Posted by Tim Ireland at 19 November 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Specialist Speakers bill themselves as providers of “business, conference and celebrity speakers for all events” and claim their “enviable reputation” is due in part to a “vision of honesty and transparency” and a commitment to “high standards and ethics”.

They also make the following claim on the front page of their main website:

“Specialist Speakers will never fail you.” – (source)

Their main site is at, but in an endearingly inept attempt at search engine optimisation, they’ve started an external half-a-blog at and filled it with carefully-keyworded bios of some of the speakers they represent.

One of the speakers they represent is Iain Dale.

Iain Dale likes to pose as an authority on the subject of blogging in some quarters, but when people note his total ignorance/rejection of almost every aspect of it (with the notable exception of the art of self-promotion) he will say that he never claimed to be an ‘expert’.

(What Iain does cannot be fairly described as blogging, but is instead a reworked form of broadcasting; no genuine, self-respecting blogger would refuse, censor and manipulate comments in the way that Iain does. Also, Iain has no technical expertise; even when using a beginner-friendly format such as – a format that Dale has yet to grow out of – Dale struggles to find/use even the simplest of functions.)

When confronted about this apparent contradiction, Iain Dale had the following to say:

“I do not portray myself as an expert on blogging. If others think I know a lot about it and invite me to speak to them, it’s hardly a crime is it.” (source)

(Incidentally, Specialist Speakers list Iain Dale as a speaker in the categories on ‘Blogging’ and ‘Politics’, but that’s hardly a crime is it? Well, I would argue that it might well be if money changes hands, but the last time that subject came up, Dale dealt with the problem by banning me from making comments on his blog ‘forever’. He has not spoken of it since.)

Iain Dale also likes to claim that he has close to half a million readers a month, when the only semi-verifiable figure he can produce to support this is far, far lower than this.

(This is an old, old trick of Iain’s; he will gain a larger audience by claiming to have an enormous audience.)

So I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that Iain Dale’s ‘Specialist Speakers’ bio makes the following claim:

“Iain is Britain’s best recognised and leading political blogger with more than 300,000 regular readers a month” (source)

Now, it may seem like a single insignificant claim to some, but I happen to know that it’s one of Iain Dale’s favourite lies that just happens to appear in articles about him, even though he was called on it a long time ago.

So I called Specialist Speakers on the telling phone and I talked to Daniel Rix, owner and Managing Director of Specialist Speakers (listed here at LinkedIn and here on Iain Dale’s contact page).

After I introduced myself, I asked where this claim of 300,000 readers a month had come from. Daniel replied “most probably from Iain” (on the basis that his clients submit their own bios) and offered to find out and get back to me.

To make sure we were on the same page, I made it very clear who I was, why I was raising the matter, and that Iain Dale and I had a long-standing dispute that focused in part on his repeated false claims about everything from traffic figures to expertise.

I made it ab-so-lute-ly clear to Daniel Rix that the traffic claim was highly questionable and that I had proof that Iain had misrepresented/inflated his traffic figures in the past.

Nevertheless, Daniel recognised that all I wanted to know was where the claim had come from, and repeated his promise to get back to me with an answer to my question.

I asked for Daniel to get back to me by email instead of phone and sent him a follow-up email immediately afterwards, with the link to the errant data, my question about where it came from, and my contact details.

That was almost a month ago (27 October)… and despite two further follow-ups, that was the last I heard from Daniel.

Here I should explain Iain Dale’s policy for dealing with my attempts to call him to account for one lie or/after another; Iain will ‘ignore’ me… while calling me a stalker behind my back and publishing insults and false claims about me on his weblog (sometimes under his own name).

So when someone earnestly promises to get back to me and then suddenly decides to ignore my every email, I smell Dale’s stinky fingers at work.

Of course, I could be wrong about that, but just in case any further reminders via email were (yet again) dishonestly portrayed by Dale as the work of a stalker, I’ve decided to publicly remind Daniel Rix of his promise.

And so, here we are:

1. Iain Dale appears to be continuing his lies about the size of his readership. It’s a f**king con, and it’s not f**king on.

2. Currently, a bio promoting the services of Specialist Speakers (and Iain Dale as a speaker) contains at least one false claim. Daniel Rix, MD of Specialist Speakers, has failed to fulfil his promise to tell me where the false claim came from, and has not corrected the errant entry.

Perhaps (now) Daniel Rix will finally have something to say about that.

Over to you, Daniel.

Oh, and remember, folks:

“Specialist Speakers will never fail you.” – (source)


[Psst! On 24 Oct (more) and 27 Oct, an account in the name of Jeremy Jacobs was used to add a link to to Iain Dale’s Wikipedia page. That link was removed by another editor, twice, and classified as ‘linkspam’ (more). On 30 Oct, an SPA (single-purpose account) was used to again add a link to, and again this link was removed and classified as ‘linkspam’. On 02 Nov Iain Dale himself appeared and, ignoring the previous objections of an experienced editor again added a link to, and refused to engage in any discussion about the link. (Can you detect the subtle pattern in Iain’s general tactics here?) These repeated attempts to spam Wikipedia would appear to be part of what I describe above as “an endearingly inept attempt at organic search engine optimisation”… so on top of everything else, Specialist Speakers look to be involved in search engine spamming. Nice.]

UPDATE – As I was writing this, Iain Dale kindly offered expertise he doesn’t have to every MP in the land.

UPDATE (21 Nov) – I have my answer; the short version is that the data came from one of Iain’s bios that pre-dated Spinal Stats. The longer version will be with you shortly.

Posted by Tim Ireland at 18 November 2008

Category: Teh Interwebs

Register – BNP membership list leaks online: The British National Party has lost its membership list – the whole thing has been published online. The list includes names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of all members up to September 2008.

Lancaster Unity – Entire BNP membership list goes online: As if this isn’t bad enough, the notes that are attached to many of the entries leave a lot of the members open to difficulties in their jobs, some of them being in the armed forces or the police and the BNP too – an illegal combination, and where not illegal, frequently frowned upon. Other members are noted as construction managers, receptionists, district nurses, lay preachers, police officers, company directors and teachers among many others. Like this wasn’t enough, the BNP has also listed hobbies or interests where for some reason they are deemed relevant. Thus we have short-wave radio hams, amateur historians, pagans, line-dancers and even a witch (male).

Of course I know where to find the full list, but I can’t and shan’t be sharing it with you.

(Oh Dog of private data, why do you mock me so?)

Interestingly, the only person I know who claims to be a BNP member… isn’t actually a fully paid-up member.

I’m appalled.

UPDATE – Tampon Teabag – BNP RIP: Publishing the personal details of your political opponents for the convenience any passing psycho is a Red Watch tactic, and utterly irresponsible and contemptible.

Oh, *well* said.

[Did you catch that bit, Phil? How about you, Iain? You refused to publicly condemn Phil Hendren’s actions, *and* the actions of the Guildford Tories who actually sought to bring their target to the attention of Red Watch’s ‘nonce-watch’ army at one stage.]

UPDATE – For those who feel conflicted and would appreciate some low-fat guilt-free schadenfreude, I offer this:

BNP – Labour: 5000 families at risk of being attacked (7 Sep) : Once again, the Labour government is putting peoples’ lives at risk with its obvious incompetence to manage confidential data.

Posted by Tim Ireland at 18 November 2008

Category: Consume!

KFCI had one of those odd karmic moments this morning; it occurred to me for the nth time that in these glorious days of lost laptops and missing memory sticks, many items are left/discovered on trains, and perhaps when travelling to London on Waterloo-terminating trains, I shouldn’t be making a beeline straight for the Underground, but instead taking the time to have a quick stroll through the train, just to see if there’s anything interesting that’s been left behind.

After all, a habit* I picked up from my nightclub days has me seeing (and keeping!) more spare change than all of my kids combined; why not extend this into keeping a sharp eye out for lost and abandoned data on terminating trains?

[*Nightclubs are busy and dark, people are usually drunk, and they drop money everywhere. I don’t walk everywhere with my head down, but I do generally scan the area 5-6 steps ahead of me, and over time I’m become aware of typical ‘hot zones’ where people are more likely to shed cash. And I hate to brag, but the abilities I’ve inherited from my hunting and gathering ancestors include something approaching super-vision. Browsing through a mostly empty 10-12 carriage train should be a doddle, and I expect to meet the clean-up crew moving in the opposite direction about halfway through the job most days anyway.]

So this morning I tried it with a test scan through maybe half a dozen carriages and walked away with…. a free copy of The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Scum and The Times.

Oh well.

So, off to the Underground I went, a little disheartened and doubtful about my plan, until I saw what some twit had thrown on the litter pile at the top of the escalators; comprehensive (and current) product marketing documents for Yum!-owned fast food chain KFC (aka Kentucky Fried Chicken).

Hardly top-secret government data proving that David Icke was right about the Windsor Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Xikfagorrrr family being shape-shifting lizards after all, but the documents do contain the roll-out and marketing plans for several recent and current products/campaigns, including details such as sales forecasts, profit margins and marketing coverage.

(It probably won’t surprise you that KFC bases most of its TV expenditure on the ‘lifeboat’ principle; women and children first! Instead of wasting their breath on primitive ‘pester power’, children are now expected to express their ‘concern’ about poor old Mum and all that cooking and washing up she’s normally expected to do. The perfect solution is, of course, the Big Night In bucket of chicken. That’s not to say that KFC don’t have plans for the ‘sad loner eating at a trough’ market; the Boneless Banquet for One offers ample comfort to recently-divorced men living in bedsits, and the taste sensation of the Flavour Station offers a far safer type of variety than the one they were seeking when the now-former missus caught on to their ‘working late’ shenanigans.)

Now, before you get too excited, I need to point out that the documents do not contain details of the ‘famously’ ‘secret’ “multi-million dollar recipe” of 11 herbs and spices (which is, according to the book Big Secrets, a mix of “salt, pepper and MSG” and… erm, that’s about it).

But they do provide insight into the following new product, currently being tested in Scotland prior to its national launch in early 2009; KFC Paninis (or, as they are referred to throughout the main document; KFC Panini’s).

[MINI-UPDATE – I have just been informed that ‘panino’ is the name of this type of sandwich, and that and ‘panini’ is the plural of ‘panino’; therefore my mindless repeat of paninis is just as unforgivable as the sin of panini’s. I throw myself at the mercy of the International Court of Pedantry.]


KFC Paninis: their saucy secrets revealed!

As you can see from this b3ta chatter and this scan of KFC’s marketing material, the KFC Panini is branded as a “luxurious” item (a “gourmet sandwich” with a “classic Italian taste”) and there are two varieties; the Italian Chicken Panini and the Spicy Chicken Panini.

As you might expect from a chain with strict adherence to the formula of 11 herbs and spices salt, pepper and MSG for their chicken, the secret is in the sauce…. and here, exclusively on Bloggerheads, I am going to reveal the strict preparation guidelines for the sauces for both of these gourmet sandwiches:

Italian Chicken Panini

Below is a scan showing the preparation guidelines for the sauce in this “gourmet sandwich” with a “classic Italian taste”:

Secrets of the KFC Italian Panini revealed!

Spicy Chicken Panini

Below is a scan showing the preparation guidelines for the sauce in this “gourmet sandwich” with a “classic Italian taste”:

Secrets of the KFC Spicy Panini revealed!

(There is probably a reason why these details are secret, so don’t tell too many people, please.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at 17 November 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

GenderAnalyzer (no giggling at the back there) uses A.I. to determine if a blog is written by a man or a woman.

Here are the results of my own painstaking research:

Test #1: “We think is written by a man (68%).”
Test #2: “We think is written by a man (74%).”
Test #3: “We think is written by a man (69%).”
Test #4: “We think is written by a man (71%).”
Test #5: “We think is written by a woman (67%).”

Hm. Must be all that standing on stools and screaming at mice that goes on over there.

Posted by Tim Ireland at 17 November 2008

Category: Humanity

I hereby dedicate the following post to all of the people who are (presumably for the sake of variety) screaming “Hang ’em all!” in defence of children this week:

Barnardo’s children in trouble campaign – hunting film

Barnardo’s: About our campaign… help us break the cycle

Posted by Tim Ireland at 17 November 2008

Category: Humanity, Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!


Independent – Facebook vigilantes identify mother of Baby P: The identity of the 27-year-old mother of Baby P was last night being circulated on the internet with the names of her boyfriend and the third man convicted of causing the child’s death, after online vigilantes began a campaign calling for violent retribution against them. An order issued by the judge who oversaw the trial of the woman and her boyfriend forbids details about them, including their names, photographs and addresses, from being made public. But yesterday the information was listed on unofficial news websites and social networking sites… Another social networking site, Bebo, removed the mother’s profile page after abusive messages were posted, while her Friends Reunited profile was also being circulated. The difficulties of policing the internet were highlighted when the mother’s name briefly appeared in a discussion thread about Baby P hosted by The Sun. The information was removed.

Some slack reporting from the Independent here; they’re not to blame for accepting Bebo’s version of events (it was an outside complaint that prompted the removal of this profile, not an internal decision based on detection of abusive comments, as this paragraph suggests) but someone somewhere really should have pointed out that this information was initially spoon-fed to the public by the Times and the Sun, who carried near-to-identical paragraphs that mikkimoose fairly describes here as “the information that screams ‘google me'”.

(I can’t show you that information yet without doing the same thing, sorry.)

That Bebo profile was the first step on the easiest path to all names, and both of these Murdoch-owned newspapers pointed the way in flashing neon letters.

Someone should be called to account for that act, be it an accident or defiance of the law…. and both newspapers will want to be especially careful not to give the impression that it was the latter:

“We are still barred from identifying the defenceless tot further – or naming the mother and her sadistic lover who killed him.” – The Sun


Speaking of possible defiance of the law, the frequently-refreshed ‘libertarian’ Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) claims to stick to the letter of the law (when sober, at least), and also has a well-earned reputation for switching on Blogger’s comment-vetting function whenever he finds himself in personal difficulty… but in this case, he refused to switch it on until very recently, despite his keyword-rich emotionally-charged posts being a prime target for anonymous dickheads wishing to name names in clear violation of a court order.

When confronted about this last week, Staines claimed that he was too busy to check every link/comment – (so switch on registration or switch off comments if you can’t handle the volume, you dipstick!) – and actually had the temerity to blame the BBC at one stage for an article they had not been ordered to remove from their archives, that really only serves to do damage when someone links the present state of affairs to that archived article (i.e. the kind of crap that Staines has allowed under his comments many times in the past few days).

Quick-changing to ‘law-abiding citizen’ mode just long enough to hit the BBC with a stick, Staines then claimed that he had been in touch with the BBC, and that they refused to remove the article. He then invited me to pursue the matter myself, as if I wouldn’t do this. Just for laughs, I asked Staines to pass on the details of the person he had spoken to so I could, as he put it, take it from where he had left off. This request was ignored, most probably because Staines was making shit up again and didn’t have a damn thing to offer me.

When alerted to the repeated use of this archived article by online vigilantes, the BBC did finally remove it late on Friday.

By contrast, the thread under this post by Staines hosted at least three ‘outings’, and the most overt of these was live on Staines’ site for 16+ hours yesterday… but comment moderation was not switched on until late yesterday or early this morning.

[Staines also inadvertently revealed during our exchange that he does indeed make comments defending himself while pretending to be somebody else, but now is not the time.]


Paul Staines often doublespeaks himself out of difficulty and distances himself from material on his own website by claiming that ‘Guido Fawkes’ is a character, and his blog tabloid is written in the voice of that character.

Therefore, one must wonder if the outrage expressed here, here and here is based on genuine human emotion, or is instead of a bit of colour thrown in to enrich the character and land a few blows on Labour/Brown.


While touching (briefly) on the issue of people possibly playing party-politics (a charge that notorious ambulance-chaser Iain Dale denies), dare I ask if it’s entirely in keeping with a Conservative view to suggest that the state should decide who does and does not deserve to have children?

(And, while we’re here, how would such a ruling be enforced? Photo-ID cards? Bedside scanners? Genital cuffs? Sterilisation?)

Ellee Seymour hangs her half-baked case on a quote from this article from Jon Gaunt, where that stopped clock actually opens his article by saying; “…it must never happen again that we allow an elected and unelected metropolitan elite impose their warped views and social engineering on our country.”

Tim Montgomerie read that article and branded it as; “Another reason why more needs to be done to promote the two parent family and the marriage bond.”

Ellee read that article and Montgomerie’s post and concluded that perhaps it was time for us to allow an elected and unelected metropolitan elite to impose warped sensible views and social engineering.

May Dog preserve us from lightweight ‘bloggers’ with heavyweight demands.


For ‘bloggers’ and newspaper wage-slaves who may not be aware of what the word ‘moderation’ means, here is a definition:

Moderation (noun) – Avoidance of extremes of opinion, feeling, or personal conduct

Comment moderation most commonly involves the avoidance of extremes via deletion of extreme content and/or a quiet word off the record, or publication with a quiet word within the public conversation (that also serves as a warning to others). Very little of that is going on in newspaper websites, and none of it happened here, on the website of ‘leading blogger’ Paul Staines:

John Trenchard said…

bring back hanging… for the council fuckers who allowed this to happen.

as for the scumbags who actually did it – drawing, quartering and heads stuck on spikes would suffice for me.

of course , our political class will do none of this – and thus these baby murderers will get out , on good behaviour in about 7 years. (14 years “life” divided by the parole system)

November 11, 2008 11:01 PM

Of course, this particular ‘blogger’ is going to be blind to some extremes if he himself is expressing a desire for vigilante justice in the hands of “ordinary decent criminals”, but not even the left-loathing Staines would go so far as to suggest that this case justifies the death penalty for council/social workers… or would he?

(Sadly, there’s no telling; any action taken over this comment at this late stage could be a simple act of self-preservation, and there’s little that Staines says that can be trusted.)


The Sun, meanwhile, is hosting a petition that demands “ALL the social workers involved in the case of Baby P” be sacked and “never allowed to work with vulnerable children again”.

a) This may look a tad extreme on the face of things, until you consider that Wade is probably calling for a high body count in order to avoid a further calls for a genuine body count. Think of it as a form of methadone for the mob.

b) Not that this gets Wade off the hook for her ongoing failure to recognise how stupid some people can be, especially when crazed with child-preserving blood-thirst; 1, 2

c) A quick look at the petition shows that it’s not of the credible variety, in that it only asks for a name and location. Testing this morning showed that the petition accepted two submissions from ‘Mr Made-Up Name’ from the same IP address, even after it was closed.

[MINI-UPDATE – The Sun’s web petition is now back online. There is no indication/notice why or when it was taken offline and later returned to service (without visible changes).]

d) George Pascoe-Watson (political editor of the Sun newspaper), was interviewed on Radio 4 late yesterday, and was asked by the host if their coverage was as helpful as it could be. You might want to put that coffee down before you read his response:

“Now, let’s not get carried away with an anti-tabloid campaign!” – George Pascoe-Watson

e) The Sun claims that “over 225,000 caring Sun readers have signed our petition to bring the people responsible for the tragic death of Baby P to justice”. Far be it from me to repeat myself, but this does not take into account the Sun’s readership (3 million or so), which puts apparent support for their (easily diddled) petition at around 6% among their readers.

f) And for those who doubt that some Sun readers may have other views/concerns, I offer this….


After listening to George Pascoe-Watson enthuse on the subject of Sun readers, what they want, and how very important it is that they get it (now!), I popped by their website and noticed something under their ‘petition’ article.

Perhaps you can spot it, too…

Yep, according to the Sun’s own ‘most read stories’ data, this is what Sun-readers care most about, in order of reader-determined priority:

1. X Factor
2. Tits
3. Baby P
4. Sport
5. Tits

And today’s ‘most read stories’ table tells a similar story:

1. Funny pictures
2. Tits
3. Baby P
4. Sport
5. Tits

Oh dear… a consistent third place?

Somebody’s not thinking of the children.

Related bloggage:
Septicisle> – War on personal freedom, Baby P and weekend links
Liberal Conspiracy – Right wing confusion & bile over Baby P

Posted by Tim Ireland at 13 November 2008

Category: Old Media

Boris Watch – Mr Gilligan, I Presume?

Details! Evidence! Forensic analysis!

My goodness, we are spoiled.

And what does Mr Gilligan have to offer us?

Andrew Gilligan – King Ken or Baron Boris – all mayors need a challenge: The new media could be another answer, but isn’t yet. Several anti-Boris blogs now purport to “enhance the accountability of the mayoralty”. Alas, most read more like Private Eye parodies, daily finding new evidence of sinister neo-con evil in Johnson’s choice of breakfast cereal. Even the more measured ones simply copy stories from other media outlets (they all have a particular, and flattering, obsession with the Standard). Boris’s enemies in Nerdistan won’t do much damage until they learn the difference between investigative journalism and a Google search.

Ah. I see.

Did we all get that, then? Andrew Gilligan is superior to his accusers, in that he is a better writer and detective. Therefore, he must be innocent of anything they detect and above answering any questions they write.

That’s logic, that is. I know, because I once read a book about debating and stuff.

You may also note that he doesn’t link to or even name the site(s) he is criticising.

Oh, and the ‘obsessive’ tag, now standard with this kit.

Here’s what I submitted as a comment a few hours ago… it has yet to see the light of day:

Do you deny submitting comments to some of these blogs while pretending to be someone else? Because that’s the issue that’s prompted your outburst about them, I’m sure.

(Just in case your memory is going: the issue you fail to mention in this article is the same one that you got a jolly good ribbing about from your contemporaries this past week.)

The Tory Troll has more.

(Pfft! ‘Nerdistan’. Andrew Gilligan is now officially a wanker.)

UPDATE – Boris Watch is keeping track of comments not published by moderators under Mr Gilligan’s playground taunts. Submit your own failed submissions here.

Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 November 2008

Category: Christ...

Is anyone else watching Saving Africa’s Witch Children?

What little we saw of Uma Eke had me in tears.

How can people do this to each other? How can people profit from this, knowing the misery they cause?

Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 November 2008

Category: Geekage

Via Gary Andrews:

RWW – Google Flu Trends: A Glimpse into the Future of Google Health: It stands to reason that people who are “starting to come down with something” often take the opportunity to search for information on what ails them, even before they discuss their symptoms with a healthcare professional. Who gets more of those searches than anyone? Google, of course. When Google started looking more closely at anonymous aggregate searches for “flu symptoms” and the like, they discovered that – after cross-referencing that data against information from the Center for Disease Control – they had the ability to predict flu outbreaks by monitoring search patterns. And now, they’ve published their findings as Google Flu Trends.


When will the UK version be ready?

How soon before we’re tracking specific outbreaks of STIs and the like?

(Seeing as you’re probably already giggling, I’ll ask you to imagine an STI report just after the weather; “… and visitors to Kent should be aware that there’s a higher-than-normal likelihood of herpes this afternoon, with chances of scattered syphilis.”)

UPDATE – When will the UK version be ready? Tom has an update on that.

(I asked Tom about the flying cars thing while I was there, but he wasn’t having any of it. Still, we have this, which I’m dying to [pun] road test [/pun] myself.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at 12 November 2008

Category: Old Media

Excuse me while I carefully talk around something; I need to warn you about a small problem without using certain keywords for reasons that will be obvious in a few moments…

A tragic death is in the news, a political football is in play, a mob is gathering, and several people cannot be named for legal reasons; it is not clear what those reasons are specifically, but the names weren’t a big secret until very recently, so it probably has something to do with further court proceedings (that anyone with genuine interest in justice wouldn’t want to compromise).

But now, thanks to the good work of the wage-slaves of Rupert Murdoch, widely-distributed articles exist that give anyone with basic knowledge of search engines the means to discover the name of every individual involved within seconds.

At least one ‘blogger’ you should be familiar with (and who should know better) today published information from some cretin that helpfully highlighted the Murdoch-published data and specified on which site the first name could be found; that site just happens to offer kindergarten-level 2.0 tools, so anybody who found the relevant page could leave a comment (yes, these had already started to appear) and look up details of people who had earlier signed up as ‘friends’ of this unnamed person.

I’ve sent an email to the relevant provider, and that profile has now been removed.

Fingers crossed that it ends there, and not with a brick through some innocent person’s window.

UPDATE – The data published by a ‘blogger’ who should know better has now been removed.

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