21st May 2011
The following is an extract from a talk I have just given at OpenTech. I’ll put some audio and vision of the complete talk together shortly. The tag for discussion on twitter is #outpost.
… Some MPs get up to a lot of questionable stuff that simply isn’t recorded or reported anywhere. In fact, a significant information vacuum exists around many serving members of Parliament.
In the current Parliament there are 650 MPs, many of them are not adequately covered in the Information Universe, and some of them are actually sources of poor if not entirely false information.
I propose that a group of like-minded publishers research, evaluate and then selectively populate this information vacuum using a series of purpose-built MP-specific websites – or “space stations” – supported by a loosely networked group of independent publishers, in small teams of two or more.
I further propose that we use as a foundation for each project a bi-monthly report on that MP’s expenses; data that is available through the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority website, but not widely or reliably visible in the Information Universe. These screen captures display how this published expenses data is invisible to search engines; a search for one MP by name on the one site that IS partly indexable only turns up single passing mention, and no expenses data.
It would be foolish to expect anything but a handful of visitors to most sites of this type, but once you publish this particular data and make it more visible, the website only really needs an audience of one person to be of any relevance; the MP themselves.
There will be no need to chase or capture a constant audience by populating the sites with churnalism and/or mere opinion, but they can easily expand into some occasional fact-checking about what is reported about or published by that MP; crucially, only when there is a need. In this way, the demands of the individual sites are kept to a minimum, and speciality skills (writing, analysis, research, data crunching) can be shared across the network according to demand.
And, ultimately, you will be competing for relevance for a single name, not a series of names or a party name or politics generally. For most backbenchers, the only time you are likely to be crowded out of the top ten is when your adopted MP is finally getting some mainstream coverage. Here, we see The Nadine Dorries Project displaced to 8th place by all of the fuss about her latest poorly disguised campaign on behalf of religious fundamentalists. Normally it ticks along in third place, just as it is doing in Yahoo today.
Also, over time, because each publishing body attracts traffic specific to a single MP, people with an interest in this MP will eventually begin to feed it new information based on their own experiences, research etc., and this process remains entirely sustainable long before you approach anything like some of the sillier visitor claims that people have been throwing around. So long as that site is accumulating sufficient relevance to command high search results for that MP’s name and associated queries, starting with expenses, it is playing a valuable role, and requires minimum upkeep.
That said, if you do plan to confront your own MP with anything of substance, please be warned that it can lead to a situation where you are effectively cut off from local politics as a result, and not in a position where you can lobby your MP. The project I describe shouldn’t cost any money, but this can be a hell of a price to pay. I’m not just talking about myself here; the organisers of a certain hustings at Flit-ick were accused by Dorries of being part of a conspiracy against her, and she refused to engage with their group as a result.
For this reason I think potential participants should seriously consider targeting an MP other than their own, even if it does leads to cries of “they’re not even a CONSTITUENT!’
On that note, I would wish to remind you good people that taking on liars is not for the faint-hearted. You often get lied about as a result. You may even get smeared as a stalker. I Am Not A Lawyer, but I can tell you from experience that the law does not regard scrutinising an MP to be stalking or even harassment. However, you will appreciate having team-mates and a wider support network should this false accusation or any other be used against you in response to valid and fair scrutiny.
Also, if you have any interest in media watching at all, you will have noticed by now that MPs with an agenda often serve as hot spots for bullshit, as they are often the origin of lies, if not the source of ill-informed opinions used to sell or perpetuate them.
This information vacuum is a largely unexplored and poorly exploited region on the frontier, it is in the public interest that we have someone manning it, and it has a glorious sweet spot for those in the know; a place where many small publishers can have a significant impact on politics with very little effort, without surrendering their independence, and without falling into the old pattern of surrendering to gas giants and the passing garbage they attract.
In my opinion, pursuit of a mass audience is a fallacy, a false ideal for bloggers that discourages many talented publishers from fulfilling their true potential. If you are reaching any of your target audience, you shouldn’t have to worry about your audience size any more than boys should worry about penis size, PLUS I have just given you a short manual on knowing how to use it.
There it is. That’s my thought. It’s for you to determine how relevant it is.
If you’d like to chat about it on Twitter in coming days, the call to action from this talk will be live on my blog shortly and the tag for discussion is #outpost.
I look forward to manning the frontier with you. Thanks for your time.
Related link: Dave Cross – Watching the Press – Notes
18th May 2011
No names, but at about the time I was passing through one of a series of lessons in sex education, we had a teacher with a conservative outlook who not only choked on simple words associated with the act of sex, but also had an annoying habit of not-quite-answering one question before swiftly moving on to the next; just as his answer got to the tricky part with the ‘dirty’ bits, he would trail off and then pretend to be distracted by another child with their hand raised, only to half-answer their query and so on.
One day, the girls departed for a gender-specific film and associated lesson on topics that are easy enough to guess at, and the boys were left unsupervised, with a generic film about hygiene to serve as the only distraction.
Collusion was afoot. When the teacher returned to check up on us at the end of the film, he was faced with a question he was not expecting:
Student #1: “Mr _____, do you have a bone in your dick?”
‘Teacher’: “Oh! Erm, the PENIS, I think you will find, has absolutely no bones, but rather a mass of… erm.. erectile tissue that… when engorg…* (to Student #2) yes, you had a question?”
Student #2: “Then why is mine hard right now?”
All Students: (laughter)
That’s how we mucked up in my day, by the way. Totally rock’n'roll. I was lucky I turned my life around before I ended up on the streets. Anyway, the point is; some mockery from boys attending ex education class may arise from their frustration with the prudishness of the teacher, and possibly the curriculum.
I can’t pretend this applies in every instance, obviously. It would be wrong of me to do this based on a single anecdote populated by unnamed people.
[Boys! You may not have a bone in your penis, but lots of mammals do. An erection in humans is the result of blood pumping into two cylindrical sponge-like regions running along its length. And riding on buses.]
16th May 2011
Let’s begin by giving Nadine Dorries the benefit of the doubt to the extent of assuming (a) at some stage she actually believed material published by me amounted to harassment, and (b) she was foolish enough to believe anything said by Iain Dale or Dominic Wightman on this subject.
Bedfordshire Police have looked at everything I have blogged and tweeted and videoed about Nadine Dorries. There’s quite a lot more of it now than there was back when blogging ‘expert’ Iain Dale first described it as my “stalking” the woman, but Bedfordshire Police have looked at it even at its current level and they do not regard it to be stalking (especially as it involves no form of physical pursuit), and they do not regard it to be harassment, plus they have not seen anything in it that I might need to be warned about. Iain Dale dares to imply otherwise, for reasons that are easily guessed at.
I’m likely to go into the specifics of Dorries’ complaint about the Flitwick event in a later post (especially if she attempts to rest a charge of stalking on her interpretation of that event), but for this post it is mainly relevant that Dorries followed up on an initial July 2010 letter about the Flitwick event by presenting to police a series of passages from articles by Dominic Wightman. My position on Wightman is clear; he is a liar and a conman, and he has sought to interfere with my personal life by portraying me as a paedophile, an ally of religious extremists, and a stalker. I am none of these things.
So, going back to May 2010, assuming that Dorries initially acts with no malice and is merely operating on bad intel/advice (most likely from her ill-informed mates at this stage), she sees me at the Flitwick event, thinking whatever it is that she’s thinking, and she becomes understandably upset. Those few remaining supporters of Dorries’ position may not understand that I totally get this. However, Dorries loses all sympathy and surrenders any moral authority from the moment she claims a police investigation is in progress, especially if she does so knowing that she hasn’t even filed a valid complaint with police yet. Even if she had called any police force at any stage before the Flitwick event (there’s no evidence of it), it would have been explained to her each time she tried that the material she complained about did not constitute harassment. Yet she continued to pretend otherwise (or, worse, claimed to have made a complaint when no complaint was made).
In any case, Dorries refused to retract this entirely false claim and instead went on to build on it. Most often when asked about allegations published on my website, Dorries has repeatedly put it about in that I have a past record for stalking MPs, that I had been following her around to some extent, and that police subsequently regarded me to be a genuine threat to her safety. There are variations between what she specifically claims in what political/media circles and when, but the primary accusation/implication remains the same, and it’s a barren and unforgivable lie.
Worse, Dorries was advised that someone had been publishing my home address alongside the claim that I stalked her. She was also informed that when challenged at a public event this person claimed to be acting in this way on her behalf. Dorries responded by heavily implying that she had forwarded relevant email(s) from this man to police. She later claimed that what she really meant was she had forwarded email from me to police (i.e. and complained about my conduct instead), but there’s no record of her having done this, either.
Nadine Dorries has been assured by police that I represent no threat to her. So why does she continue to stand by what she has published/broadcast, especially when she knows about the people out there who use her allegations to intimidate me and scare the crap out of my family?
Further, why does she continue to pretend that she was advised by police to disguise her movements from me and the three other stalkers she claims are out there? She cannot now claim she was talking about these other stalkers, because even if I couldn’t identify the people she refers to in this vague accusation (I can) she has obviously positioned me as the ‘lead’ stalker, which reveals the entire claim to be a sham. Dorries portrays me as the very worst of her perceived stalkers, but Bedfordshire Police have no complaint to make about my treatment of Dorries, and I could find no record of any similar complaint about me to the London Metropolitan Police, not even through officers stationed in the House of Commons.
I am often accused of being wordy, so I wish to be as succinct as possible about the following central point:
Nadine Dorries has been making most if not all of this ‘stalking’ nonsense up, and it is well past time for her to stop.
She can’t produce any evidence to support it, and the truth behind these deliberately vague allegations about me and others is that she cannot handle criticism or even a fair debate, and instead immediately walls these dangers off as “abuse”, “harassment” or even “stalking”, possibly not just as an excuse for avoiding things like contradictory evidence, but also in instinctive defence of her own beliefs, which she has invested a LOT in by this stage.
Dorries may find it a hard reality to accept, but this is the reality of it:
Bedfordshire Police have looked at what I’ve published about her, and were provided with a copy of every email I’d ever sent to her. It’s not harassment. It doesn’t even rate a warning. I could keep it up for years and never fall on the wrong side of the law. I could also be a lot more unfair about it than most of her mates are, but that’s not the way I do things.
What Dorries calls ‘harassment’ is not harassment. Also, when she says ‘stalking’ she often means ‘harassment’, but that is not to say that she hasn’t also been deliberately claiming/implying that she has been followed around; she’s been doing plenty of that, but the only material I have seen that comes anywhere near maybe justifying it involves her story about a newspaper person who took a picture once, and some claim about a burglary where a door was taken off the hinges and some files were got at. Allegedly.
It doesn’t amount to much. It certainly doesn’t support what she’s been putting about locally and in political/media circles. Keeping this in mind, Nadine Dorries will also want to reflect on the entirely fabricated evidence that emerged during the investigation, and the courtesy I show her by not implying that she was behind it when I decline to share any further detail on the grounds of personal privacy.
When reflecting on this, she might want to stop and think seriously about the role she plays in a climate where such extraordinary falsehoods are peddled. After ‘smeargate’ especially she cannot afford to do anything but take a strong line against the tactic of using damaging falsehoods, especially the kind of mud that is designed to stick, or otherwise cause anguish or humiliation, even if it is demonstrably untrue.
In the past two years, entirely baseless and damaging claims have been made about me, and even about my children. Again, I do not wish to play Dorries’ game and imply that she is involved in the latter attempt at fabrication, but it is this element she is playing to and engaging with when she peddles damaging falsehoods of her own, especially knowing as she does how they are later used by others, including/especially Dominic Wightman.
If Nadine Dorries would like to object to anything that I have published about her, she is welcome (as she has always been) to specify anything that she regards to be incorrect or even unfair. Similarly, I challenge her to back what she has claimed about my being the worst of four stalkers with some specific evidence, or finally retract the claim.
Specifics take time, so I invite Nadine Dorries to take a couple of days to think about everything she has published on her website declaring me to be a stalker and/or otherwise guilty of harassment, and all of the stories she has spread privately about me being a danger to her or others, and how she might begin to correct the damage she has done. She might also wish to have a quiet word with Iain Dale, Anne Milton and Patrick Mercer, as she appears to have been making some extraordinary and unsupported claims on their behalf.
Finally, she might want to consider avoiding any future contact with Dominic Wightman, or any further endorsement of what he publishes under any name. If she has any doubts, I’m sure that Milton and Mercer will be delighted to explain why privately (i.e. without giving away too much about their own part in this; tribalism does have its limits).
14th May 2011
MAJOR UPDATE (22 Nov 2011) – Nadine Dorries misled police in her complaint against four alleged ‘stalkers’. Here’s the evidence and here’s a summary of revelations to date. Next up: evidence that Dorries lied about the outcome of the investigation she prompted in the desperate hope it would disguise her lies about an investigation that never took place.
Today I had a meeting with Bedfordshire Police. They informed me that under caution and recorded on tape at Guldford Police station, Tim Ireland, of bloggerheads, has been issued with a warning under section two of the harassment act.
Nadine Dorries (source)
This is Dorries’ way of saying the investigation following her belated complaint to Bedfordshire Police has closed without action. There was nothing in it; she was thrown a bone that offers only some reassurance that I have agreed not to act in a way that I have never acted before, and that’s all. I doubt that Dorries actually needs this reassurance, especially when she so clearly intends to use it to continue her attempts to smear me (because nothing makes more sense than poking your alleged stalker with a stick).
At one stage, I was given advice from police about the wisdom of attending any future events with the intention of trying to get close to Nadine Dorries, but it would be wrong to assume or imply that I ever held such creepy intentions in the first place, and it would be dishonest to pretend that the investigation closed with police establishing any inappropriate behaviour on my part; this conversation that Dorries clings to took place before I was able to produce evidence supporting my contention that (a) I had been invited to a public meeting, and (b) secured permission to both film *and* broadcast, and it should be appreciated in that context.
Police cannot dispute that I was there at that meeting with permission from organisers, and even granted leave to stay by the majority of those attending after Dorries made her first entirely false accusation about stalking. I was only asked to stop what I was doing after a further false allegation about my not informing organisers of the broadcast (see below). Even any potential breach of the peace was mainly the result of Dorries going off on one, and she can’t produce a scrap of evidence to support the circular argument behind her outburst.
Police may have had more cause to speak to me about inappropriate behaviour if I had behaved in a way that was inappropriate. As it was, the conversation/point focused a lot on how my past/future actions might be construed by some, and police had so little to support even this line of argument that the relevant shortlist of accusers and critics included Dominic Wightman.
Dorries’ claim that I had lied to organisers about my intentions was one of the main reasons why police had initial concerns about my presence at Flitwick, but the truth was that I had gone out of my way to secure permission and be clear about my intentions. In fact, I was not only able to produce emails backing this up, but also (surprise evidence!) audio of my explaining it to the Chair and getting her approval prior to broadcast! The broadcast webcam was online with ustream.tv’s server before the event went live to the public, and it was recording at the time… so while the audio is extremely muddy, a camera did capture a crucial conversation with the Chair of the Flitwick event, including the part where I explain to her that “I’m just about to start broadcasting”.
Police were furnished with this audio, along with all other unedited footage of the event from my main camera, plus my every email communication with Dorries and/or her office for good measure. Dorries claims to have received hundreds of “vile and abusive” messages from me, but nothing like this turned up during the investigation that I’m aware of, and Dorries has so far refused to honour a legitimate DPA request from me that would require her to (at least) provide a copy of every email and letter sent to her in my name. Did she make this detail up, or was she merely mistaken? Dorries isn’t saying; she is instead implying that this investigation supports her argument, when it does nothing of the sort. No evidence has emerged of my behaving in the way that Dorries has described and implied; not at the Flitwick event, not before the Flitwick event, and not after the Flitwick event.
Since this investigation began, Dorries has been repeatedly leaking incorrect and distorted versions of privileged information in an attempt to politicise it. The antics included an entirely false claim that I was arrested that Dorries (the source if not the author) has yet to explain or apologise for. Dorries’ presentation of this conversation with police during a voluntary interview as if it supports anything she has alleged about me is no different.
Bedfordshire Police recognise that the public have a right to go to public meetings, and should be free to conduct filming and broadcasts when they’ve got permission from organisers. If Dorries could support her claim that I had actually stalked her or anyone else previous to this event, I can see where police might have the beginnings of a case, but Dorries offers no evidence to support this contention. None.
Further, previous to this complaint, Nadine Dorries claimed a police investigation was already in progress. At Flitwick, she specifically declared that I was already a notorious stalker (i.e. with a string of victims and a ‘police aware’ sticker on my forehead). When challenged to back this hysterical if not calculated cycle of bullshit with evidence, instead of producing a crime reference number as she promised to, Dorries sought to generate one.
She didn’t even get that far; no crime reference number was assigned to this investigation. Even when operating on the basis of what Dorries claimed about the Flitwick event, police took the position that “no crime (was) involved”.
Dorries (a lawmaker) has yet to explain why she made then maintained an entirely false, damaging and downright dangerous claim about a police investigation that never took place.
Dorries has also failed to produce any evidence to support her claim that she has been genuinely, physically stalked and subsequently advised by police to lie about her whereabouts on her website (i.e. the desperate claim she clung to in the wake of the disastrous “70% fiction” admission).
Given the shrill and indiscreet manner in which Dorries has conducted herself during this investigation, I seriously doubt that any other investigation has taken place without us knowing about it, and if my actions were likely to cause Dorries distress because of anyone else acting in the way she describes, I am confident that police would have brought that up at the stage when they were expressing concern about my turning up to a public meeting that I was invited to.
Besides, Dorries has repeatedly claimed/implied that it was *me* who was such a concern to police that they advised her to disguise her movements, and Bedfordshire Police made no mention of any evidence or allegation about my behaving in this way toward anyone, and no other police force in the land has been in touch in TWO YEARS since these dastardly (if vaguely defined ) deeds were allegedly done.
Further, it cannot be stressed enough that Dorries needs a time machine for this latest deception to hold. She claims she was advised by police to lie about where she lived because someone was taking an unhealthy interest in her movements. The Flitwick event happened almost a year after she claims to have been given this advice. Where is the evidence of the events she claims led to this police advice? Where is the confirmation from police that they issued the advice she spoke of?
Dorries is making most of this stuff up, if not all of it. She cannot produce any evidence of my harassing her electronically, and she cannot produce any evidence of my stalking her physically. If by some miracle she turns out to have a genuine stalker (she claims there are four), there is no sign of there ever being an investigation into any of it, and Dorries has no business pretending it’s anything to do with me in any case.
UPDATE (15 May) – To be clear: I wish to bring you the actual position of police, not the interpretation by Dorries or even an interpretation by me. This warning that Dorries pretends is the end result of the investigation was not given in response to anything she has claimed about physical or electronic stalking; none of that is true, and I am greatly disappointed that police have allowed for confusion on this front, especially considering their awareness of Dorries’ behaviour prior to this.
Police said what they did in light of Dorries’ complaint about the Flitwick event specifically. I have asked them for their position in writing. I would also like to see a copy of Nadine’s original complaint if she would care to publish it.
If Dorries wants to declare that police gave me a warning in response to her complaint, I would really much rather that she specified what that complaint was, rather than pretend it is for hundreds of “vile and abusive” emails that never existed, or physical stalking that never took place. Dorries being what she is, I expect she will instead pretend that all she alleges stands unchallenged if not confirmed.
UPDATE (16 May, 10am) – I have been in contact with Bedfordshire police. They have agreed to put their position in writing and plan to do so later today. I will say more when they have done so. In the interim, to avoid any confusion throughout the day:
We are in a situation where Dorries is (once again) the source of damaging inaccuracies. No caution has been issued against me, and police have seen no evidence of my stalking or even harassing Nadine Dorries.
She implies otherwise, but Dorries’ complaint to police amounts ONLY to a complaint about my presence at the Flitwick event.
As I understand it, that she has made a complaint makes any further attempt to be in the same room as her a potential offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.* It was a warning about any future attempt to be in her presence, and it was and is entirely surplus to requirements. Nadine’s mate Iain Dale running a ‘Tim Ireland warned under Harassment law’ headline in response to what she had claimed in recent months is entirely misleading in that gives a false summary of events.; it implies that I was given a warning in response to allegations she still cannot substantiate. A technicality under law involving potential acts I am unlikely to commit in the future should not be used to imply (as Dorries has) that it is a judgement on my conduct at Flitwick, or generally, or that I have any history of behaving like this… because the single event that made the complaint possible involved my being invited to a public meeting, and arranging to record and broadcast that meeting in good faith.
I’ll be out with more later, when police have issued their position in writing and Dorries and her mates have had a chance to issue a proper retraction. If they do, it’ll be a first. But I’ll wait all the same.
UPDATE (16 May 1:45pm) – The letter from police is here. The full text from the body of the letter appears below:
I write to inform you that the harassment complaint made against you by Nadine Dorries, MP, on 12th July 2010 is now concluded.
This was in relation to you attending the Flitwick Hall Hustings, Bedfordshire on 4th May 2010, knowing that Nadine Dorries was in attendance. As advised, others could construe this type of behaviour as harassment or stalking. There is no action against you concerning this matter, apart from the verbal warning given by me to you during the Voluntary Interview in January 2011.
Nadine Dorries has been informed of this result.
The above Non Crime Report has been generated today, Monday 16th May 2011, as the paperwork for this complaint now needs to be referenced and filed.
There is the risk of quote-mining that concerns me, but I can say with confidence that the warning mentioned in this letter amounts only to the officer’s duty under law to advise me of the potential consequences of being in the same room as Dorries at a further event in light of the fact that a complaint was made about the first. I can also say without fear of contradicting the police or distorting their position that it is not a judgement on my conduct at that event or in any other respect, because it is not a warning about any past behaviour, much less any pattern of behaviour. Police do not themselves regard my actions to date to be harassment or stalking, but they would not be doing their jobs if they did not advise me of the risks of being in Dorries presence once a formal complaint has been made, because it is from the moment that a second event takes place that the law might apply.
It is entirely unacceptable to pretend that this warning is the main outcome of an investigation into Dorries’ wider/wilder allegations, a formal caution or variation of same, or any kind of recognition under law supporting anything Dorries has alleged.
It would also be wrong to assign any significance to the matter being filed, as it was filed by my request, in the hope that this measure would reduce the potential for distortion of the outcome.
This investigation has done nothing to support anything Dorries has claimed about being stalked. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Back soon with more on that front.
UPDATE – *This was not the case at all. The “warning” issued by police carries a legal weight of zero. It amounted to informal advice, and that’s all. It is regrettable that when pressed for specifics, Bedfordshire Police failed to be clear on this crucial point, especially when people who seek to exploit the situation continue to base some quite damaging headlines/claims on continued misuse of the word ‘warning’ (e.g. Iain Dale, who refuses to amend his claim that I was “issued with a harassment warning”, when he knows this is not true).
UPDATE – I patiently dug around for evidence, as is my habit. Find out the truth about the substance of Nadine Dorries’ complaint against me. I committed no criminal act; even Dorries’ own lawyers agree on this.
10th May 2011
I’d like to begin by insisting that you read Unity’s long post about what 10 Yetis have been unleashing on the public for a long time now; the scale of their pathetic avarice should not be underestimated:
10 Yetis came to my attention in the middle of Nadine Dorries’ widely-mocked abstinence ‘education’ campaign when they released the results of an absurdly unprofessional and leading survey about parents’ attitudes to sex education. 10 Yetis refuse to say what prompted them to conduct and release this poll, but (a) I don’t think I am wrong to suspect that they saw a little media storm brewing and sought to exploit it, and (b) their refusal to answer this question and others honestly – or at all – is the reason for this post, so they may want to re-think their current ‘stonewall’ strategy.
(In fact, the good people at 10 Yetis should also be advised that if they are going to claim expertise in search engine optimisation, they will want to at least pretend to be dimly aware of the capacity your average blogger has for repeating questions in public when these questions are ignored and/or dealt with dishonestly in private.)
To be fair to Charlotte Horsfall (“Consumer PR Exec @10Yetis PR Agency”), not all of the following deceits are hers and hers alone. Some belong in no small part to her boss Andy Barr and anyone else who had a hand in conceiving/executing their bottom-feeding business model, but there’ll be time enough to address these people later.
Charlotte Horsfall was asked who commissioned this survey/poll. Her answer:
BabyChild commissioned the survey of British parents of children age between 5 – 11 years.
‘BabyChild’ is the name of a white label store owned by the same people who own and operate 10 Yetis. To pretend distance by presenting them as a client is entirely dishonest; the poll was. in truth, self-commissioned; a PR company sought to promote their own web store through a survey.
This one may not be entirely on Charlotte (it depends on who wrote/approved the press release) but the information was released in a way that risks giving a false impression that the survey was conducted by a company that had a relationship with a relevant customer base and/or some associated experience/expertise. White label stores do not work in this way, and in any case there is no evidence that the survey was conducted among customers of that store (see #3):
A survey has been conducted by a leading independent baby product review website in the UK to ask parents how they feel about their children learning about the subject in a school environment. www.babychild.org.uk polled 1,732 parents in the UK, with children aged between 5 and 11 years old. – source)
(Psst! 10 Yetis boss Andy Barr cannot pretend that this happened without his knowledge/approval, as he publicly gloated about the success of the PR stunt in which he is quoted as the co-founder of BabyChild.)
Given what the press release claimed/implied, Charlotte Horsfall was asked; “Was the site conducted on your site, or among your customers in some other way?”
Instead of saying ‘no’ (which would have been an honest answer), Charlotte said this:
“BabyChild conducted the study by using an opt-in database that has access to over one million consumers all responses being anonymous.”
Charlotte has refused to elaborate any further on this, but if we’re to go by other amateur surveys they’ve conducted, this is a reference to the third party website SurveyMonkey, and somewhat akin to someone claiming they are part of the Murdoch media empire because they have a MySpace page.
So, not only are 10 Yetis dishonest, but they are the type of low-rent company who do things on the cheap while pretending theirs is a far grander and more professional affair than it really is.
Charlotte Horsfall was asked if her company was a member of the MRS (Market Research Society). Her answer:
BabyChild are not members of the MRS.
The more correct answer is, of course, that 10 Yetis is not a member of the MRS (Market Research Society). This alone should make anyone wary of portraying them (and/or otherwise relying on them) as if they were a serious ‘pollster’; they are not.
In fact, 10 Yetis appear to conduct polls purely for the purposes of generating publicity (and this mainly for what they describe as “internal clients” when they stray anywhere near the truth).
I’m going to close by including the full text of their entirely unscientific poll (below). The leading nature of the questions should be obvious (and this has been addressed by Unity in any case), but I would also like to draw the last three questions and their responses to your attention.
If one is to give this poll any credit, using these last 3 questions, one can use it to argue strongly for sex education in schools; the respondents’ children appear to seek information about sex at a younger age than it is taught in schools, and the majority of parents are ill-equipped to deal with it themselves.
10 Yetis could just as easily have come out against what Dorries proposed, because the ‘findings’ of this poll are a meaningless muddle of mendaciousness. Not that such an effort would be welcomed by anyone supporting an evidence-based position; this is an amateur effort that sought to jump on board a debate about our children’s sex education in the hope that this would generate some cheap publicity.
Well, here we are, 10 Yetis; here’s your publicity. Choke on it.
[Psst! I know times is tough, but if you are working as an employee or 'intern' for these no-hopers, you could do better. You may even wish to seek out PR experience with a charity, or some other organisation that puts the public interest ahead of pathetic profit streams. You're likely to do far less damage that way, and you may sleep better most nights.]
UPDATE – Some related posts:
Cath Elliott – The great 10 Yetis circle jerk
Richard Bartholomew – An Abominable Sex Education Survey
4th May 2011
There is a lot to be said about Nadine Dorries’ attempt to pass into law a bill introducing compulsory abstinence ‘education’ for teenage girls (and girls alone). As usual (example), she is using a mainstream
face farce to mask a deeply religious – some might say fundamentalist – agenda, and producing anecdotal, distorted or just plain invented evidence to support it… but, happily, there’s been enough shock and outrage over her blurtings today to pretty much guarantee that every point of her ridiculous premise will be shot down by someone, somewhere.
That leaves me free to make this single observation…
Nadine Dorries claims that Raspberry Beret by Prince is one of her all-time favourite songs. In fact, here’s a touching moment from her not-a-blog where she draws great comfort from this funk ballad:
“I will know I’m feeling happier when I flick onto the next track – Prince and Raspberry Beret – I can’t get there quick enough.”
Nadine Dorries (source)
In case there’s any doubt, it was her first choice when she was asked for her favourite song in the 2005 election:
(What is your favourite music/song?)
“Raspberry Beret by Prince and the second of Goretskis three sorrowful songs.”
Nadine Dorries (source)
If Nadine Dorries actually means it when she claims she wants to teach teens that it’s “cool” to say ‘no’ to sex (i.e. if this isn’t just a further attempt to halve the abortion rate for entirely biblical reasons), she may want to choose a new favourite song…. because Raspberry Beret is a song about a teenage romance that culminates in what is unmistakably a first-time sexual experience.
Raspberry Beret (lyrics excerpt):
They say the first time ain’t the greatest
But I tell ya
If I had the chance 2 do it all again
I wouldn’t change a stroke
Cause baby I’m the most
With a girl as fine as she was then
If there is any room for doubt about this, it is about the female character’s virginity… and this thought process leads us to a situation where she is the more experienced of the two, and possibly the instigator in this sexual adventure (i.e. if we are not reading it as the male character taking advantage of a none-too-bright teenage girl):
Raspberry Beret (lyrics excerpt):
I said now, overcast days never turned me on
But something about the clouds and her mixed
She wasn’t 2 bright
But I could tell when she kissed me
She knew how 2 get her kicks
To be clear, this favourite song of Nadine’s specifically celebrates the opposite of the position she pressed in the House today:
“We need to let young girls know that to say no to sex when you are under pressure is a cool thing to do…”
“My bill was about making boys wait being an empowering and cool thing for girls to do…”
Nadine Dorries (source)
To close, I invite you to make like our society and saturate yourself in sex. Let’s dance!
UPDATE – The post has been edited to add two quotes from Dorries that further support my point.
UPDATE – Related linkage:
Heresy Corner – Boys, girls and Nadine Dorries
Liberal Conspiracy – Abstinence makes Nadine Dorries’ brain go softer
“Um… about that thing you just said…” – Women Who Hate Women: Nadine Dorries
We Mixed Our Drinks – Thoughts on Nadine Dorries’ abstinence crusade
Ministry of Truth – Dorries’ Abstinence Speech – The Fact Check
4th May 2011
[The following is the full text of a letter sent to Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. I'll let it speak for itself.]
To: The Assistant Registrar, Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
From: Tim Ireland
Subject: Lynn Elson
Dear Sir or Madam,
In the process of investigating payments to Lynn Elson through the office of Nadine Dorries (Conservative member for Mid Bedfordshire), I had cause to email one of Elson’s former business partners, who later stated that on Feb 4th 2011 he had sent a copy of my email (along with his reply) only to the two parties concerned; Nadine Dorries and Lynn Elson.
When checking the tracking data for the relevant email, I discovered that the first recipient of this forwarded email had downloaded it using an IP address that was one of a range used to connect the NHS private data network (N3) to the public Internet.
What this means in layman’s terms is that the person who downloaded an email sent only to Lynn Elson and Nadine Dorries did so using a network reserved exclusively for staff and approved personnel authorised by the NHS.
I suspect this indicates that Lynn Elson held a staff and/or consultancy position within the NHS at the same time as working as the “right hand woman” for Nadine Dorries.
As you are no doubt aware, this raises potentially serious questions on a number of fronts, especially given this member’s long standing interest in the NHS and other health-related matters:
In accordance with Resolutions made by the House of Commons on 17 December 1985 and 28 June 1993, holders of photo-identity passes as Members’ secretaries or research assistants are in essence required to register:
Any occupation or employment for which they receive over £329 from the same source in the course of a calendar year, if that occupation or employment is in any way advantaged by the privileged access to Parliament afforded by their pass
Further, I have looked through the Register Of Interests Of Members’ Secretaries And Research Assistants, and have found no declaration of any kind for Lynn Elson under Other Relevant Gainful Occupation or Benefit.
There is also the matter of the size of the payments made to this individual though Dorries’ office (£3,450/month over many months) which would at the very least suggest that her role under this MP was full-time.
While I realise that the staff member involved has already resigned (Feb 7th 2011), she has given an obviously false excuse for doing so (she accused me of ‘intrusion’ after I published an article studying the publicly-available data about her income/business, heavily implying that I had stalked her in some way), and the relevant MP is still a serving member who should at least be asked about her awareness of Lynn Elson’s role within the NHS at the time of her ‘employment’ in the House.
(I put ‘employment’ in scare quotes mainly because Lynn Elson was paid though her company, Marketing Management Midlands Ltd, and your records show her as non-payroll staff.)
I understand it is within your remit to investigate this matter, and believe it is in the public interest that you do so.
I look forward to your reply.
UPDATE (13 May) – The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards will not be acting on this complaint. “Ms Elson is no longer working for a Member.” Pity. I thought they stood a good chance of getting at least some of our money back.
3rd May 2011
Just before the recent holiday break, Nadine Dorries posted the following statement* in reaction to these questions about her expenses claims:
“For anyone who cares to know, blogger, Tim Ireland, who chooses to write blogs which are malicious, un-founded and for the most part totally untrue, has been warned by Police not to enter Bedfordshire.” – Nadine Dorries (source)
Just in case you’re new here, I should explain that this time last year (May 4 2010), Dorries claimed that I had stalked her and several other MPs, and claimed quite specifically that a police investigation was in progress.
This was an outright lie, and Dorries was in a position where she could not even prove that she had made a formal complaint that might allow her to credibly claim that she was initially mistaken about this. So, using her magic time machine, Dorries sought to cover herself by making a complaint to police about my presence at the same public meeting where she made her entirely false claim that a police investigation was already in progress.
This complaint prompted an investigation so lacking in merit that no crime reference number has been assigned to it, because no crime (potential or otherwise) has yet to be detected, even among the distortions Dorries fed to police; I was invited to a public meeting, and even secured permission ahead of time to both record and broadcast the event.
Since this later/genuine investigation began, Dorries has repeatedly sought to politicise it by leaking privileged details that police have shared with her, which then appear in distorted form either through her blog or via anonymous comments made elsewhere on her behalf.
Here is an example of the latter, for your reference:
The claim that I was arrested is entirely untrue, and the accompanying details are a gross distortion… but this claim and others like it contain just enough privileged information to make it clear that Dorries is the source (even if she is not typing these anonymous comments herself).
What makes this situation even worse is that Nadine Dorries knows there are cyber-vigilantes targeting me who have been publishing these same lies and distortions alongside my home address and other details of my whereabouts (latest).
I am trying very hard to avoid leaking any details myself, and I hope to better explain my position in coming days/weeks, but there’s been widespread reaction to what Dorries has claimed/implied about my freedom to move in and out of Bedfordshire, and I have to publish something in the short term to address this, so please excuse my generics:
It is the role of police to not only uphold the law, but keep the peace. With two parties in dispute, they may choose to give advice to either or both parties in an attempt to avoid a potential breach of the peace.
Given Nadine Dorries’ reaction to my presence at Flitwick alone, it should not come as an enormous shock to anyone if police (or anyone else with a vested interest in keeping the peace) were to suggest that I may wish to avoid any future meetings in Bedfordshire where Dorries might be present.
But this advice might be portrayed in any number of ways.
If one wanted to support Dorries and her contention that I have stalked her and others, it could be interpreted as a warning with the weight of a court order behind it, or even the mere potential of arrest in entirely theoretical circumstances. This would at least imply that there is some weight to the repeated claims and implications that I have been following Dorries around and/or paying her undue attention. (I haven’t.) To those unfamiliar with the law and/or likely to trust a lawmaker making claims on behalf of police, it might even suggest that I am a stalker in the eyes of the law. (I’m not.)
However, if one wanted to highlight the risks to my family resulting from the web publications that follow Dorries’ outbursts (i.e. false claims that I stalk women and send death threats to MPs published alongside my home address) it could be interpreted as a measure I should take for my/our own sake.
Using a more aggressive distortion, if one wanted to portray Nadine Dorries as hysterical, one might liken it to being advised to stay away from Eleanor Abernathy (the ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ from The Simpsons) for the sake of my own wellbeing… and that of the cats she throws at her perceived persecutors.
Mind you, IF anything like the latter were the case, it is worth noting that we are talking about advice here, with no legal force behind it, or even an implied threat of potential legal action… so if Dorries were to decide to throw cats at me anyway, see if you can guess what that does to my motivation.
To close, I wish to make it completely clear that police have not claimed or even implied that Nadine Dorries is mentally ill or a danger to cats… but neither have they claimed or implied that I am a stalker, a danger to humans, or even at risk of breaking the law by blogging about this MP, attending relevant public meetings, or passing within the boundaries of Bedfordshire.
(*Psst! Dorries’ latest outburst is what is known as an ‘ad hominem’ attack, and the thugs who support Dorries often pretend to take a principled stand against such things when falsely portraying any criticism of this MP as a personal attack of this nature. Needless to say, they’ve not said a word against this attack from Dorries, just as they’ve turned a blind eye to the many other false accusations levelled at me because I dared to subject Dorries and/or her Tory mates to scrutiny. One of these people even attempts to excuse/minimise false accusations of stalking and death threats by equating these specific allegations of criminality to my use of the word ‘thug’ to describe the same people who carry on like this and/or publish personal details such as my home address and home phone number in order to intimidate me. It’s all political gameplay to these people; any claim of adherence to moral/legal principles is primarily pretence. Were it otherwise, they would spare some criticism for scumbags like Iain Dale and Anne Milton; people who have knowingly stood by and willingly allowed even smears of paedophilia to pass unfettered for personal/political gain.)
26th Apr 2011
As you can see from the following statement released in response to a query to the London Met, the allegation reported by two newspapers and repeated on this blog was entirely true; an expenses claim submitted by Nadine Dorries’ was under investigation by police, and the matter was later referred to and considered by the Crown Prosecution Service:
“An allegation of dishonest parliamentary claims was received by the MPS on 20/5/10. As a result of a detailed assessment an investigation began. A file of evidence was submitted to the CPS on 9/12/10. As a result of further evidence, the investigation continued and the case was again considered by the joint MPS/CPS panel. The panel has now recommended that there is insufficient evidence to proceed to a prosecution and therefore police have decided to take no further action.” – London Metropolitan Police spokesperson
This is something that has gone unreported in Nadine Dorries’ local paper (Bedfordshire on Sunday).
Dorries herself has found time to heavily imply that the person making the complaint (a former employee) was guilty of misconduct, but she has yet to produce any supporting evidence and there is no word of her filing any kind of complaint. Meanwhile, Bedfordshire on Sunday editor Chris Gill has seen fit to publish an article portraying my investigation of this same story as intrusion or worse, based on nothing more than assertions by Nadine Dorries and/or Lynn Elson that phone calls had been made to police.
To remind you of the detail, here is an excerpt from the original story as it broke, just prior to the date in May when Dorries’ former employee Peter Hand made the relevant complaint to the London Met:
Dorries, who last week retained her mid-Bedfordshire seat, claimed the money for an annual report in 2007 on her performance as an MP, and consultancy services, but Hand said he never saw the report or worked on it. Dorries claimed a total of more than £40,000 in expenses for services provided by Marketing Management (Midlands), owned by her friend Lynn Elson. They live near each other in the Cotswolds.
Dorries claimed £9,987.50 for Marketing Management in June 2007 for the design, layout and production of an annual report and for consultancy. She says she spent the money, and posted a copy of the report on her website. However, it does not appear to be professionally produced. The previous year, by contrast, she issued a glossy four-page professionally produced report with more than 25 pictures, news articles, an interview and a breakdown of her typical working day as an MP.
Hand, who now works for the charity Mencap, said: “The 2006 report was posted on her website and I was closely involved in its production.
“I was never aware a report was produced in 2007 and never saw one. Even if there was this leaflet, I don’t understand how the costs could be so high.”
Dorries said: “I’ve done an annual report every year since I’ve been an MP. We did keep a lot of stuff from Peter.”
She would not provide details of the printing firm which had been used for the work or a breakdown of what Elson’s firm charged for.
And here is a picture of the invoice for the work Nadine Dorries claims Lynn Elson undertook for her (PDF/source):
And here is the only sign of any visible result to date; two photographs of the report that Lynn Elson produced (which appears to be nothing more than a two-page document created in Word):
There is no record of any payment made for distribution of this ‘annual report’, it does not appear to have been published on/through Dorries’ site at any stage (despite her claims to the contrary), and judging by these photos, pointed questions might be asked about the appropriateness its content… if we were permitted to read it in full and judge its worth for ourselves.
Did Nadine Dorries present police and/or the CPS with a copy of this ‘annual report’? If so, then perhaps she would care to publish it at last. (This time last year, she claimed that she could not locate a copy, and implied that she would be perfectly willing to publish it otherwise.)
Did Lynn Elson offer a whole or partial refund for this fee? If so, when was this offered and why?
Did Nadine Dorries withdraw this expenses claim and pay back the money? If so, when did this happen and why?
Oh, and why is Bedfordshire on Sunday not asking these questions? They do not go away because of lack of evidence*. If anything, what little Dorries has published in her defence raises further questions.
Just to provide one single example; I seriously doubt that any opening argument about the strained budget of a local hospital can justify spending close to £10,000 of taxpayer’s money on what appears to be two-page ‘report’ promoting Dorries’ campaign to reduce the availability of abortion:
(*Similarly, Lynn Elson resigning does not erase the many questions about the tens of thousands of pounds Dorries has paid her over the years; quite the opposite once it is obvious that the reasons she gives for her resignation are an hysterical invention, or worse, a calculated lie.)
UPDATE (7pm) – Dorries has responded to these questions by once again implying that I am somehow guilty of stalking her**, and by accusing me of publishing “blogs which are malicious, un-founded and for the most part totally untrue”. She has been asked to identify any content in this post that is inaccurate so I might correct it, and I’ll happily extend that invitation to cover the rest of my website and anything else I’ve written, said or published about her. On that note, The Telegraph have reported this same CPS revelation within the past hour, but suggest the investigation centred mainly on Nadine’s ‘second home’ rental claims.
UPDATE (27 April) – ** Unity on the relevant allegation from Dorries (she claims I’ve been “warned by Police not to enter Bedfordshire”): “Dorries’ claim is not simply a lie, it’s a desperately bad lie; one so divorced from reality as to make its falsity obvious to all but the most gullible and credulous of her readers.”
UPDATE (27 April) – Jim Hamilton on that same allegation; “I worked for Bedfordshire Police for over 6 years, and this would be the first time that I’ve ever heard of such an instruction being given.”
21st Apr 2011
I had to laugh when I heard David Cameron making a distinction between the ‘No to AV’ campaign and the Conservative ‘No to AV’ campaign, because while the ‘No to AV’ campaign may have a few useful idiots from leftish neighbourhoods on board, there is no question about it being a very Tory animal.
(Psst! Here we pause very briefly to look in detail at the evidence David Cameron presents against the Alternative Vote… which amounts to a gut feeling. My trick knee is telling me that this is a rancid pile of foetid dingo’s kidneys.)
After weeks of dodging questions about their funding with some bullshit pre-emptive promises, the ‘No to AV’ campaign were finally pressed into revealing a partial list of donors in good time prior to the referendum, but after days of polite questions to their previously chatty Finance Director, Charlotte Vere, they have refused to answer any questions about what the total amount donated might be (though they have implied that information will emerge after everyone has voted).
The ‘Yes to AV’ campaign team, by comparison, have not only published a similar list, but also the total amount donated, and the total number of donors.
When you look at this useful annotated list of the ‘No to AV’ donors, the reason for the secrecy becomes clearer; from what they have revealed to date, ‘No to AV’ appears to be funded almost entirely by Conservative donors.
Below is a pie chart based on the figures released by ‘No to AV’ and this annotated version of their list, breaking down donations between sources that are definitely Tory or almost certainly Tory, sources that are unclear at this stage, and £10,000 from a single union:
What follows is speculation made necessary by the curious level of secrecy ‘No to AV’ insist upon…
Here is what the charts would look like if, as with the ‘Yes to AV’ campaign, just under half of the ‘No to AV’ donations were under the £7,500 threshold:
And here is what the charts would look like if ‘No to AV’ pulled a fast one and had all 650 local Conservative associations donating amounts just under the £7,500 threshold:
So, considering how bad it can look if ‘No to AV’ insist on these figures remaining a secret, I will ask their Finance Director Charlotte Vere again to reveal (as the ‘Yes to AV’ campaign have) the total amount of donations to date, and the total number of donors… now, and not after people have voted.
Those of us in the electorate have a right to know if electoral reform is being blocked mainly by the party (almost) in power and the ultra-rich backers and bankers behind them, especially if the ‘No to AV’ campaign claims to have a widespread grass-roots movement supporting the interests of the less-moneyed classes.
UPDATE (03 May) – It should also be noted that (via the Guardian) that “the No to AV figures do not include donations it received prior to the referendum bill passing in parliament”. There has been no response from Charlotte Vere to any of the questions raised in this post; Vere was awfully chatty (even boastful) about the ‘transparency’ of this unfailingly negative and dishonest campaign before these questions about the total amount donated. Now, not to so much. I’d say the cat’s got her tongue, but it’s busy elsewhere: