This entry was posted on
Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 at
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[RELATED POST – EXCLUSIVE: Grant Shapps claims he met the alleged ‘1234’ hacker]
Mark Pack – EXCLUSIVE: Grant Shapps says “realistically we’re not going to win” in Ealing: I’m a generous soul, so I’m willing to listen to an innocent explanation for all this. Can anyone reasonably explain away why Grant Shapps appears to be trying to pass himself off as a Liberal Democrat?
Let me make it absolutely clear what you’re looking at here;
Grant Shapps is not just a Conservative MP and Shadow Housing Minister… he’s Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party “with responsibility for campaigning” (source).
So we’re not talking about some overzealous activist or flunky… we are talking about the guy in charge of the Ealing Southall campaign for the Conservatives and in charge of campaigning for the Conservatives overall (oh, plus he’s also Chairman of a company that claims some web expertise).
And he’s just been caught in a very clumsy sock-puppeting attempt… because he forgot that he was still logged in to his personal YouTube account at the time of the attempt.
Here’s my take on what happened (I’ve obviously filled in some blanks here, but if I’m wrong about any of it, Grant is more that welcome to get in touch and correct me… as is the being known only as ‘aristoteliananselm’):
1. Grant Shapps created a new profile on YouTube with the intention of posing as a Lib Dem supporter/activist during the Ealing Southall by-election. I’m guessing that this is the (or a) profile created specifically for that purpose (see below for more).
2. To give his sock-puppet account more credibility, he arranged for a video to be made that would be cheap/easy to produce and typical of YouTube output; in this case he has gone for ‘loser lip-synching poorly to fave pop tune on his/her webcam‘.
3. The ‘aristoteliananselm’ account was created on 2 July 2007 and the video was uploaded on 2 July 2007. (Note – for some strange reason, in the video ‘aristoteliananselm’ appears to be in his mid-twenties, but the profile gives his age as 71.)
4. The account was allowed to mature for a few days while Grant waited for just the right moment to strike. On 9 July 2007, following the successful recruitment of 5 Labour councillors, he judged that the moment had come… Grant readied himself, got into character, and prepared to pose as a Lib Dem supporter/activist admitting defeat over the defections (that he himself engineered).
Basically, he planned to deceive the electorate, undermine his opponents and blow his own horn at the same time.
5. Grant identified his target – this video of Ming Campbell opening the Lib Dem by-election HQ – and posted the following comment, the intent of which should be crystal-clear:
Okay, realistically we’re not going to win though. Especially since the Tories have just received 5 defecting Councillors from Labour. Don’t quite know how they’ve done it, but the Tories have stolen a march on us this time.
6. But then… oh fuck, oh bugger, oh Christ… oh fucking buggering Christ… he realised that he was still logged into his own personal account!
7. Meaning that the comment was headed with his name, and that his name linked back to his personal YouTube profile! Oh fuck, oh bugger, oh Christ! Does YouTube allow you to delete comments you have made on other people’s videos? No, it doesn’t! Oh fucking buggering Christ!!!
8. Perhaps Grant spent a few minutes considering his options (about the only option left to him was to login to his fake account and mark that comment as ‘spam’ in the dim hope that it would be deleted) and perhaps he spent an entire day flitting between hoping that no-one would notice and comforting himself with the notion that “It’s only the internet!” just in case someone did. Perhaps we will never know.
9. Either way, it was roughly 36 hours later when the aristoteliananselm account was used to post a comment that positively stinks of ‘activist posing as man in the street’:
To be honest, I don’t think Nigel can cut it as an MP. He doesn’t stand out from any of the other candidates, and the Lib Dem record on policy makes me wonder why I should bother even considering voting for them. I have my sights elsewhere – the Tories seem to have the best candidate for Ealing Southall.
And this time around, bless ’em, they appear to have got it right:
Now, I’ve witnessed and conducted some sock-puppeting busts in my time, but this one’s a whopper!
The best defence that Grant Shapps could put forward? Well, here’s a small selection of what you might expect based on my years of experience in dealing with political dickwits who use sock-puppets to ‘debate’, congratulate, or fellate themselves:
– The account (or perhaps even YouTube itself) was compromised in some way.
– An over-enthusiastic but well-meaning underling borrowed Grant’s laptop.
– Grant did this on purpose as a joke and has therefore proved that the Lib Dems have no sense of humour
– Grant Shapps has been hacked! No doubt by a Lib-Dem sympathising computer hacker, proving what nasty people the Lib Dems really are and… (etc.)
– But… but… but.. EVERYBODY does it!
– Oh, get a life… it’s only a comment on YouTube!
– What are you? A conspiracy theorist?
– Why do you hate America?*
[*Does not apply in the UK unless torture, terror or napalm is involved.]
There are a lot of options there, but I think Grant will have to accept that this is a slam-dunk… and while we’re waiting for him to come to that conclusion…
One thing I would love to confirm is Grant’s alleged status as the Conservatives’ leading expert in e-campaigning (matters are unclear following recent departures and appointments). Can anyone shed light on his claimed, perceived or official e-expert status?
The other thing I would like to do is find out more about the person in the single video hosted under the aristoteliananselm account. My gut tells me that he’s a Tory activist who was somehow convinced to don reflective* Top Gun sunglasses and flap his lips for the good of the party. Can anyone identify this individual?
[*While the shot is set up in a way that avoids showing any room detail in the background, the reflective glasses give us tantalising glimpses of his surroundings.]
UPDATE (2:49pm) – I’ve just received a reply from Grant Shapps. I’m currently waiting for permission to quote from it, but what I can tell you right now is that the excuse he gives is on my list… and takes us into very familiar “I’m an internet expert, me!” territory.
UPDATE: (2:59pm) – Grant Shapps claims that his account was accessed by person or persons unknown because his password was set to “a rather too guessable ‘1234’” (since changed). Other claims are being made, and I’m seeking proof regarding same. For now, I would have it known for the record that Shapps’ excuse topped the list of options I provided.
UPDATE: (4:40pm) – Ha-ha! I demand some form of prize. Earlier today, I made this prediction over at Unity’s; What *will* Iain do? I’ve got odds on him providing ‘balance’ with an exclusive statement from Shapps.
Sure enough… the political ‘commentator’ came through…
Iain Dale – Shapps Denies Astroturfing Allegations: This all seemd a bit odd to me so I went to the horse’s mouth and have got a categoric denial that Grant did anything of the sort. It appears that he had a very easily guessable password on his Youtube account (it was 1234 !!!) and someone hacked into it… I can totally see why Mark Pack and others might have thought the worst and can’t blame them for highlighting it. Sometimes the story is not quite as good as one first thinks.
Matters are made even more amusing by the early anonymous (!) comment under this post from someone wondering when I would be issuing a public apology. Way to piss on your clean slate, Iain.
PS – Go on, have a free movie quote:
“So the combination is one, two, three, four, five? That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard in my life! The kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!” – Dark Helmet (SpaceBalls)
UPDATE (11 June) – The Times: Not a good day for Grant Shapps, MP (Welwyn Hatfield, C). Shapps, presently helping the Tory effort in the Ealing Southall by-election, appeared to have logged on to the Liberal Democrats’ local YouTube page and pretended to be one of them, commiserating on their impending defeat, and seemingly forgetting that he was logged in under his own usual YouTube account, under the login name “GrantShapps”. Following much ridicule, Conservative Central Office now insists that Shapps was innocent and his account was hacked. By whom? Why?
UPDATE (2 September 2012) – Grant Shapps is STILL a sock-puppeting loser. Years have passed. Nothing has changed.
UPDATE (22 April 2015) – EXCLUSIVE: Grant Shapps claims he met the alleged ‘1234’ hacker
By Joe Taylor July 10, 2007 - 2:57 pm
This would be the same Grant Shapps who claimed that Lib Dems pay people fifty quid to put up a poster (and then failed to supply any evidence).Clearly a bit of a fantasist, I think…
By Manic July 10, 2007 - 3:29 pm
And yet he appears to want me to believe his excuses when he can provide no evidence to back them up.
By semajmaharg July 10, 2007 - 3:37 pm
That can't have been an email from Grant Shapps. I emailed him over 24 hours ago and he hasn't replied. It must be an imposter who's, like, stolen his password or something.
By errorgorilla July 10, 2007 - 6:07 pm
Ha! Excellent. Poor show from Iain Dale too. Even his audience aren't buying it, although one hapless commentator invokes all sorts of implausible shenanigans a malevolent impostor might have employed, when in reality YouTube allows five attempts at logging in before blocking the account.I've tried Googling for Aristoteliananselm but nothing comes back. And why the Thompson Twins? Bizarre.
By errorgorilla July 10, 2007 - 6:44 pm
Shapps runs the internet marketing outfit Howtocorp.com under another pseudonym. Perhaps Michael Green is more technically savvy than Grant or maybe he should buy his own Easy Download Protector and enjoy the safety of a "simple way to set up a secure password protected download or membership area, so your customers can access your digital products – but ONLY once they've paid you." Presumably it doesn't recommend creating laughably easy passwords.
By mikkimoose July 10, 2007 - 8:37 pm
hmm, errorgorilla best not to make things up, YouTube doesn't allow five attempts before locking the account – I just tried now, and I entered far more than that and it did not lock my account.A complete fabrication.
By Manic July 10, 2007 - 8:47 pm
It could be that a temporary IP block or something similar applies for Google accounts, but not YT – or vice-versa. There's a been a lot of confusion about that today.I doubt it's worth much personal processing time, though… I mean, '1234'? Come *on*….
By errorgorilla July 11, 2007 - 6:24 am
Would it be uncharitable to invite Mikkimoose to spit-shine my arse? I've just tried again: the fifth attempt elicits a warning and the sixth attempt causes the message "You had too many login failures. Please wait before trying to log in again" to appear. I'm now keying in my correct password and access is still blocked. Not locked Mikki. Blocked.
By Manic July 11, 2007 - 7:26 am
Again, this could simply come down to the difference between attempting to login under a Google account and an old-skool YT one… which did you use for this experiment, errorgorilla?
By errorgorilla July 11, 2007 - 4:59 pm
Erm, Old Skool YouTube I think. I even wore my Adidas Gazelle and clicked my iPod to Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang to really give it that back-in-the-day flavour.
By Jim Bliss July 12, 2007 - 9:59 am
errorgorilla,Just to clarify… the Grant Shapps version of events is one of the most ridiculous things I've read on the internet (I know, just stop for a moment and think about *that*). The idea that someone would hack the account of a Tory MP in order to post a message pretending to be a LibDem supporter just makes no sense. And Shapps is insulting the intelligence of anyone he expects to believe such drivel.*But*, I've just created a test YouTube account with the password 1234 and then tried to log in using the wrong password. I gave it 10 attempts before I got bored, and the account never locked or got blocked.I'm not disputing anything you say. I suspect, as manic points out, it's a result of YT having multiple log-in systems.
By Philip C January 28, 2011 - 11:09 pm
I read this post following a link from twitter. I am now being followed on twitter by Grant Shapps. Can anyone explain how he would know who is reading this post – and why he might feel the urge to follow those reading it. New to twitter and blogging so quite confused!
By Tim_Ireland January 29, 2011 - 2:44 pm
Shapps would be unaware you had read this unless you had tweeted a link to it. Also, given his past conduct, he appears to be the type of Tory that DOESN'T connect with people with opposing views, so it seems unlikely he would follow you on the basis of you having read/tweeted this article. Just for your peace of mind.
By @SnoopyChicken August 19, 2011 - 8:59 am
I don't think it's ever been possible to have a youtube account password with less than 6 characters, if it was created since google took over than that will prevent you from making stupid passwords like 1234
By FlammableF September 3, 2012 - 1:33 pm
Philip C – he may well be following his own advice from HowToCorp on "How To Build a BIG List" http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/02/gr…
He apparently follows and unfollows ~450 people/day….
By ckcosts September 4, 2012 - 2:18 pm
don't youtube passwords have to be at least 8 characters long?
By Tim_Ireland September 4, 2012 - 1:25 pm
If you look in the other comments above, you will see a years-old debate about that. Happily, if Grant were telling anything near the truth, he would have some documentation from Google and/or the police by now. (waits with near-saintly patience)
By Grant Shapps May 3, 2013 - 10:35 am
Personally, I think it shows Grant Shapps has a very good sense of humour, what a fellow! I'd vote for him.
By Tony April 2, 2015 - 11:03 am
VERY interesting reading, given the recent Grant Shapps/Michael Green disclosures.
I agree – it's laughable that a person who holds himself out as an internet marketing guru (Michael Green) can, in another persona, be so stupid as to use (or expect everyone to believe he used) as password as insecure as "1234".
I mean, really??!?