Archive for the ‘The Political Weblog Movement’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 17, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

George Osborne: Hypnotoad

(Dedicated to all those Tory bloggers who take emails from Osborne’s office and repeat them without question. Hat-tip to Hopi Sen for the inspiration.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 17, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

1. Watch Iain Dale cry ‘stalker’.

2. Hey, do you remember during the recent MessageSpace affair when ‘Dizzy’ (Phil Hendren) sent these emails suggesting he might call me at home on my ex-directory number?

3. Well, he’s gone one better;

Last week, Dizzy published my ex-directory phone number on his website in a clear attempt to intimidate me.

Yes, you read that last bit right; Dizzy objected to a point I raised so much that he published one half of my home phone number under comments on his website and told me to “fuck off”. When I attempted a reply, he deleted it and published the other half of my ex-directory number (and told me to “fuck off” again).

Dizzy also called me four times on that number that same afternoon (from a withheld number, natch).

To be fair to Dizzy (who himself has a bad habit of grouping/presenting data in a way that could easily be misinterpreted) I will present that in context, rather than imply that all four calls involved or amounted to harassment:

Call #1:

Dizzy called in a highly agitated state, and was quite literally screaming down the phone at me. This is not an exaggeration. He was screaming, he was yelling, he was not a man in control. He seemed quite annoyed that I would blog about what he had blogged because “it’s only text on a web page”. My pointing out that what I had blogged was also ‘only’ text on a web page did not go down at all well. He told me that I picked a very bad day to tangle with him, because he was in “the foulest of moods and having a really shit day at work”. I was also informed that I was wasting my time with “mad conspiracy theories” and that I should “get a grip”.

Call #2:

Dizzy thought it important to call again (in a somewhat calmer state) to say that he had not received my number from Iain Dale.

Call #3:

Dizzy called later that afternoon with the following:

“OK, write your post. Claim your moral victory. Whatever. Comments are deleted. Having a bad day. [details of claims of a personal crisis censored] And whatever. Bye.”

Call #4:

Dizzy called for the fourth and final time to say that other earlier references to my phone number on his website (that I had not seen until that day) could not be removed until later that evening.

There are only two bloggers hostile to me that have been provided with my home phone number; Iain Dale (background) and Ellee Seymour (background).

Ellee isn’t saying a damn thing.

Iain denies providing ‘Dizzy’ or anyone else with my number (yes, this is what I was talking about when I said that Iain needed me to trust him) but – regardless of who revealed what to Dizzy – I think Iain’s got a damn nerve implying in his email response that I might be guilty of harassment and then following that up with this ‘stalker’ post…. don’t you?

Epilogue: Dizzy announced on Saturday that he was taking a bit of a holiday.








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 13, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

New Statesman – Total Politics or Total Ashcroft?: Watch out Rupert Murdoch, take note Lord Rothermere – there’s a new media mogul in town. Lord Ashcroft of Belize, Tory bogeyman, is secretly bankrolling the new monthly freebie Total Politics, to be launched by the Con blogger and master of self-publicity Iain Dale. Your correspondent discovered Dale squatting in Ashcroft’s 7 Cowley Street basement lair when I paid an uninvited call to the Westminster block. Dale insisted the company was his, with Ashcroft a wealthy investor who’ll play no editorial role. Yet I suspect the involvement of the moneybags right-winger, whose tax status remains an international mystery, will hinder Dale’s attempt to present Total Ashcroft as “politically neutral”. (via)

Given 18 Doughty Street’s difficulties with neutrality, I would have thought Dale’s involvement alone would hinder any attempt to present Total Politics as “politically neutral”, but there you go.

And like Tom, I can’t help but wonder where else money has been secretly splashed about.

(Poor Iain. People might have been more inclined to believe that this was no big deal had he been up front about it, but he made no mention of Ashcroft when promoting the upcoming magazine on his blog. No wonder he’s so quiet this morning.)

UPDATE (5pm) – Lots going on. A fresh email from Dale just in. But I may have to leave you with this while he makes up his mind…

1. Do the test. Seriously, before you read any further, do the test.

(waits)

All done? With me now? Good.

2. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, yesterday, Iain Dale had cause to ask me to trust him. That had nothing to do with this Ashcroft matter and Iain knows that for reasons that will be made clear in due time (it will even me made clear in due time why due time is necessary). So the following (from one of my key emails to Iain on the subject of trust) is officially spooky (as opposed to a clear indication of a massive leftist conspiracy):

> Think about it; one day you’re going to *really* need the trust of myself or
> other members of the blogging community who have seen the way you willingly
> deceive people. Surely you can guess the rest.

3. Guardian – Ashcroft to bankroll new ‘politically neutral’ magazine: The Tory party deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft, is to bankroll a new “politically neutral” magazine, it emerged today. The Tory billionaire has agreed to invest in Total Politics, a political monthly magazine being launched in May by Tory blogger and publisher Iain Dale. The revelation, made by Kevin Maguire in his New Statesman column today, will raise doubts about Dale’s pledge to take an independent editorial line… Dale said: “The fact that someone like Michael Ashcroft is interested in investing in a business like this says a lot for our business plan. The magazine will be politically neutral. Just because somebody is investing in a magazine doesn’t mean they will influence the editorial line.”

4. Iain Dale responds to Tom Watson under comments:

Shouldn’t you, er, be running the country, something?

Mr Maguire was wrong. There is no bankrolling at all. The various investors in the magazine are investing on a fully commercial basis and will be expecting a return on that investment. It really is that simple. Seeing as though fewer than ten Labour MPs out of 350 have ever run a business I wouldn’t expect that to be understood, though

5. Iain Dale’s response to me was private (perhaps he has difficulty finding the ‘comment’ button here) but – needless to say – it did not address the issue and it wasn’t entirely grown up in its approach.

6. Iain is so unbothered by this piffling matter that he hasn’t even blogged anything about it. But when I popped over to check if Iain had anything to say to his readers (“Look! I’m in the newspapers again!” would have done) I saw something pass by in the background. I’ve highlighted it, just in case you happen to miss it:

MessageSpace ad for lordashcroft.com on Iain Dale's website

Obviously, Iain shouldn’t be automatically blamed for the ads served by MessageSpace, so just to clear things up:

To: Jag Singh

From: Tim Ireland

Subject: MessageSpace ads for Lord Ashcroft

Dear Jag,

For the sake of clarity and to avoid uncertainty:

Was the full going rate for MessageSpace banner ads paid for the lordashcroft.com banner campaign and, if so, by which individual or organisation?

Any details you can provide would be appreciated.

Cheers

Tim Ireland

7. Oh, I’d love to… but let’s wait for the response from MessageSpace first. I want to be as fair as possible to these people.

[Jag? When you’re ready. I’d ask Paul, but he’s still not talking to me.]

UPDATE (5:39pm) – The official response from MessageSpace:

“We don’t divulge any commercially sensitive info.”

Oh, how sweet. Now they expect you to trust them.

UPDATE (6pm) – Opportunity knocks: Tonight, 11.30pm News 24 with Alex Hilton on Question Time Extra

I invite you to watch it, even if it’s only to watch an opportunity pass by.

UPDATE (12 midnight) – Alex Hilton never tires of being Iain’s bitch, does he? Oh, and David Cameron does knowingly whore his family out and I have proof; watch David Cameron ‘unscripted’ and caught ‘unawares’ in his home.

UPDATE (14 April) – That last sentence only makes sense if you can see the interview, which has since been taken offline, so I’ve scrubbed it. Oh, and here’s a special something for every elected official in the UK who does not want to receive a ‘politically neutral’ magazine from Dale/Ashcroft.








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 13, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I’ll provide details later, but for now all you need to know is that Iain Dale needed me to trust him yesterday, and seemed quite put out when I pointed out that he had given me very little reason to do so in the past.

Some emails were exchanged and some points were (eventually) addressed, but during our discussion on the subject of trust, Iain had trouble answering this primary question… and is still refusing to answer it:

“Have I ever lied to you or about you?”

Iain often complains about the number of times that I blog about his antics, but I’m given very little choice when he bans me from comments, deletes comments when a conversation isn’t going his way, and refuses to correspond via email until he needs something from me.

So here we are again.

I’m busy for the rest of today and tomorrow, so that should give Iain plenty of time to formulate an answer.

[Over to you, Iain. Please remember that I also requested evidence, not just your say-so. We both know what your word is worth.]

UPDATE (17 Mar) – Iain has (eventually) answered by claiming that I’ve lied about him in this very post. Unfortunately, he won’t give me permission to publish his answer and the correspondence I refer to in this post. Hooray for secret evidence!

What I can tell you is that, initially, Iain responded by using the ‘bovvered’ catchphrase and by implying that I was some sort of stalker targeting feminine Tories (though why he regards himself to be part that group is anyone’s guess).

I’ll have more to say about the ‘stalking’ charge shortly. In the meantime, Iain forces me to repeat myself:

When Catherine Tate’s character Lauren Cooper insists that she ‘ain’t bovvered’, she actually reveals how bothered she really is (and/or, in some cases, presents a clear example of a rather reckless dismissal). Please try to use this catchphrase correctly in future.








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 12, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Tom Watson offers his thoughts on blogging as a civil servant. The basics are; blog as yourself and act responsibly.

The result: an added point of open engagement with politics.

Dizzy Phil Hendren, by comparison, thinks you should sneak around and exaggerate reality.

The result: further disillusionment with politics… via the use of illusion, no less.

(Dizzy seems to know an awful lot about the ins and outs of sneaking around making anonymous contributions and not getting caught, doesn’t he? Pardon the paranoid conjecture speculating prattiness.)

What Phil and all his pseudo-blogging attack-dog mates want is power without accountability… for now. I’m wagering their position would change if the Tories ever clawed their way back into Downing Street.

A ‘shoe on the other foot’ example to help reinforce my point, courtesy of Garry Smith:

“The baying mob is something I hope not to see again for a very long time.” – Iain Dale making excuses for his friend Derek Conway.

“Bay! BAY! Join in everyone! Bay! BAY!” – Iain Dale doesn’t know why he gets called a hypocrite.

You’ll want to watch this bunch of sneaky lying exaggerating bastards. They can’t be trusted.

UPDATE – Hahahahaha! Following another dig at Tom Watson, Dizzy Phil Hendren gets caught feeding his readers propaganda from the economic advisor to the Shadow Chancellor. Delicious.

And here, for your added amusement, is yet another example of Tory bloggers presenting Tory propaganda as their own independent work. This example, like the one above, also shows the Tories pushing the bullshit line that they’re totally 2.0

See? They can’t be trusted.








Page 3 editorial10 Downing Street – PM marks International Women’s Day: The Prime Minister has marked International Women’s Day 2008 by asking women’s business leaders for advice on how to support the “next generation” of successful women. The PM and his wife were joined for a lunch reception at Number 10 by a range of guests including Oxfam CEO Barbara Stocking, Sun editor Rebekah Wade an*WAIT! WHAT? WTF!? Rebekah Wade???

If I read this article right, Gordon Brown is asking Rebekah Wade of all people to “adopt and mentor” British teenagers and young girls in order to empower them.

And yet in today’s super soaraway Sun, there’s yet another perfect example of Wade’s ongoing efforts to exploit young women by using their semi-naked bodies to feed her readers either (a) right-wing propaganda (b) Downing Street propaganda, or (c) a clever mix of both.

(If you’re new to Bloggerheads, plenty of examples can be found here and here.)

Putting Rebekah Wade in charge of a young women with aspirations is like putting Fagin in charge of a child-entrepreneur scheme; the majority of ‘graduates’ will be victims used to victimise people, with one lucky pup (maybe) getting lessons on how to form and control their own gang.

I’m guessing *that* lesson starts with a special contract for nudie shots, that states in complicated legalese that the editor has the right to assign opinions to any/all models in a clear attempt to exploit them and everyone who likes staring at their boobies.

Yet another Big Lie, courtesy of the ‘new and improved’ Downing Street, ladies and gentlemen.

(Oh, and speaking of big lies, there’s a right-wing editor on the loose in Wikipedia who likes to censor his own Talk page, and one of the many favours he’s done for the British gang of right-wing pseudo-bloggers is the big lie – first entered here – that Paul Staines ended up independently wealthy after his years in the field of finance. Two trails for you to follow if have the time and inclination to join me.)








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 11, 2008

Category: Anne Milton, Humanity, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, The Political Weblog Movement

Bloggerheads – “Answer my questions, or the puppy gets it.”: I’m as appalled as Justin is… but not quite as shocked. The death of an innocent puppy doesn’t involve any tricky politics, so it’s an easy win.

Short version

Number of MPs who stood up for the notion that “the bearskin hats worn by the five guards regiments have no military significance and involve unnecessary cruelty”: 207

Number of MPs who stood up for the notion that “the Prime Minister [should] meet the UK’s moral obligations by offering resettlement to all Iraqis who are threatened with death for the “crime” of helping British troops and diplomats”: 79

Long version

Iain Dale:

Iain has gone in to bat for his old chum Ann Widdecombe and plugged her campaign “to persuade the MoD to stop buying black bearskins from Canada.”

You may recall that this is the same Iain Dale who, rather than join the campaign to protect/rescue Iraqi employees, instead decided to deliver this patronising lecture (as part of his ongoing mission to rewrite blogging history with himself at the forefront).

[Psst! The issue here for the government appears to be the lack of viable alternatives to bearskin. Perhaps Iain will be bold enough to suggest the use of fox skins instead. I’m sure they’d stitch together real nice, and the red will go well with the uniforms.]

Ann Widdecombe:

Ann is leading the charge on saving big cuddly bears, but has somehow failed to find the time to say or do anything about the human beings we have chewed up, spat out, and left to the mercy of roaming death squads in Iraq.

(Yes, I’m sure it’s terrible to be shot and then skinned while your corpse is subjected to “crude sexist comments”… but it’s equally unpleasant to be tortured with a power drill or simply gunned down in the street when the death squads are too short on time for such pleasantries.)

And while this campaign of Ann’s makes much of the “more than 200 MPs [who] signed a recent Early Day Motion calling on the government to switch to a modern and humane synthetic fabric,” here, she describes EDMs as a huge waste of time;

“I shall not miss the late nights and above all I shall not miss the EDMs. For the uninitiated that stands for early day motions which number thousands in the course of a parliament and have no more impact than a feather landing on a mattress, but which constituents take seriously and wish me to sign. Most of them call for open-ended funding for everything from varicose veins to hedgehog refuges.” – Ann Widdecombe

What a grizzled and bitter old hypocrite she is; no wonder she and Dale get on like a house on fire.

[Psst! That said, Iain Dale might want to consider Ann’s voting record on equal rights for homosexuals before committing to a post-opportunity friendship with ‘Widdy’.]

Anne Milton:

Milton signed the EDM to do away with bearskin hats. In fact, her Wikipedia entry once bragged that she was the first Conservative MP to sign this motion.

But Milton stalled on signing an earlier EDM in support of Iraqi employees until it was too late to sign (she actually had the cheek to claim the expiry of that EDM as her reason for not signing it) and – despite many reassuring noises – *still* hasn’t found the time to sign the latest EDM in support of Iraqi employees.

Again, I’m not shocked… just appalled.

UPDATE – Justin informs us that we can add Celia Barlow to the list, and offers this insight into Ann Widdecombe’s pick ‘n’ mix approach to humanity…

Chicken Yoghurt – Number crunching: And if you’re an ickle baby foetus, Ann’s got your back. If you’re an ickle baby foetus who grows up to be drilled to death by an Iraqi death squad or executed for being an Iranian homosexual, well, sorry but Ann’s got bears to worry about.








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 10, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

You may recall that last week Paul Staines lifted this item from the Sunday Mercury without crediting that local newspaper as the source (presumably because it simply wouldn’t do to undermine his reputation as the King of Mole Hill).

Point of Hypocrisy #1 – Paul Staines is forever harping on about how MSM ‘steals’ his material without credit, when more often than not it’s simply a case of a number of people getting on to the same story at the same time when Staines has the advantage of instant publication without such mundane concerns as verification, production, litigation, etc.

The Daily Express also lifted the Sunday Mercury item without credit, even using many of the quotes (i.e. as if they had sourced them themselves)… but the Daily Express also made a subtle reference to Derek Conway in their article, when there was no indication of any impropriety regarding any of the employees/income involved.

Later that Monday, the Sunday Mercury article was still in place, but the Daily Express article had been removed. The most likely reason why should have been obvious to anyone who has the slightest clue about libel; after all, the two items were identical in nature right up until the point where the Conway reference was made.

But the reason for this removal appears to be a mystery to Staines and his readers. There are even some comments (anonymous, natch) suggesting that it was removed because of the vast (and quite possibly Stalinist) MSM conspiracy to keep the public in the dark… oh, and did I mention that the Sunday Mercury article was still in place?

Points of Hypocrisy #2, #3 and #4 – Amusing behaviour on the blog of a man who (a) dismisses or deletes anonymous comments when contributors aren’t singing from his song sheet (b) labels those who mention this and other forms of selective moderation as ‘conspiracy theorists’, and (c) is quite fond of ‘disappearing’ information himself.

While all of this was going on, Paul Staines was outdoing the Daily Express by an extraordinary degree, by making an overt comparison to Derek Conway. This is what I blogged at the time:

Bloggerheads – Let’s probe some padded expenses!: The comparison to Derek Conway is totally out of order unless one *only* addresses the money Tom Watson paid to his wife Siobhan and *if* there appears to be some irregularity and/or difficulty proving that she has done this work. (Lister in the Express also works Conway into his article, but is far more careful about it.) The crux of the Conway matter was that Derek Conway had paid his son Freddie Conway £40,000 (over a three year period) and no record was found of any work done by this ‘researcher’. If a fair comparison were to be made, it would involve an estimated £60,000 paid to Siobhan Watson (i.e. over the same period) and there would have to be some indication that she didn’t actually do any work during this period. But instead, Staines (followed by Lister) has grouped the money paid by Tom Watson to his wife with Tom’s own pay and expenses, *and* tacked on money paid to members of his extended family by people and organisations that have *SFA* to do with that MP.

The Conway comparison was totally unfounded and totally uncalled for – and it should be clear why.

But not to Staines.

In a follow-up post, he plays to the conspiracy theorists, delivers a playground-level taunt, fails to link to the challenger(s) he claims to have bested, congratulates himself for being “ahead of the dead-tree-press” (over an item that he lifted from the dead-tree press) and hits us with his usual straw-man bullshit:

Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes) – Pigs to Westminster, Home of the Pork: The unpopular parts of the blogosphere are complaining about Guido’s comparison of the monies received by Tom Watson’s family and the amount received by Derek Conway’s family. None of them dispute that the Watsons suck on the teat of the taxpayer to a far greater extent than the Conways ever did.

Derek Conway is notorious not for his overall level of expenditure, but for his failure to properly account for work done that would justify part of that expenditure.

Paul Staines lifted the guts of an article involving overall expenditure figures – and expenditure that has nothing to do with Tom Watson’s office – and then described the resulting sum as; “far more than the disgraced Derek Conway fiddled…”

Here I remind you that the Daily Express article was largely identical to the Sunday Mercury article, with the primary difference being a very subtle reference to Conway (it was presented as ‘background’). Oh, and that the Daily Express article was withdrawn.

But Staines made a direct comparison to Conway, and also implied that some or all of the expenditure involved was fiddled.

But I wouldn’t look forward to Staines’ article being removed anytime soon, as this ‘libertarian’ has taken a number of measures to ensure that he is (or at least appears to be) immune to litigation.

Point of Hypocrisy #5 – And yet if Paul Staines regards himself to be unfairly treated/represented, he will threaten to sue.

Meanwhile, Paul ‘Guido Fawkes’ Staines continues to play the bold, straight-talking warrior for personal freedom… but you should never forget that it’s those lying, two-faced MPs that we have to watch out for.

(ahem)

My MP (Anne Milton, Con) *is* a lying two-faced so-and-so, and recently it emerged that her husband was paid a few grand here and thereonce during a year when he was supposed to be working full-time as an executive for the NHS.

Paul Staines didn’t think this was worth chasing. At all.

Paul Staines also didn’t think it was a good idea to pursue the single portion of Watson-related expenditure that might allow him to make a justified comparison to Conway. So I’ve done the bulk of the work for him… but have left a bonus treat for Paul and his fellow right-wing propagandists and conspiracy theorists. I hope they enjoy it…

Below are the questions I put to Tom Watson, and two answers. Feel free to compare these to the single answer response from Anne Milton.

Q1. Where did Siobhan Watson carry out this work you describe? In your parliamentary office, your constituency office, from home…?

Tom’s Answer: She works in my constituency office, though often comes to sort out stuff in London.

Having visited Tom’s office once or twice when stuff was being sorted out, I can verify the latter.

Q2. What evidence can you show your constituents of the work you claim was done by Siobhan Watson?

Tom’s Answer: Most lobby journalists know her as the person who turns down lunch invitations. The rest of the world know her as my long suffering PA.

Heh. I like this answer; it has witnesses. I do look forward to Paul’s assertion/suggestion that all lobby journalists are involved in a vast cover-up.

Q5. Have any other members of your family been employed in this or any other way by your office?

Tom’s Answer: [see below]

Tom has reminded me that I already know the answer to this question. And do you know what? I’m going to drop it. If anyone has an issue with that, you know the address.

As Gary pointed out recently, there are no grounds for comparing any of the reported income with the Conway matter and – in my view – no grounds for further investigation.

There may, however, be grounds* for investigating the income of one Paul De L’Aire Staines…

[*Not intended or presented as a reference to Derek Conway. So there.]








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 6, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

That’s the short version… and I’m happy to cut him a little slack because, unlike some people, he doesn’t have a track record of dicking me around.

I’m a tad busy myself, but I did have time to knock this out for B3ta’s ‘Make Newspaper Comics Funny’ image challenge.

See you soon. Try not to harm any puppies or human beings while I’m away.








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 3, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Sorry to interrupt the eerie silence, but Iain’s latest CiF article comparing David Cameron to Barack Obama prompted this comment from me and I wanted to share.

[Yes, I’m aware of the multiple absurdities of Iain’s article, but I’m trying to stay focused.]

UPDATE – Heh. I fear I might have strayed into a Brit-centric neighbourhood recently. This post is my first mention of Barack Obama on this weblog since September 2004, when I blogged this item.

UPDATE (04 Mar) – Ahahahahahahaha! Iain responds to criticism of his article by claiming that he sold the Guardian a surplus article with the specific intention of winding up their readers. I suppose they’ll be wanting their fee back, then. I also enjoyed Iain predicting a “torrent of abuse” in the same comment where he describes CiF contributors as having “even fewer braincells than the LibDem front bench”.

UPDATE (05 Mar) Two bits of related bloggage for you:

mask of anarchy – Iain Dale: The Blogging Equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes


Septicisle – Pranked over Cameron’s likeness to Obama, while Cameron himself sings from the same old hymn sheet








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