Archive for the ‘The Political Weblog Movement’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at November 7, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

How does that speech made by Hazel Blears warrant careful analysis? It only barely qualifies for a link.

The name-dropping is an obvious plea for attention, which ironically rewards two attention-seekers with the star billing they crave from others (when they’re not awarding it to each other), and this sentence reveals that whoever wrote Blears’ speech did little more than a surface scan of our community before passing judgement on it:

“The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes.”

That the word ‘nihilism’ would be included in the same sentence that uses Iain Dale as a positive contrast to Paul Staines shows that the author can’t even use Google properly.

(Psst! Add to your list of absurdities that Paul Staines was invited to speak on the subject of “why transparency in lobbying matters” this week.)

UPDATE – Alix Mortimer – Some cynical nihilism, or, a revolution in the People’s Republic

Posted by Tim Ireland at November 3, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Further reports are coming in of Andrew Gilligan making comments about his articles while pretending to be someone other than himself.

I’m waiting to see a firm denial from Gilligan. When you’re ready, Andrew….

Meanwhile, bloggers who suspect that they may be a victim of these shenanigans may want to check their stats/back-end for visits from ‘Associated Newspapers Ltd’ (and/or the IP range –

UPDATE – Dave Hill challenges Gilligan on sock-puppeting on the Guardian website, prompting this ‘denial’ involving comments made under the ‘kennite’ profile, made using Gilligan’s usual profile:


Nov 03 08, 4:06pm


Kennite is my partner. Is that allowed? I’ve always been perfectly happy, as you acknowledge, to point out the shortcomings in your journalism under my own name. Even by the standards of the Ken Left, it strikes me as more than usually bizarre to accuse me of concealing my true views about our former mayor and his online fan club.

It’s also good to see such a sure sense of priorities. On the day of a major mayoral policy launch about a trivial subject like knife crime, you’re focusing on the issues that really matter.


The ‘fascist’ tag is pretty subtle, but there’s a clear attack on Hill, and the “Don’t you have anything better to do (than catch me cheating)?” tactic is textbook.

And, of course, there’s the statement that ‘kennite’ is a partner, which isn’t quite a denial.

Life partner? Business partner? Did ‘Kennite’ post the comments or did A.G. post the comments using their profile?

And this does nothing to explain the trail of anonymous comments he has left in his wake elsewhere.

UPDATE – Behind the bluster you will find long silences, careful words and few denials from Andrew Gilligan. This thread is now officially interesting. Beware of trolls.

Posted by Tim Ireland at November 1, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Just in case anybody wants a word. You know; to me and not about me. Cheers.

(Be prepared to be left waiting. Indefinitely. That’s how the pros do it… or so I’m led to understand.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 31, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Lib Dem Voice – The curious case of Nadine Dorries’s website traffic: …the claim of 800,000 readers (or any reasonable variation on the term ‘readers’) looks to be wrong. I twice contacted Nadine Dorries’s office asking for an explanation or correction, once by email and once by phone, but have not received any response

1. Perhaps Mark could ask Nadine a question about her claims. On her ‘blog’ that doesn’t allow comments.

More below the fold ————————————->


Posted by Tim Ireland at October 30, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

The Tory Troll appears to have caught Andrew Gilligan sock-puppeting. (via)

The part that really stings is the link to the ‘kennite’ profile, and comments like this.


UPDATE – Hahahahahahahahaha! Ouch! Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch!

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 29, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

(a ‘long and boring’ post on a subject that fascinates me)

Some of you chaps must think me a bit odd to be constantly putting myself in the line of fire when it was established long ago that champion ‘bloggers’ Iain Dale and Paul Staines won’t hesitate to censor threads, retro-moderate posts, hide behind anonymous abuse and tolerate outright sock-puppeting (and worse) from their allies.

But damn it all, it’s educational material for a growing community.

And this time, it’s not me in the firing line, but Iain Dale…

Iain’s banked a lot on his latest pop at peacemaking, but recently he wasted time chasing* yet another passing ambulance and ended up falling over his own feet and then under the wheels. Entirely.

[*Iain does this a lot, this scrambling to be part of one issue or another, which is why it is more conspicuous when he avoids issues that are not as favourable to the Tories and/or his friends as they could be.]

Here’s the post that did the damage:

Iain Dale – Don’t Throw All the Blame at Ross & Brand

And here comes the educational (i.e. ‘long and boring’) part:

First of all, this issue is going to draw out of the woodwork those people who will to take any opportunity to damage the BBC and/or press their case for a change to the licence fee system. There are also people who don’t get/like Russell Brand and/or don’t get/like Jonathon Ross, and you don’t have to be all three to end up mouthing off without really thinking things through or (*gasp*) considering more than your own viewpoint/agenda.

There is also one unapologetic user of sock-puppets on the loose in the relevant thread who has no love for Iain, and at least one unapologetic user of sock-puppets nearby if not in the thread who would have Iain’s babies if he asked.

You also have to remember that all of this is happening in an environment where Iain, by continuing with his bad habit of tolerating anonymous abuse when it’s in his favour, actually encourages the use of anonymity and sock-puppetry on both** sides, even though he spends a lot of his time denouncing the practice.

[**There are many people who will not comment under their own name or usual ID because they see no point in exposing themselves to anonymous abuse from Iain’s regular supporters. So because the people fighting Iain’s corner anonymously attack anyone who opposes or contradicts Iain and are allowed to get away with it, these people start to comment anonymously also. Then the people fighting Iain’s corner start to pretend to be more than one person in order to ‘outnumber’ the opposition and make contradictory arguments without contradicting themselves, and the whole thing spirals into the sewer from there. Take a look at the present state of the site of Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) to see where this is headed, and please note that we are talking about a wider view over time here, and not describing a development specific to this thread.]

So into the thread we go:

Thread marker #1

At October 28, 2008 4:54 PM , Martin said…

Good to know you are the side of people who make abusive and offensive phone calls, Iain. We should always put the blame fairly on the people who don’t cover things up properly. It’s the Tory way.

At October 28, 2008 5:03 PM , Iain Dale said…

Martin, your comment qualifies for idiotic comment of the day. I haven’t defended their despicable calls at all. I just think threat the producers deserve the blame for the fact it was ever transmitted. Read the headline again.

Iain’s first mistake is taking what appears to be the easy way out, by only answering an obvious troll*** from a known troller with a brusque slap-down.

[***A more complex and one-sided example of this technique can be seen here.]

In a thread with more supporters, this technique can and frequently does work for Iain, as often there will be a number of people (some each pretending to a number of different people) answering other comments and/or countering other points for Iain with facts/lies/distractions/distortions/abuse/love-custard.

But there is less of that kind of intervention here, mainly due to Iain picking the wrong word (twice) in an ill-advised post.

So from this point on a wave of perceived contempt begins to build as more and more people enter the thread and encounter one unanswered question/challenge after another before they themselves settle on the nature/tone of their own comment.

Iain further compounds the problem and adds to the wave of perceived contempt by responding in the post instead of mucking in on the thread. When doing so, he also makes the mistake of blaming his error on the reader(s); making this gesture appear to be even more arrogant:

UPDATE: People seem to have got the wrong end of the stick here, possibly because I used the word ‘entirely’.

Meanwhile, some familiar faces are beginning to appear (i.e. regular posters who only use one ID and/or are making this kind of comment under their main ID) and – while they may not lay into Iain with flying fists, they do make it clear which side of the debate they stand on… and generally, it’s not with Iain in this thread.

Close allies are noted by their (presumed) absence+, which can only make any anonymous attacker(s) bolder.

What’s also missing here (through no fault of Iain’s) is a clear/central role involving the Labour Party; even though there is at least one individual clearly trolling, no-one is yelling ‘troll’ in this thread. Brown gets a passing a mention and there are some vague suggestions of Daily Mail readers chipping in, perhaps without declaring an interest, but (and this is partly Iain’s fault) no-one is indentifying trolls when there are clearly trolls about or being anywhere near as wary of sock-puppets as they should be****, because these words have been reduced to meaningless partisan barbs and whines after endless false accusations in Iain’s threads (that are SFA to do with my ongoing attempts to see this nonsense curtailed and more to do with certain parties seeing ‘NuLab’ conspiracies behind every contributor not toeing the Tory line).

[****Just for starters; the mob descending on Iain is not as large as it appears.]

In fact, about the only thing that might be seen to be in Iain’s favour at this stage is the fact that he already has comment moderation on; nothing gets published without his say-so, and he doesn’t need to ‘retreat’ to this position.


1. Because Iain is busy playing peacekeeper elsewhere, comments are left uncleared for long periods of time and then published in chunks, which results in a confused and disjointed thread where there is little chance of anything approaching a conversation and a greatly increased risk of some people needlessly repeating hits/points/challenges (not knowing that they have already been made and are merely awaiting clearance).

2. It also makes it near-to-impossible for anyone but Iain to ask folks to stop and take stock of this or that in order to calm the thread. Iain certainly can’t do that at this late stage because it would involve skipping a large number of points/challenges raised by an unknown number of people, many of whom could in this thread be people who would otherwise support him. And an outsider can’t do it, because any such attempt that doesn’t benefit from perfect timing will most probably be buried in surrounding flames when it is eventually published.

3. Finally, the use of comment moderation leaves us in little doubt that it is Iain Dale who is primarily legally and morally responsible for any libel that might creep into the thread.

I think this serves as a fine example of something that might be considered libel and (if you’re reckless enough to think/act this way) could lead to action against an ‘insignificant’ blog, even if it does involve a target (or targets) in less-than-advantageous circumstances:

Thread marker #2

In this context, I’m confident that I can use this as an illustrative example, but this is not a smart thing to publish when the topic is the potential dismissal of two presenters, each with their own history including a significant/successful battle with substance abuse. (Alcohol for Ross, heroin and alcohol and just about everything else for Brand. But neither of them would be pleased to be accused of cocaine use at the present time, and neither of them should have to put up with baseless accusations about it, and the law is on their side.)

And here to help me to close the lesson is Iain Dale.

No, seriously.

Keeping in mind that Iain turned on comment moderation a few days ago (and so reads every comment before he decides to publish anything), it is easy to see that, in the very post that started it, Iain Dale himself expresses his opinion that he alone is responsible for the disaster this thread has become:

Iain Dale – Don’t Throw All the Blame at Ross & Brand

As I understand it this was a pre recorded show. While the phone calls were distasteful and ill judged, Brand and Ross are not to blame for the fact that they were transmitted. The fault lies entirely with the programme’s producer and editor. It is they who should be called to account for this debacle.

I personally disagree; I think Iain is primarily, and not entirely, responsible for the disaster this thread has become.


UPDATE(ISH) – While I was writing this (around 11pm), someone – *sigh* – anonymously submitted the following comment which identifies some major factors. It was cleared for publication at about midnight when I was tidying and spill-chucking.

Thread marker #3

At October 28, 2008 10:54 PM , Anonymous said…

“But the fire being directed at them over Brand’s phone call to Andrew Sachs is entirely misdirected.”

Iain, you suffer the same personality disorder as the BBC. You cannot, never, admit you are wrong.

How can you write the above statement saying ‘entirely’ and then claim your readers have got ‘the [wrong] end of the stick’?

Please, admit you are wrong. You have been soundly battered by your readers.

However, I have noticed you often betray a childish petulance when you are contradicted

(Psst! I could’ve written most of that myself. But it’s not my fault that there’s any uncertainty.)

Please excuse the minor housekeeping notices attached to this post. They have to go somewhere, and both are directed at proven and unapologetic users of sock-puppets.

(Hendren: Even when rewriting history and bravely making false assertions in an environment where you know they won’t be corrected or challenged by your target, you manage to contradict yourself. And that’s all you’re getting, sorry. I do not want to make the mistake of winding you up over your proven sock-puppeting antics and baseless accusations to the point where you’re calling my house and disrupting my private life again. So you ‘win’ that thread. Well done.)

(‘Martin’/Lobster/Dip: It was clever of you to ‘out’ yourself while the heat’s off and almost everyone is looking elsewhere. But what good is an identity with no credibility? And how is it in any way fair to attack someone’s reputation without banking your own against what you have to say? And that’s all you’re getting, sorry. No traffic or linky-love for you. It should be enough that a troll of yours got some attention and actually turned out to be useful for once.)

UPDATE (9:30am) – Some minor links and corrections have been added. Oh, and this:

[+ It should have occured to me last night that Iain’s closest ally Phil ‘Dizzy’ Hendren isn’t likely to turn up in this thread under his main ID, because he is fond of making nuisance calls himself, and Iain has yet to condemn that on his blog. I can’t see either of them wanting to open up that can of worms with so many people on the warpath about the calls made by Ross and Brand, and the unanswered question about where Hendren got my ex-directory number still hanging in the air.]

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 27, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Skip to #5 if you’re in a hurry….


Hey, do you remember that rigged poll of weblogs that Iain Dale claimed was “not meant to be scientific, and has never pretended to be”…?

Well, he’s already presenting it as scientific evidence of the natural dominance of the right.

That didn’t take long, did it?


There are several lies in his list (and the list itself is a lie), but one of the biggest ones is about the Nadine Dorries ‘blog’ being the work of one person. And Iain Dale was present when Nadine Dorries declared that she has to email her articles to a member of her staff so they can upload them (because she’s too witless to manage even this by herself), so he can’t even rely on the old stand-by of claiming ignorance.

I say ‘bigger’ lie mainly because of the potential scale of consequence (Iain also appears to have forgotten how cosily his website and Total Politics have overlapped recently, and a whopper of a lie hides behind his claim that Ashcroft’s money doesn’t at least grease the wheels); the Nadine Dorries ‘blog’ that she has gone to great lengths to visibly distance from her expenses cannot function without help from staff members.

If those members of staff are paid for out of expenses… well, she’s neck deep in s**t all over again, isn’t she?


Meanwhile, it’s not the first time that claims like these have been made on Iain’s site, but this fresh set is quite exceptional, and Iain has published these anonymous smears even though he (a) presently has the luxury of comment moderation, and (b) is only avoiding answering questions about his status with the PCC because he claims to be ignoring me.

You cannot claim to be ignoring someone and publish lies about them at the same time; the two positions are contradictory.

And this is a lie. A big, fat lie:

“So that’s two visits from Tim Ireland, posting anonymously, in one night Iain.”

No, it’s not. I don’t care how many IP addresses these anonymongrels ‘see’ (that are invisible to everyone but themselves and the magical interweb pixies that speak to them), and I don’t give a tuppeny stuff even if I am the only person in the world who pauses to type ‘sigh’ (and I’m pretty sure that I’m not); nobody can prove that this happened because it didn’t happen.

But Iain is going to leave that lie in place, just like he does all the others. And next time I take him to task over it, he’s probably going to scream “Liar!” in my face. Or maybe he’ll just sit back and let someone else do it for him. Anonymously.

(Of course, because I am banned from Iain’s website for complaining about anonymous abuse, the only way I can have any hope of a right of reply to these is to respond…. anonymously. Can you spot the clever trap?)


Hasn’t it been fun watching Iain Dale and Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’ ) try to turn the Osborne and Mandy story on Mandy all week?


Paul Staines’ take on the Sunday papers is particularly revealing. Reading that run-down, you might get the impression that the only story focusing on Osborne was some old mud dug up by a mucky tabloid… but you’d be wrong. Here’s just one story that Staines ‘missed’.

You won’t get any denial here; Mandelson is a money-grubbing liar, and no revelation about his meetings with billionaires would surprise me.

But this is totally uncalled for:

Richard Littlejohn is pushing the gay=paedophile lie.

Perhaps Iain Dale would care to condemn that. Then again, perhaps he’ll just let it lie because it suits his political purposes.


I’m getting nothing but an embarrassed silence from the Independent about their publication of a lie that Iain is quite fond of; that he has hundreds of thousands of monthly readers. Iain has since suggested that this must have been an innocent mistake, but this ‘mistake’ seems to follow him around an awful lot.

Even Iain’s engagement agent appears to be confused:

Specialist Speakers: Iain is Britain’s best recognised and leading political blogger with more than 300,000 regular readers a month…

And look… Iain’s friend Nadine Dorries is at it, too:

Bedford Today: Ms Dorries said: “…. according to Google I had 800,000 readers in July.”

Bull. Dust.

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 20, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Short version:

Scroll down to the picture.

Long version:

Hey, do you remember when I wrote a rather complicated (and greatly estimated) post about Iain Dale vastly overstating his popularity and Iain responded by (oops) accidentally making it very easy for me to prove and explain how he had been cheating?

Well, pretty much the same thing has just happened, only without me having write a rather complicated (and greatly estimated) post.


After weeks of Iain’s ducking, diving over his dodgy poll of weblogs I was left with some data that might have done the job. Not only did I have to research 70+ blogs from a list that Iain could reject as definitive at any time, but there was also a lot of wriggle-room for Iain to claim that this blog wasn’t formally Conservative and that right-wing community was owned by a leftie and so on and so forth. Big headache.

Then Iain, bless him, dumped sterling silver and solid gold right in my lap.

(A link to the precise moment of discovery. For completists only.)

It is and always has been my position that the Total Politics poll of political weblogs was skewed way, way waaaaay over to the right (and heavily in favour of Iain and his mates way, way waaaaay over to the right).

And here’s the proof:

Compare the top 10 ‘most popular’ blogs from that poll (1,140 participants) to the top ten that resulted from Iain’s recent reader survey (“more than 1,100*” participants).

They are almost identical.

Further, Iain asked those taking his survey specifically about their voting habits; 70% of them are Conservative voters.

Here is a nifty image that explains it all. Feel free to borrow it.

The Total Politics poll is a sham

(Psst! I should have spotted this before I wrote the fine print for my picture, but Iain did ask who reads him daily in a different queston, and even though he neglected to include himself, he officially tops his survey chart, with 83% of his readers reading him at least once a day.)

Now, lately the Tories are doing well in general polls conducted by reputable professionals, and the departure of Prime Methadone Tony Blair did bring a lot of them out of the woodwork and into the blogosphere, but there’s no way in hell that Iain is going to find a poll showing that 70% of blog readers are Conservative voters, unless he conducts that poll in his own backyard.

And in his backyard is exactly where his Total Politics poll was conducted, attracting maybe a dozen or so more participants than his reader survey, and producing almost exactly the same ‘top ten’ result.

Iain can carry on saying the poll “wasn’t meant to be scientific and never pretended to be” if it makes him feel better and perhaps he can even mockingly feign surprise that the majority of his readers are Conservative voters if it brings him joy, but such disingenuous nonsense falls apart the moment he involves a major sponsor (for the third scam running) and slaps a ‘Total Politics’ label on this latest round of self-promoting, Tory-serving bullshit.

Total Politics brands itself as ‘politically neutral’, and this poll of blogs is anything but.

This poll is, essentially, a poll of Conservative voters.

My thanks to Iain for finally confirming that, even if (oops) he didn’t mean to.

(Note – All of this leaves aside Dale’s childish refusal to honour my boycott of the poll, the stupidity of a wannabe politician being the sole counter and auditor of votes in a poll where he is in the running, and the absurdity of a man play-acting as a champion of bloggers when he is in fact an old-fashioned broadcaster with no taste or regard for accountability.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 16, 2008

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

[Note – Yes, I still have what ‘blog poll’ data I could gather at the time saved, and I plan to crunch it when I have the time. Of course, Iain Dale himself could sort the whole matter out in maybe two minutes with some simple referral stats for his polling page(s) for the month of the poll, but that’s not going to happen, is it? I would also like it noted for the record that Iain Dale has clear views on the need for outside auditing. For others. Not for himself. Iain is far too perfect for that. Now let’s crack on…]

Total PoliticsThe Publisher

Following some childish shenanigans where Iain Dale used his ‘professional’ magazine to settle a personal score (more), I made several futile attempts to contact that publisher via email.

Instead of responding to that email, Iain thought it would be fun to play a little game…

Because the whole fuss began with Iain failing to receive an email (or merely claiming that he had failed to receive it) I went looking for acknowledgement of receipt of a relevant email that was directed and addressed to him as Publisher of Total Politics. Iain then replied via personal email only to confirm receipt of almost every email bar the one that counted. Repeated and quite explicit requests to confirm receipt of the original email led only to confirmation of receipt of the emails requesting confirmation. And so on and so forth.

Cute. And a pretty good indication of bad faith, I would venture.

The Editor

When I tried to contact Total Politics Editor Sarah MacKinlay through the contact details provided on their website, I was at first ignored, and then blindsided during a polite phone call with some bizarre histrionics (I was accused of being “aggressive” and not going through ‘formal’ channels, then cut off).

So much for discussing the matter sensibly with the Editor.

The only senior contact option left to me at Total Politics was…

The Executive Editor

Shane Greer is the Executive Editor of Total Politics. During a particularly unpleasant exchange with Paul ‘Guido Fawkes’ Staines this year when every right-wing blogger and his dog was having a go at me, Greer chose to ignore the central issue and take sides in a very personal way by declaring me to be “obviously unbalanced”, grouping me with a convicted stalker, and refusing/deleting any meaningful response to this.

I did not see any point in attempting to contact Shane Greer about this matter, and I’m sure any reasonable person can understand why.

The PCC (Press Complaints Commission)

So… raising my hands and admitting (*gasp*) that there might even be fault on both sides here, what we’re left with is two parties in dispute, communications in a state of total breakdown from the off, and a need for mediation.

And in the UK magazine industry, that is normally where the Press Complaints Commission comes into the picture.

Or not.

Because I found out while making my initial enquiries that the political magazine Total Politics is not answerable to the Press Complaints Commission!

In fact the PCC had never even heard of the magazine until I called them. At all.

I don’t need a long paragraph here explaining that politics is a particularly sensitive, volatile, and high stakes media field, do I?

No? Good. Let’s move on, then…

Here is the later confirmation of this disgraceful state of affairs from the PCC:

I can confirm that the current position is that Total Politics does not formally subscribe to the system of regulation overseen by the PCC.

Over 98% of titles do subscribe to the PCC and the Code. We also handle complaints informally against titles that do not subscribe.

But, really, what’s the point when Iain Dale has already placed his magazine outside of its influence and refused to conform to a standard of quality and responsibility accepted by 98% of magazines?

Oh, do excuse me; I just assumed bad faith. Perhaps Iain Dale has merely overlooked this ‘minor’ matter… for about six months.

Perhaps this is something I should discuss with the editorial board dedicated to “keeping Total Politics on track”… but not before offering Iain Dale something he refuses me on his website and now, apparently, in his magazine; a right of reply.

Over to you, Iain.


[Psst! This follows Iain Dale playing a major role in a political television station not subject to Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code and his repeated refusal to address or correct minor ‘errors’ (like this push for an apology from Sunny Hundal) on his ‘blog’. A pattern emerges, and it doesn’t take a genius to spot it; Iain Dale is a man who seeks power without accountability. He’s also a man who’s willing to be the sole counter and auditor of votes in a political poll where he himself is in the running but, as I’ve said; that’s for another time.]

UPDATE (11am 17 Oct) – Iain Dale actually confirmed receipt for the relevant email this time around (in a personal not professional capacity, I noticed), but he has not responded beyond this, or issued any statement about his failure/refusal to subscribe to the system of regulation overseen by the PCC. You would think this would be an issue for the publisher of a political magazine, but it appears not. I have just emailed all of the members of the Total Politics editorial board that I could find contact details for. Perhaps this will lead to progress. Let’s see.

Oh, and Sim-O notes here that Iain Dale’s policy on his magazine appears to be the same as that for his blog; if he publishes something about you that you’re unhappy with, he’ll kindly think about changing it, but if he refuses, you’re welcome to… erm… walk away and leave him to it. Oh well. At least that beats being called a “bitch” and told to “piss off”.

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 15, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Nice to see Iain Dale being so open about the influence of Policy Exchange for a change; most days he’s busy denying their influence.

On one notable occasion when Iain Dale was a Trustee of Policy Exchange and denying their influence, I tripped over Nick Boles.

Nick Boles was at the time the Director of Policy Exchange (which is, for those who don’t know, a large right-wing think tank with charity status) and also wanted to be the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London.

In fact, he wanted this so much that he was willing to use Policy Exchange as an administrative base for a personal website with that party-political aim (more), which is a bit naughty and just the kind of concept that friends of Iain Dale struggle to understand.

So…. the Founder Director of Policy Exchange wants to be Mayor of London, and now (*gasp*) he works for the Mayor of London, along with a whole lot of other people from Policy Exchange who now work for the Mayor of London as advisers* and what have you.

(*Perhaps one of the i-dotting or t-crossing bloggers would care to make a full job list for the record.)

It has not escaped notice that Boris Johnson has been on a leash, pretty much since he was convinced to become a candidate.

That leash is held by Policy Exchange people, and I’ve been watching it get tighter.

I’m sorry if I seem to sell Boris short on this, but no matter how much he might think he is in control, when the bulk of his data and advice comes from Policy Exchange drones, the fix is in from the very beginning.

The initial rush of Policy Exchange people into staffed positions from the moment of his election should have been signal klaxon enough for me, but it wasn’t until Boris innocently enquired about my “disagreement” with Anne Milton that I began to get truly worried.

(That matter involved a website produced by her activists that made groundless claims of paedophilia and stopped about a micron short of inciting violence. Boris, who knew this, was treating it like a disagreement over a croquet shot. You know those letters you write and then throw away before they get near a stamp or your outbox? I’ve got one of those. It’s a one-word letter to Boris that I didn’t send a few months ago. It reads; “Disagreement?!”)

And now Boris is showering former Policy Exchange trustee Iain Dale with – let’s be frank, here – a quite absurd level of purposeful praise… well, let’s just say that there’s very little room for doubt any more.

Boris is at the moment so far gone that he may as well be living in a foreign land, and in a way he is.

The Policy Exchange gang wishes to control Boris Johnson, right down to what he says and who he says it to, and so far they’ve quite successful

I look forward to them popping up and denying it… when they’re not quite so busy congratulating themselves over it.

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