Meanwhile, I was receiving all sorts of nicey-nice reassurances from Jag Singh. On the condition that these remain secret, too.

Alex was dismissive and disingenuous about it, the only saving grace being that he was publicly dismissive and disingenuous about it:

“This article is the first time I have heard of Guido suing Tim. What for? I don’t know and can’t really be bothered to look into it. “

Meanwhile, I was being threatened by a man based in their office over an article I wrote about their company. I hate to be ungracious about it all, but fuck them, and fuck MessageSpace.

And you know what? It strikes me that the best way for Alex to get everyone onside is to have everyone think that poster-boy-for-tosspots Derek Draper is somehow connected to this call he bases his claims on.

To close, let me be ab-so-lute-ly clear on my central point:

I don’t entirely trust Alex Hilton’s claims about this. I don’t entirely trust Jag Singh’s claims about this.

That position is only likely to change if someone I trust less turns out to be behind these calls…. and there are very few people I trust less than the men behind MessageSpace.

That goes especially for the coward, liar and bully who “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been”.

For more, click here.

UPDATE (18 Feb) – It’s just past midday. The two posts that Alex started about this on LabourHome (and subsequently every comment underneath those posts) have been deleted/withdrawn without explanation. This is what we bloggers call ‘retro-moderation’. Why does Alex want to hide this all of a sudden? He seemed awfully keen to wave it about until a few minutes ago. Are the secret ‘threats’ now so secret that even Alex won’t talk about them?

URLs of deleted threads:



Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 8 Comments

Googlebombing YouTube

[Note – A Googlebomb is something that (a) typically involves Google, and (b) making something that has no textual relevance to a keyword or keywords respond to that query regardless of this by external influence (typically, linking to a target page using those same keywords).]

I found out recently, quite by accident, that it is possible to Googlebomb YouTube.

Syndication and/or the reputation/maturity of bloggerheads.com may be a factor here, but from where I’m sitting only a single link in a single post is needed.

I found out about this after I linked to this ‘Ninja Cat Fail’ video in this post, using that nice Mr Draper’s name in the linked description. The next day, I was looking for a clip of the man, recognised the 2nd-to-top result (screengrab), and realised immediately that I alone had artificially/externally provided the only ‘relevance’ to this query.

– Rather than keep this YouTube glitch to myself (and maybe slap a fancy name on it and sell it as a ‘viral marketing’ service like some people I could mention) I thought it might be better to point it out in a very public fashion so it can get fixed.

– Speaking as someone who has been maliciously impersonated on Blogger and advised by Google that I should email myself in an attempt to reach the person pretending to be me, I can say with some confidence that simply emailing Google is likely to be a futile gesture.

– So I propose that we overtly play with the glitch until Google wakes up and fixes it.


Yes, I said ‘we’, white man window licker comrade.

Here’s how easy it is; I linked to a video when using the name of not-very-good-lawyer Donal Blaney today, and within 12 hours, YouTube presented a far more amusing top search result for his name:

I really liked the way this one looked; the Simpsons’ colours are bright and immediately recognisable, as are most of the characters in that series… so here is the approach pattern I’m prescribing for this little project, if you want to join in:



1. Choose a personality (or even a nobody/wannabe) from the world of British media, politics or blogging

2. Link to a fitting YouTube-hosted Simpsons clip with their name

– like this… Nadine Dorries

– or like this… Alex Hilton

3. Tell your friends!

4. Check in as soon as you have a result.


[Psst! I was going to include myself in this post, but couldn’t find the clip of Ned Flanders berating Lisa Simpson for being “Springfield’s answer to the question nobody asked.” Ditto for Phil Hendren, but I couldn’t find a clip of Comic Book Guy retreating to his store “where I dispense the insults rather than absorb them”.]

Posted in Search Engine Optimisation | 4 Comments

Torture: those lying, torturing, mother-forgetting scoundrels

Guardian – Miliband faces new ‘torture cover-up’ storm: David Miliband, the foreign secretary, was last night facing fresh pressure over torture allegations after it was revealed that his officials asked the US for help in suppressing crucial evidence. The Foreign Office solicited a letter from the US to back up its claim that if the evidence was disclosed, Washington could stop sharing intelligence with Britain. (via)

They went looking for an excuse to claim to be powerless.


Note also that they asked the previous U.S. administration for this and then tried to give the impression that it was the (unsolicited) position of the new administration.

See also:
Bloggerheads – Jack Straw, Tony Blair, and the ‘truth’ about torture
Bloggerheads – Jack Straw is a lying weasel (and other facts about torture)
Bloggerheads – More lies about torture

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

Roger Alton: why I’ve lost faith in The Independent

Hi folks. I plan on chatting with you about the credibility of old and new media this week. Please bear with me…

(Psst! Or, if it’s more to your speed, perhaps instead check out Sim-O on The Sun and their defence of their reporting on Baby P or, if you can stomach the bile, have a laugh at Donal Blaney attacking Derek Draper over his use of the term ‘window lickers’ when Blaney’s client* Paul Staines is the man most deserving of his criticism, and all Draper is guilty of is outstanding ignorance and a desperation to be part of the ‘in’ crowd.)

[*I say ‘client’, even though there’s a very good chance that the ‘fee’ in this case was a couple of bottles of wine.]

… even if it seems at first that we are going over old ground:

Iain Dale has a self-penned bio that he puts about, and it contains a number of claims that may or may not be true. When this results in a newspaper or broadcaster making a claim that definitely is not true, Iain is fond of claiming that this is something beyond his control (presumably on the basis that his bio is open to interpretation… so when someone takes it at face value, it isn’t entirely his fault).

One claim that definitely isn’t true that was in Iain Dale’s distributed bio until very recently is the claim that Iain Dale has 300,000 to 350,000 readers every month.

This claim was distributed by Iain and repeated in a number of places long after it was revealed that Iain was, at the very least, a little bit confused about the difference between a ‘visit’ and a ‘visitor’ (more).

That claim also (somehow) found its way into this puff-piece in The Independent.

Iain later claimed that (a) this was an error, and (b) not his fault.

But this figure matched the bio claim so very closely, and Iain has been known to be less than forthcoming with the truth, so I emailed the author of the puff-piece (Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor of The Independent) and asked how he arrived at the “350,000 readers every month” figure in his article.

There was no answer, so I chased.

It was conference season, I was told. Nigel was busy.

So I waited. Later, I sent a follow-up email or two. But still there was no answer.

A month passed.

Without. So. Much. As. The. Courtesy. Of. A. Reply.

I get this from associates of Iain sometimes – even the loose ones – so I gave up chasing the monkey and emailed his organ-grinder; Roger Alton, the recently-appointed Editor of The Independent

In that email, I pointed out the following:

– The Independent had published (and was still broadcasting) a ridiculously overstated claim
– The most likely source of that figure was known for (ahem) some confusion on this front
– The most likely source of this figure was also acknowledging it was false, but blaming this on a mistake by The Independent

I also repeated my question about the origin of the claim/figure.

Roger Alton took a look at this, and my surprise at being ignored for four weeks, and described me as ‘fixated’.

He then went on to say that the ridiculously overstated claim meant very little to him because his own website received far too many visitors for a figure/error of this size to be significant to him.

The question about where the figure came from was entirely ignored.

I’ll let my response at this stage of proceedings speak for itself:

It seems like such a small thing; you would think that answering a small question about it would be no bother.

And yet here I am, a month later, really quite annoyed that I have to take it to this level just to have you ask why I bother.

Thanks for that, by the way.

So is it seriously your position that numbers that seem inconsequential to you personally will be allowed to stand uncorrected (and not even investigated) in your publication, no matter how incorrect they may be?

I ask because my trust in the Independent has been seriously shaken by the failure to address a really quite straightforward question and your reply has taken me quite by surprise.

I dread to think what would happen if you got your figures wrong on an article about the minimum wage, for example, and delivered this as your response.

Tim Ireland

(PS – Bloggers with integrity take readership figures quite seriously; just as seriously as you do circulation figures. I am sure that you would have something to say about another newspaper vastly inflating their circulation estimates, not least because such behaviour undermines trust in all figures, including your own.)

Roger Alton skipped over all of these points and responded with an email suggesting that I “write a letter to the editor”…!

That was over three months ago, and I haven’t bought a copy of The Independent since.

I was a regular reader, buyer and supporter of that newspaper for a decade prior to this, and must admit to initially having some reservations about the measure, but I felt more than a little vindicated when the ‘grooming’ spin on Damian Green’s arrest emerged, and The Independent led on it.

I may return to the paper once Nigel Morris and Roger Alton have moved on, or there are other signs of improvement or renewal, but until then, they’ll not get a penny from me.

UPDATE – The article in question used to carry a series of comments underneath. Those comments have now been retro-moderated out of existence. It looks like The Independent, like most other newspapers, can’t be trusted to maintain an honest comments facility, either… but for further comment on that subject from moi, you’ll have to wait until later in the week.

UPDATE – It surprises me not at all that a selective listener like Roger Alton supported the invasion of Iraq.

Posted in Old Media | 17 Comments

The Fix

George Monbiot – Just what exactly do you stand for, Hazel Blears – except election?: Fixes like this might give you some clues about why more people are not taking part in politics. I believe there is a vast public appetite for re-engagement, but your government, aware of the electoral consequences, has shut us out… You create an impenetrable political monoculture, then moan that people don’t engage in politics. It is precisely because I can picture something better that I have become such a cynical old git.

Also, via Paulie, an item about those who – I’ll put this delicately – attempt to play out-do the government at their own game.

Polis – Clay Shirky: online group action lacks legitimacy: Shirky thinks this is now the biggest issue facing online public activism: legitimacy. It is simply too easy to campaign or lobby online. There needs to be ways of creating or measuring the legitimacy of online political actions that go beyond how many people click on a website.

And here’s one good reason why this matters.

Another? Well, we’ve all watched the quality of old media spiralling downward. Almost anyone nowadays can get their opinion in print or their face on telly by claiming to be an expert or the leader of a movement*.

(*see: bowels)

Back soon, folks. I’m travelling to the continent to recharge my psychic energies… and gather my imaginary army.

Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Epic win: Christian Bale Vs. David after the dentist

By now most of you will have heard Christian Bale’s rant (plus a few remixes) and seen David after his visit to the dentist (plus a few remixes)… now prepare yourselves for a sweary trip to YouTube heaven (NSFW audio, obviously):

Posted in Video | 4 Comments

Jeremy Reynalds forgot to declare an interest

Jeremy Reynalds is an interesting man whose mind works in interesting ways.

Take, for example, his reaction to the Abu Ghraib scandal; which *so* obviously raised questions about homosexuals in the military and the way CBS conduct themselves.

So when he is presented with evidence that Glen Jenvey posed as an extremist on Ummah.com, we should not be surprised that he asks questions about the way Ummah.com conduct themselves, and we should count ourselves lucky that he’s not speculating about their sexuality:

Jeremy Reynalds – Large Islamic Website Still Carries Material Advocating Destruction of Israel Ummah forum administrators posted a vocal defense of their site (www.ummah.com/forum/showthread.php?t=197121), headlined “Ummah forum detest today’s misleading article in ‘The Sun,'” and alleged that Abuislam is really Jenvey, claiming confirmation from his IP and email addresses. In an e-mailed statement, Jenvey denied being Abu Islam, adding that some inflammatory posts formerly on the site have now been either removed or manipulated to the forum administrators’ advantage. He said, “Over the years I have monitored both www.ummah.net and www.ummah.com and their chat rooms. I know they hate me enough to try and discredit me.” (via)

That’s not much of a denial, and I reject it for two main reasons:

1) That Ummah.com alone/initially declared a direct link between ‘abuislam’ and Glen Jenvey is a false premise; Ummah.com declared a link between ‘abuislam’ and a post by ‘Richard Tims’. The link between ‘Richard Tims’ and Glen Jenvey was later revealed at Bloggerheads, and involved otherwise-innocuous spam submitted some 6+ months previous to multiple websites, including the website of a close ally of Jenvey’s.

2) If Jenvey is claiming or suggesting that he’s the victim of a set-up, he’ll have to do better than establish possible motive. As Richard Bartholomew points out here; “Rather more is required than simply asserting (or even proving) that Ummah.com is run by bad people.” (more)

But the main point I wish to raise in this post involves declarations of interest.

Right toward the end of the article, there’s a passage where Jeremy Reynalds refers to “Jenvey and former colleague Johnathan Galt”, but there is no mention at all of any past or present relationship Jeremy Reynalds might have with Glen Jenvey. In fact, that sentence could be read to mean that it is Jenvey and Galt who are former colleagues (i.e. connected professionally to each other and not to Reynalds).

There are many ways that Glen Jenvey and Jeremy Reynalds (and Jonathan Galt) have intersected online, but in an effort to convince Mr Reynalds to take a closer look at the evidence linking ‘Richard Tims’ to Glen Jenvey, I have decided to use the following single example, that also includes a heck of a lot of spam:

Over the weekend, D-Notice kindly got the ball rolling on a Wikipedia investigation into the PCCLIES sock puppet, which led me to browse through Wikipedia edits made under Glen Jenvey’s old profile.

When doing so, I noticed that Glen Jenvey had link-spammed Wikipedia to promote Jeremy Reynalds’ (now out of print) book War of the Web: Fighting the Online Jihad, here on this page about Islam.

Oh, and here on this page about Islamic terrorism, here on this page about the Tamil Tigers, here on this page about Al Qaeda, here on this page about Abu Hamza, here on this page about Hizb ut-Tahrir, here on this page about Osama Bin Laden, here on this page about ‘espionage’, , here on this page about the PLO, here on this page about Terrorism, here on this page about Cyberterrorism, here on this page about the September 11 attacks, and, quite hilariously, here on this page about ‘bestsellers’.

[Note – Jenvey made several attempts to spam some entries, most persistently on the entry for Al Qaeda. Many of these spam entries include crimes against the apostrophe that have since become Jenvey’s trademark, and though the relevant ‘talk’ page was deleted a long time ago, it’s a fair bet that this activity led to him being banned or flagged as a spammer, and subsequently starting one or more replacement accounts to edit his own entry, promote his websites at glen-jenvey.com, abuhamza.org.uk & sellyourstory.org, plug the literary works of Jeremy Reynalds, and/or ‘set the record straight’ on his relationship with the FBI. There’s one hell of a vapour trail waiting to be uncovered, by the looks of things. If I find myself with a spare hour or two I may go browsing again later.]

I will remind readers again that this is only one visible way in which Glen Jenvey and Jeremy Reynalds have intersected online.

If there is a past, present, personal and/or professional link between Jeremy Reynalds and Glen Jenvey, then Reynalds should have declared it in his article… even if only to claim that Jenvey is merely one of his biggest fans.

After all, Reynalds is a CEO and he has a master’s degree in communication; he should know what a conflict of interest is.

PS – Link-spamming the entry for the 7 July 2005 London bombings was a class act… but I’m sure Jenvey was thinking of the victims in his own special way when he did it.

Posted in Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement | 16 Comments

Carol Thatcher: weblogs, frogs and golliwogs

The Times – Carol Thatcher’s golliwog remarks ‘made eyes roll in the green room’: Thatcher, who had been drinking, her spokeswoman admitted, is alleged to have referred to “the golliwog frog”, thought to be a reference to the French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has a white French mother and a black Congolese father. As some rolled their eyes and others challenged Thatcher about her use of the word, she is said to have responded, “well, he’s half-golliwog”, prompting Brand to leave the room in disgust.

1. Carol Thatcher just ran out of wiggle-room. I don’t care what was on her damn jam jars while she was clearly failing to grow up, she needs to be pulled up on this to some extent (while stopping short, one would hope, of burning the poor dear at the stake).

2. Derek Draper’s dishonest attack on Iain Dale has blinded a few people to Dale’s bad habit of vouching for people on the basis of what he assumes/asserts took place at an event that he himself did not witness. Compare his certainty that Carol Thatcher did not use/mean the word ‘golliwog’ in a bad way to his certainty that police questioning Damian Green did use/mean the word ‘grooming’ word in a bad way. Dale is a Tory propagandist, and people should stop expecting objectivity from his corner.

Posted in Tolerance | 5 Comments