Archive for the ‘The Political Weblog Movement’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 9, 2009

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I almost didn’t enter or plug this competition because of the money they put in Staines’ pocket via a MessageSpace ad, but I figured it’d be a pretty poor competition without any real art… and I know of several people ’round our way who make good art with the words and like that.

So (a) I’ve entered, and (b) here is the plug, so you can consider entering yourself:

The Orwell Prize – SPECIAL PRIZE for blogs

Running alongside the Book Prize and Journalism Prize this year, submissions… close on 14th January 2009, for all work published for the first time in the calendar year 2008… The Orwell Prize rewards those who achieve George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Entries should therefore be of equal excellence in style and content.

So, fellow bloggers, you have until next Wednesday to browse through your archives and come up with 10 entries that best indicate how jolly talented and clever you are.

Don’t be shy, now.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 9, 2009

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

WARNING: There’s a gang of thugs on the loose that like to use personal data as a tool for bullying. It’s less a massive conspiracy, and more of a ‘bad neighbourhood’; the result of a poor moral/debating standard that’s common throughout most of the right-wing blogosphere in the UK. Standing conspicuously at the centre of it all is the website of Paul Staines and the comments he runs like an open sewer… where personal attacks and multiple personality shenanigans are widespread and openly tolerated until someone dares lay a blow on the author (or something/someone he supports).

Allow me to show you (for the umpteenth time) what this kind of thing leads to:

Tory activists associated with Conservative MP Anne Milton tried it on me. At least one of the people involved in that incident was a self-proclaimed fan of the ‘Guido Fawkes’ website, active in the comments, and both were fans of using sock-puppets to attack opponents.

‘Top’ Tory blogger Phil Hendren tried it on me. He also is a long-time comment contributor to the ‘Guido Fawkes’ website, and a fan of using sock-puppets to attack opponents.

Paul ‘Guido Fawkes’ Staines tried it on me himself once in his own special way (with Donal Blaney’s help); he’s even made creepy “back off and you won’t get hurt” type comments in the direction of people he thinks I am married to. Paul Staines is also highly adept in the use of sock-puppets to assault and silence critics (and has been caught red-handed in a personal sock-puppeting, defending himself while pretending to be somebody else, the sad bastard).

And now we have this:

Old Holborn – Blog closed and GONE

This is my last post

Today, a fellow Libertarian decided to post my name , address, email address, business address, photo of me and my children on the web. Because he was angry with me over my stand on Israel.

Tonight, my wife and family have read the consequent death threats and insults to them that have poured in and asked me to close this blog.

Many people now know where I live, where my children go to school, how I earn my crust and I will not put my family at any further risk.

So I am closing my blog.

It has been fun, I have thoroughly enjoyed it but now I must think of me and mine.

I thank all of you for your support.

I will be deleting this blog in 5 days time from now. They won. I knew they would.

The douche bag that published links to OH’s personal data was ‘Obnoxio The Clown’.

Both ‘Old Holborn’ and ‘Obnoxio The Clown’ are regular comment contributors to… the ‘Guido Fawkes’ website.

In fact (and some people are struggling to have sympathy with the chap because of this) it was on the ‘Guido Fawkes’ website as well as his own that ‘Old Holborn’ showed his willingness to name names and publish photos and other personal data relating to the Baby P case… in violation of a court order, no less. A difference in scale, one might argue, but not of principle.

(Paul Staines would love to pass this off as an ‘everyone stops at Waterloo station’ thing in order to duck responsibility and/or deflect negative attention away from the two-bit banner advertising network that benefits from the resulting page-load overloads, but the brutal truth of it is that Phil ‘Dizzy’ Hendren and ‘Obnoxio The Clown’ are key comment contributors on his site, and often the first in line willing to kick heads when Staines feels he can’t defend himself on his own damn ‘blog’. Staines also likes to claim that he’s been the victim of personal data bullying himself, but it is hard to tell how much of what he claims is truth when he is an almost-unrivalled bullshit artist to begin with, will scream ‘stalker’ at the drop of a hat, and leaves a mysterious money trail directly involving an unknown number of relatives for reasons that are still unclear.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 8, 2009

Category: Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The Political Weblog Movement

Let’s begin by going back to the Sun non-story that prompted this initial post:

The Sun – Islamic fanatics name Alan Sugar, Mark Ronson and Lord Levy in a hit list of Britain’s leading Jews: British anti-terror expert Glen Jenvey is convinced online forum Ummah is being used to prepare a deadly backlash against UK Jews. His warning came as Europe was hit by anti-Semitic attacks over Israel’s push into the Gaza Strip…. Mr Jenvey, 43, said: “The Ummah website has been used by extremists. “Those listed should treat it very seriously. Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs.”

It would now appear that this entire non-story actually began with Glen Jenvey feeding an unknown quantity of information to the Sun ‘news’ paper. Glen Jenvey bills himself in this bio as a ‘freelance terror investigator’, is described in this article as a ‘freelance intelligence agent’, and is described in his Wikipedia entry (that he regularly edits himself) as a former spy who now “uses the internet to infiltrate terrorist organisations.”

Search for his name in Google News and poke around ‘all years’, and you’ll see his name attached to quite a few terror-alert stories, with highlights including this one, which has a lovely Christmas theme throughout, and this ‘New Year’ warning in the Sun that is very recent indeed.

I would go into more detail (there is lots!) but for now, all you need is this and possibly the knowledge that some of Glen’s past exploits have – according to reports from his supporters – resulted in warnings and “threats of arrest” from the authorities.

Now, the Sun have in this article based their claim of militant Muslims targeting “Britain’s leading Jews” on comments made by ‘abuislam’, specifically in this passage:

“Abuislam” asks: “Have we got a list of top Jews we can target? Can someone post names and addresses?”

Though the Sun suggests otherwise, the only forum contributor pushing for anything other than a polite letter-writing campaign (details here) is posting under the name ‘abuislam’…. and I’m looking at evidence right now that strongly indicates that Glen Jenvey and ‘abislam’ are one and the same person.

In other words, he has created the very ‘militant’ content that the Sun has based their story on.

Further, in his quote he warns those listed to take the threat very seriously and to “expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs”… when he was the one who listed them, and was the only person talking about doing anything other than writing letters!

And, even if (BIG ‘if’) this was done in error somehow, Glen Jenvey hasn’t done anything I can see to correct it.

Here’s the detail:

A forum administrator at Ummah.com announced today that the ‘abuislam’ account was created by the same person who created an earlier account in the name of ‘Richard Tims’. They have documented proof of this in their back end.

The ‘Richard Tims’ account was used only to plug the website previously hosted at sellyourstory.org

sellyourstory.org: capture by linkmarket.netThe publication of this link appears to have been part of a July/August 2008 campaign by that site’s owner to improve the site’s performance in Google).

Two of the places used to generate inbound links just happen to be two sites that Glen Jenvey shares a bit of history with; Ummah.com (“Islamic stories wanted by the media world wide why not sell your story for cash http://www.sellyourstory.org”) and Lionheart (“Any hot news on islamic British based terrorist’s earn cash from http://www.sellyourstory.org”), but the clincher is this August 2008 link where he is listed as site owner (highlight mine):

ID: 2815
Title: Sell Your Story – http://www.sellyourstory.org
Pagerank: 0
Description: sell your story sellyourstory sell your story sell your photos sell your videos
Category: Business & Economy: News and Media
Link Owner: glen jenvey
Date Added: July 28, 2008 01:35:11 AM
Number Hits: 0

Similar listings with the same data can be seen here and here.

If Glen Jenvey really is a former spy, I would venture a guess that he was forced to retire because he wasn’t very good at it.

If his current job is sneaking around on Teh Internets, then I would even go so far as to suggest he’s not very good at that, either.

Judging by the way his websites keep getting excluded from Google and withdrawn from service, he should probably stay out of the SEO game, too.

Oh, and there’s also the small matter of the Sun basing a front page claim on – and quite possibly paying Glen Jenvey for – a warning about militant(ish) postings that he wrote himself.

Perhaps Mr Glen Jenvey would care to explain what’s going on here.








Posted by Tim Ireland at November 27, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

You might initially think that this issue pales into insignificance next to the million assumptions that simply must be made immediately about matters in Mumbai today, but I for one believe that the reliability of information is important across the political spectrum, and identity is often key to this online.

Take, for example, the comments about Andrew Gilligan and/or his articles that would look very different once confirmed to be from Andrew Gilligan or one of his close associates.

Take, as another example, the many newspapers desperate to belittle blogs and bloggers while simultaneously scrambling to get in on the action, and their typical approach to comment moderation; (refuse substantial criticism no matter where it comes from, and publish almost any damn thing that doesn’t harm them specifically… no matter where it comes from).

Most bloggers who have been talking about the Andrew Gilligan matter recently may have noticed a number of trolls seemingly designed to confuse the issue and mock concerns about the use of multiple false identities in the political arena.

Most if not all of these are the work of one man – Martin Wiesner – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Background

Martin Wiesner is billed here as the man who looks after communications for the Watford Area Green Party. Martin also ran as a Green candidate in 2004 Watford Borough Council Elections.

You most likely know him as ‘Lobster Blogster’ (CiF), one identity he carried on with for an extended period before adopting ‘Tory Dipper’ and then semi-outing himself as ‘Martin’ or ‘Pogsurf’ (CiF)… i.e. he somewhat belatedly declared a connection between some of his sock puppets, using an old nickname that – with research – might someday lead you to his real identity and some information about his political affiliations that he really should have declared in any number of instances in the first place.

As Lobster Blogster, Martin sought to involve himself with the whole Paul Staines thing and even earned a blogroll link on ‘Guido 2.0’. Eventually it emerged that we disagreed on the crucial matter of identity and accountability (i.e. the issue at the heart of my problems with Paul Staines, aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) but it wasn’t clear just how fundamental our differences were until I had cause to explore the edit history of a few entries at Wikipedia, most notably the entry for Paul Staines.

And on that note…

Wikipedia

Months ago, I asked Martin how many anonymous edits he had made to Paul Staines’ Wikipedia entry. His response can best be described as acidic distortion:

Hang on Ireland! You want my help now? Maybe you should have thought about that before you started slagging me off on the internet. (Tory Dipper stands accused of the most hideous of internet crimes, sock-puppetry. Tim has yet to present his case, but of course he has already been found guilty by Justice Ireland.)

Just for the record, Tory Dipper is completely unaware of any way to make anonymous edits on Wikipedia. The Dipper has edited Wikipedia in the past, but only ever using the methods described at Pseudonymity, so the correct answer to his e-mail is “none”.

Even with this ‘pseudonymity’ distortion in place (a pseudonym is often chosen for purposes of anonymity; only in some contexts are they separate concepts), Martin can easily be proved to be stupefyingly ignorant, forgetful, or a liar:

Most, if not all, of these anonymous edits were made by Martin Wiesner, who is clearly aware of how one might make anonymous edits on Wikipedia, but not wily enough, it appears, to avoid detection. I have evidence of my own that’s quite distinct from the assertions of experienced Wikipedia editors, and I’m willing to have it tested in court (not that Martin will want to do anything other than cast doubt upon that evidence, or me personally).

There’s more for those who care to poke around, but this response to his being indefinitely blocked from editing Wikipedia should be enough:

Please feel free to ban me again if you feel that is the right thing to do. There are many more names and IP addresses I could adopt, should the need arise.

Martin Wiesner is an unapologetic user of sock puppets (multiple false identities). This confirms it.

Sock-puppeting is regarded to be a harmless practice in some quarters, but not when sock-puppets are used in a way that impacts significantly on someone’s reputation, and certainly not when the democratic process is involved…

Haltemprice and Howden by-election, 2008

In the showcase by-election prompted by the resignation of David Davis, the Greens were significant players (in fact, their candidate came second).

Though he failed on the follow-through, Martin Weisner sought to involve himself in that by-election with a website that mocked David Davis. Most importantly, he did so without declaring his association with the Green Party. Especially in a field with so many players and the two main players bowing out, saying something like “It should be obvious I’m not a Tory” just isn’t good enough.

While the law has yet to catch up with reality (example), such antics are just as unacceptable as anonymous pamphlets in my view, and I suspect I’ll be just as busy dealing with this issue at the next general election as I have been during recent council elections and by-elections.

Martin’s current position on all of this is that I should be willing to live and let live… but this runs contrary to his actions that I’m objecting to in the first place, and even if I were to accept his reasoning on this front, we would still be left with the very real fact that I often get blamed for a lot of the crap that he does, which impacts on my reputation.

(Psst! Annoyingly, I even get blamed for a lot of the crap he does by a man who is himself an unapologetic user of sock-puppets; Phil ‘Dizzy’ Hendren.)

Martin is also prone to the use of outright distortion in his defence, and/or when throwing accusations in the face of his accusers (typically, just before retiring from the conversation).

One of the more worrying examples was his publishing a naked picture of himself (NSFW* link posted here) as ‘proof’ of his commitment to being more open about his identity in future or some such nonsense. When I referred to this bizarre action in a later email, the one-word reply from Martin was “Pervert!”

(*Link is also Not Safe For Lunch. You have been warned.)

Martin Weisner is currently dashing from website to website making a variety of attempts to confuse the Gilligan issue and/or mock Gilligan’s accusers, without declaring (never mind discussing or defending) his own position regarding the use of multiple false identities.

There’s more (so much more that the variety of attacks and the amount of time spent on these deceptions is alarming enough in itself), but this should be enough for most people who are considering the merits of banning Martin Weisner and his many sock-puppets from their weblogs.

Martin has 24 hours in which to respond under comments if he wishes to enjoy a right of reply, after which time he will be banned from this website.

If he persists with the use of distortions, diversions and groundless/irrelevant accusations, he will be banned immediately.

It is widely regarded as acceptable to blog on the subject of politics from behind a pseudonym, so long as your nicknames/accounts somehow clearly resolve to a single identity, you make it clear what your political allegiances are, and/or you avoid undeclared conflicts of interest.

It is widely regarded as totally unacceptable to use multiple/false identities in any act likely to impact on another person’s reputation, not least because you will have done so without banking your own reputation on what you have to say.

That is the act of a coward and a bully.

Where I come from, there is a clear difference between standing up to someone and punching them in the back of the head and running away.

There is no place for Martin Weisner’s antics in our community of political weblogs, and as long as he remains determined to continue with his antics, I would argue that there’s no place for Martin Weisner, either.

[This post will also be submitted to the Green Party as the body of my complaint about the conduct of this member.]

UPDATE (2pm) – A few typos and a minor omission corrected; I’d best note this just in case any changes are leapt upon and presented/distorted as ‘evidence’ of something or other. I am also announcing here an exception to my general privacy policy; email responses from Martin Wiesner are likely to be published in whole or in part, depending on how educational I feel they might be.

UPDATE (3pm) – Name fixed. It is Weisner, and not Wiesman, as some later sentences suggested before that fix. The variation resulted from my typing much of this on the train, and therefore going from memory on the name.








Posted by Tim Ireland at November 24, 2008

Category: Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement

Iain Dale has introduced compulsory comment registration on his weblog.

It’s on a trial basis, he’s pledged to give it more of a chance than he did last time, he clearly recognises the way in which the all-comers system was open to abuse, and his stated aim is to make his comment threads “more welcoming and less intimidating.”

So hooray.

This measure will, at the very least, make it more difficult for users of sock-puppets (multiple/false identities) to switch between identities. It will also reduce the number of instances where regular users slip behind a new identity or anonymity in order to deliver a swift sucker punch here or there.

I am now much happier with Iain Dale positioning himself as an ambassador for political weblogs, as I can confidently state this issue to be 90% of my problem with that (and with him personally); I did not want MPs and Councillors watching the way Iain used to conduct himself and using that as a model. Take, for example, what Nadine Dorries regards to be acceptable on her not-a-blog.

Also, in a different but equally welcome step toward accountability, Iain Dale’s magazine Total Politics is now signed up to the PCC Code of Conduct.

That’s another ‘hooray’, right there.

I will continue to treat the issue of the use and abuse of anonymous comments and multiple/false identities as a priority, which will rate equally with developing print-watch projects.

Happily, these two issues will overlap from time to time, saving me a great deal of time.

And on that note:

Adam Bienkov – What’s wrong with Andrew Gilligan?

So far, the only defence of Gilligan has been in the form of a time-wasting troll, and the only person likely to defend the alleged actions (an unapologetic user of multiple/false identities) has turned up, but wasted their time attacking Gilligan’s accusers.

Tellingly, evasive comments and attacks on his accusers are all Gilligan himself has had to offer; there’s been no denial beyond his vague claim that one single identity suspected to be under his control is an account held by his ‘partner’.

There hasn’t been a single comment credibly calling the evidence into question or defending the alleged actions. Also, news has emerged of past evidence of sock-puppetry.

Speaking softly hasn’t produced any results; I think the time has finally come for me to start hitting Andrew Gilligan with a stick.

Related bloggage:
Tom Watson – Being Andrew Gilligan
Matt Buck – Being Andrew Gilligan – or not
Liberal Conspiracy – Andrew Gilligan is becoming a laughing stock
Justin McKeating – Andrew Gilligan: sockpuppet and sockpuppeting
Boris Watch – That’s Enough, Gilligan
Five Chinese Crackers – A lesson in how tabloid journalism works from Andrew Gilligan








Posted by Tim Ireland at November 20, 2008

Category: Old Media, Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement

1. In-spired. Take a bow, Chris.

2. And to expand on the point raised in that picture, here’s Justin:

The crowning jewel of the story is that the BNP, who only this month called the Human Rights Act ‘surely one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation ever passed by the mother of Parliaments,’ and reiterated its promise to repeal it when the party – don’t laugh – becomes a ‘British Nationalist government’, have now asked the police to investigate breaches of the Human Rights Act.

3. I’ve highlighted this elsewhere; just a little something extra for those who don’t accept any of the main arguments for not sharing the BNP data. There are some people who will use any excuse to engage in a campaign of ‘data intimidation’:

“Redwatch justifies its content as a tit-for-tat reaction to leftist-oriented websites and magazines displaying similar content… However, Redwatch have been unable to provide details of any such websites or magazines. One of their few attempts to justify these claims has been to repeatedly cite a single press release published in August 2001… ” – (source)

4. A picture for you (also posted to b3ta). Adolf clicks ‘send’ instead of ‘save’:

5a. The above reminds me of the day Iain Dale accidentally CCed Phil Hendren on our private correspondence instead of BCCing him as he intended to. There’s no telling how often he does this or how long he’s been at it, but every time Iain has a question he’d rather avoid answering, Hendren will turn up to change the subject and/or have a go at me. Dale initially denied the whole BCC thing, BTW. Dale also (privately) denied providing Hendren with my unlisted home number, but he’s a shameless liar and Hendren keeps changing his vague story about where he got it, so I’m still not entirely sure if I’m buying Dale’s denial. And one day I’d like to see him deny it in public. Anyway, I mention all of this because Iain ‘ambulance chaser’ Dale has somehow managed to avoid blogging the biggest political story of the week, and I was looking forward to watching him denounce the use of personal data as a political weapon like he actually meant it.

5b. Top points to Phil Hendren for hiding this pathetic excuse in his post, though; “… if it was just a list of phone numbers (there) would be no means of identifying who the number belonged to from the number alone so it wouldn’t represent ‘personal data'”, apparently. Hendren says this because he likes to explain away his publication of my ex-directory number on his website as a scrap of harmless data blowing in the wind. That excuse may have worked on that P.O.S. ISP he manages servers and customer data for, but the fact is that Hendren threw my phone number in my face and published it on his site with the specific purpose of intimidating me into silence (just because he couldn’t admit that he was wr-wr-wr-wr-wr-wrong). Even if we accept his latest pathetic deceit, I doubt he’d be equally flexible if someone threatened him with a replica pistol.

5c. Paul Staines hasn’t mentioned the BNP data matter, either. Perhaps he’s worried about offending the far-right “window lickers” that populate his comments and eagerly eat up his anti-communist rants and casual racism. After all, one has to keep the traffic numbers up, and a visit is a visitor a visit is a visit. (MessageSpace can’t survive on affiliate links and similar performance-reliant ads alone, so from time to time they need to convince naive, weak-minded and/or desperate marketing bods that their two-bit advertising network can reach zillions of right wing window lickers discerning bloggers from across the political spectrum… mostly on blogs like Staines’ where until yesterday the whole design was held together by stealing bandwidth from Flickr.)

5d. Spy Blog notes how far behind the mainstream media are on this one. Could this perhaps have anything to do with their lazy reliance on the three self-publicising sell-outs listed above? (For example: Scotch noticed that Sky News yesterday heralded the response to PMQs from “all the blogs”, and then listed the reactions from… erm… Staines, Dale and Hendren.)

[/bunch of fives]

6. Alex Hilton, the left-leaning village gossip who happily chums it up with twats like Staines and Dale in return for scraps, turns out to be a bit of a twat himself. Who knew? Here he is attempting to goad MySociety folk into doing what he regards to be an obvious public service (via), and here is an admirably measured reply from a chap who has just essentially been called a coward because he won’t immediately rush to fill Hilton’s enormous skills gap:

“Alex – the moment you sacrifice the values and compromises that hold together liberal democracies (such as a presumption of innocence and a
right to privacy for people who’ve not actually been convicted of crimes) for the sake of humiliating your political opponents, you’re starting on a path far more likely to result in ruination for us all than a bunch of marginal wing nuts.” – Tom Steinberg

7. It’s just been brought up under comments on an earlier post that someone on the list who claims not to be a member has speculated that it is a marketing database and not a membership database which “might make it more problematic both for the BNP in terms of data protection and for those on the list,” but there’s also been some noise about names being added/removed from the list by those who released it. It’s a ‘wait and see’ on that one, I think.

8. I can mention this now that this version of the list has been removed from Google’s servers; Clive noticed that the Daily Fail blurred a name and address in their screen capture of the site that listed the BNP data, but left the URL of the site intact!!! Oh, *please* let the BNP sue the Daily Mail…..

UPDATE – Hahahahaha! The Daily Fail actually manage to be funny. Accidentally, of course.

UPDATE (21 Nov) – And now we have this inevitable yet precious jewel, also from Chris. The sequence starting 0:53 is bloody glorious, and I experienced a genuine ‘office LOL’ at the 3 minute mark. In fact, at times, it’s almost as if aaaalllll those ‘Downfall’ edits have been leading up to this moment. Enjoy:

(Oh, and when you’re done, do take the time to check out this little update from Bartholomew on the subject of right reverends.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at November 19, 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 specialistspeakers.com, but in an endearingly inept attempt at search engine optimisation, they’ve started an external half-a-blog at specialistspeakers.blogspot.com 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 Blogger.com – 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)

(waits)

[Psst! On 24 Oct (more) and 27 Oct, an account in the name of Jeremy Jacobs was used to add a link to specialistspeakers.com 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 specialistspeakers.com, 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 specialistspeakers.com, 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 November 17, 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 https://www.bloggerheads.com/ is written by a man (68%).”
Test #2: “We think http://www.chickyog.net/ is written by a man (74%).”
Test #3: “We think http://www.septicisle.info/ is written by a man (69%).”
Test #4: “We think http://www.order-order.com/ is written by a man (71%).”
Test #5: “We think http://iaindale.blogspot.com/ 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 November 17, 2008

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

1.

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

2.

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.]

3.

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.

4.

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.

5.

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.)

6.

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….

7.

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 November 11, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Tch. And to think that only last week he was returning from Teh Holy Land with a message of peace, mung-beans and understanding:

Iain Dale – Parliament Should Decide on Prisoners’ Voting Rights – Not Judges: When you go to jail you forfeit the normal rights you enjoy in society – your freedom, and indeed your right to choose the government. Yet now some unelected European judges are apparently about to force the British government to give prisoners the right to vote. This is something the LibDems have favoured for some time and it seems they are about to get their way. I wonder who Ian Huntley and Fred Rose West will vote for. This is nothing to do with human rights. It’s about whether judges, rather than Parliament, should be able to decide who votes in UK elections. What on earth is the point of Parliament if its sovereignty can be usurped like this? This has all arisen after the despicable John Hirst (who served 25 years for axing a woman to death) took the issue to the Court of Human Rights. Pity he never thought about the human right to live of the woman he killed, eh?

Judging by Iain’s judgmental tone, it’s less about the principle of sovereignty and more about the moral injustice of evil-doers having their wicked way with our democracy; he’s obviously so outraged about it that he can barely restrain himself.

In fact, Iain was so adorably strident at one stage that he appeared to forget that Fred West is a lifeless corpse and has been unable to vote or do any thing except decompose for well over a decade.

(The criminal dead are rising from their graves and voting Liberal Democrat! We must flee!)

And his views on a custodial sentence equalling a total suspension of liberties raise some interesting questions; like, for instance, where might one draw the line? When Iain’s drink-driving pseudo-blogging chum Paul Staines was tagged for 3 months and effectively under house arrest from 9pm to 6am, was he also not allowed to vote at nights?

But what should really get your attention in the wider scheme of things is the totally unnecessary attack on John Hirst that Iain launches while knowing that he plans to deny his target any right of reply.

(Iain Dale has banned John Hirst from commenting on his site, and has just now deleted Hirst’s attempt to respond to his post and switched on comment moderation. Is in unclear at this stage what justification Iain gave/gives for Hirst’s ban, because he keeps retro-moderating his ‘rules’ post without leaving the slightest hint about what has been changed or when. Also, his latest rules declare that you can be banned for making/repeating “spurious allegations” against the host. This seems fine on the surface of things until you realise that Iain thinks and acts like a petulant child when you confront him with evidence that he’s wrong/lying, and will forever remain in complete denial about what he will regard to be a “spurious allegation”. Any further attempt to address the matter will result in bullying and/or stonewalling tactics and mealy-mouthed accusations of you being dishonest or ‘unreasonable’ about the matter.)

I will remind you at this stage that Iain Dale presents himself as an ambassador for blogging at every opportunity he gets, despite his not actually standing by any of the principles he lays claim to when he does this.

For starters, there’s this habit of denying, manipulating, frustrating and complicating responses under comments (up to and including arbitrary bans) and going after people knowing that he is going to deny them a right of reply in this way, but this post is also typical in that Iain fails to link to a single item, group or individual mentioned in it.

[Psst! Did you know: Iain Dale didn’t even read a transcript of the relevant Ross/Brand show until the week after he passed judgement on it; 28 Oct, 2nd Nov.]

Related:
A Lanson Boy – But Dale is also an arse…








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