Archive for the ‘The Political Weblog Movement’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 5, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

The 18ToryStreet plan to produce “a gloves-off attack ad” on London Mayor Ken Livingston raises many serious questions, but right now what I’d like to focus on is the polite and straighforward questions that CuriousHamster tried to put to Iain Dale this evening.

(Psst! There are surprises later. And cake…. maybe. Hang in there.)

If you’re not yet aware of the clever techniques Iain Dale uses to avoid pointed questions submitted to his weblog, you can see a recent example here and a full study of techniques here.

First, Iain’s post:

Iain Dale – (Don’t) Vote for Ken: The next campaign advert which 18 Doughty Street is making concerns Ken Livingstone. If you’d like to vote for one of the three idea click HERE.

Now, onto the exchange. I’d like to look purely at the discussion between Iain Dale and CuriousHamster, but I also need to include the handy distractions, as Iain insists on making them central to his ‘answer’…

CuriousHamster said…

Interesting stuff. Any ideas as to why people have started calling that TV channel 18 Tory Street?

Iain, as a trustee of Policy Exchange and a director of the TV channel, I have a question on this attack ad against the current Labour incumbent of the office of Mayor of London.

Is Nicholas Boles, the director of Policy Exchange, still the front runner to be the Conservative candidate for Major of London in 2008? Is he still in the running?

I can’t imagine that he is because you would have surely declared such an interest in an open and transparent manner. Can you confirm that he has withdrawn from the selection process?
8:06 PM

What CuriousHamster is referring to oh-so-politely here is Iain Dale’s recent failure refusal to declare an interest when filing a report for 18ToryStreet on the left-of-centre think-tank The Smith Institute… and I’m detecting some sarcasm here, but he is quite generous in his assumption that Iain would not be so bold as to pull the same stunt twice in one week.

But he has… and that’s not the only repeated stunt this week:

Iain Dale said…

Curious Hamster, go and play with your friend Richard Gere.
8:15 PM

Please excuse my French, but how fucking rude can you get?

I must admit that – upon reading this – I felt the need to check that this was a genuine comment from Iain dale. It was.

And did he answer any of CuriousHamster’s questions? No.

CuriousHamster said…

Touche Iain. I see my wits are no match etc etc…

It’s a simple enough question. Is Mr Boles still in the running? That’s all I want to know.

You can call me Garry Smith (my actual name) if that’ll help you concentrate on the question. Yes or no would do it.
8:22 PM

CuriousHamster responds with admirable restraint, repeats the core question, and gives Iain the opportunity to give a simple answer and move on. Bravo.

Iain Dale said…

You know Gary, bizarrely I don’t speak to Nicholas every day, In fact I don’t think I have spoken to him since before Christmas. I assume he is still intending to run as I have heard nothing to the contrary. If you are soooo desperate to know why don’t you email him? I’ll even be helpful and give you the email address
8:27 PM

One of Iain’s more annoying habits; an attempt to ridicule the question and/or the person posing it while delivering a guarded response (i.e. to impress us with a ‘hit’ in the hope that we don’t notice that his answer isn’t much of an answer).

For the record, I find it very hard to believe that Iain Dale, a trustee for Policy Exchange, was not in touch with Nicholas ‘Nick’ Boyles, the Director of Policy Exchange, either immediately before or after this report and its aftermath.

I could also bang on about Iain and ‘Nick’ both being gay here and ‘innocently’/jokingly assume that they both attend the regular meetings us breeders suspect they always have in our absence, but I’m not a query-undermining distraction-seeking motherfucker like Dale.

Speaking of distractions, here comes one now!

Anonymous said…

Note the severe limits to posting here – the “Dale democracy” is actually just another spin factory. I think we can all see what’s coming in the election – the CIA-controlled Dale running lies and smears from Doughty St, appealing to the lowest-common-denominator of what they perceive to be Moron Britain – hit the gays, call Livingstone a terrorist, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
8:40 PM

I’ll reserve comment on this until after CuriousHamster’s response… and Iain’s:

CuriousHamster said…

Now there’s a politician’s answer if ever I heard one. Not like that last one. It was just rude.

Just to clarify, you’re saying you’re not sure so you didn’t feel the need to declare an interest?

I’m not comfortable using that general email address for an independent charity to find out whether Mr Boles is still in the running to be Conservative candidate for major. That seems like more of a party political issue and not the sort of enquiry he should be dealing with during his time working for charity.

But that’s just my opinion.

Is there any other way I can find out? I must say, I’m slightly surprised that you don’t know. I heard that you were generally very well informed.
8:50 PM

CuriousHamster said…

Strange how the anonygoons have come out again. The allegations made by the anonymous idiot above, for example, are very easy to ridicule and very distracting.
8:54 PM

Given the rather vague response Iain gave and the extremely discourteous way in which he gave it, CuriousHamster cannot be blamed for further pressing the point and wanting to (finally) get to the guts of the matter. Also, his identification of a rather useful troll is worth noting.

Finally, CuriousHamster is right to point out that ‘Nick’ Boles should not be using Policy Exchange facilities to pursue a party-political objective, but I’ll expand on that and provide some other extras later*.

For now, it needs to be noted that this was the last we heard from Iain Dale for a while. Not that he was unavailable for comment. You can see him here after 10pm batting down handily-flawed accusations from anonymous web users in another thread and, as CuriousHamster notes, interventions such as this are “very easy to ridicule and very distracting”.

And here comes a whopper right after an arse-related detour…

PJ said…

On a point of order, Mr Dale I believe the Gere preference is for gerbils.
By all accounts hamsters may be the new newt………….
10:21 PM

Anonymous said…

Anon 8:40 you are right – Dale is playing the role that the Monday Club and CIA-funded arms dealers did to get Thatcher elected and to illegally run the national police forces during the minders strike, from a suite in the Ritz. Dale is financed from abroad, but from where exactly? Who is behind the Tory dirty war to come? I expect the aim is to make Cameron look clean whilst Dale and his neocon pals roll in the gutter. It was a technique perfected in the first Bush/Gore election and so I suspect it comes in from the US. We should therefore look to the connections between Dale and the Neocon-faschists in the New American Century movement, etc. The next General Election will be fought with knives and pistols.
11:00 PM

Note how this troll builds on the material provided by the earlier troll. Note also how Iain Dale responds:

Iain Dale said…

ROFL. 1. I am not a NeoCon. 2. I receive no income apart from my earnings from 18DS and my writing and political punditry. 3. 18DS receives no money from anyone apart from Stephan Shakespeare.
11:04 PM

Yep. He leaves CuriousHamster’s highly relevant question hanging and instead responds to the troll.

I’ve watched Iain Dale do this before… and the trolls that allow him to do this seem to turn up like magic. Even if Iain isn’t writing/submitting such comments himself, it’s one hell of a cheat.

And do you know what? I’m sick of watching him get away with it.

*Now, onto some of those promised extras:

1. 18ToryStret promised “a gloves-off attack ad on London’s Mayor and his record” (my emphasis)…. but the script that was chosen begins with bendy-buses and council tax (only part of London council tax is set by the mayor, BTW) and then goes on to associate Ken Livingston with various communists, terrorists, onanists, etc. etc. etc. Nice one.

2. Nick Boles appears to have learned his spamming generic email techniques from a master. Note also the ‘public consultation’ aspect of this email; like many candidates preparing to parachute into action, ‘Nick’ seems keen to find out what locals are concerned about before deciding that he too is concerned about exactly the same things.

3. Also note that the first of these went out on 18 Jan and the second on 22 Jan. No, Iain may not have spoken to ‘Nick’ Boles since before Christmas, but how likely do you think it is that he’s unaware of these emails… or the associated website… or the obvious implications?

4. CuriousHamster wanted to know if Nick Boles is still in the running to be the Conservative candidate for Major of London in 2008. One look at his website tells you that he obviously is, as it’s very London-focused and the only content of any note is the continuation of the aforementioned ‘public consultation’ exercise. And, while we’re on the subject of the website…

5. CuriousHamster is right to point out that ‘Nick’ Boles should not be using Policy Exchange time/facilities to pursue a party-political objective… so what are we humble mortals to make of ‘Nick’ Boles registering the domain names for his political prep-site (,, and using his Policy Exchange email address *and* the Policy Exchange mailing address *and* the main phone number for Policy Exchange?

(Direct link to screengrab composite here, if you need it.)

SPECIAL UPDATE – There is now a post over at Guido 2.0 focusing entirely on this discoveryand the possible implications. You may wish to include a link to that if this is the meat you find tastiest of all.)

Nick Boles: whammo

6. Who’s a naughty boy, then? There’s also the not-entirely unrelated matter of the panel discussion described here, where ‘Nick’ Boles potential London mayoral hopeful and Director of Policy Exchange (at an event part-sponsored by Policy Exchange); “was keen to draw a distinction between the approach of a Conservative London mayor and Ken Livingstone’s micro-management of many London issues.”

Any more for any more?

[Note to Iain – I probably wouldn’t have been up late writing this post and doing the relevant poking around if you had simply seen fit to give CuriousHamster a direct answer to a pertinent question. Just something to keep in mind.]

UPDATE (21 Feb) – Bloggerheads – Nick Boles steps down! (Nothin’ to do with me, Guv’nor…)

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 5, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

During the recent Bit Of Necessary, Jackie Danicki busied herself making false claims that I had stolen an image from her.

She did this to bully me into removing an image of Paul Staines from my website (Paul has, of course, ‘borrowed’ many images in the past, and under the pseudonym ‘Guido Fawkes’ he even objected to being bullied in this way by News Of The World).

The way the entries were phrased and placed would suggest that this accusation was also designed to undermine my credibility (after I had dared to – *gasp* – question the credibility of Paul Staines).

She responded to my last email with the single word ‘unsubscribe’, so I’m assuming that I am now unable to email Jackie without her screaming “Spammer!”

Instead, I have twice submitted comments to her weblog – in an entirely polite and relevant fashion – requesting that she correct or delete the offending entries (that she was ‘courteous’ enough to leave on other people’s weblogs).

She did not publish the comments I submitted; I’m assuming she has chucked both of them into the virtual bin. (In other words, she’s been censoring her comments, too.)

And she has not responded to this or any other request that she remove/retract her entirely false claims about image theft.

Guido’s corner is simply chock-full of charmers, isn’t it?

(Psst! I can’t wait to see what Ellee Seymour is going to bounce back with…. but if I were a gambling man, I’d place an each-way bet on her ignoring the matter or copying Iain Dale and playing the victim. Surely she’s too nice to go for that other all-too-common New Tory Blogger defence technique… character assassination.)

UPDATE – On that subject… look at what everyone’s favourite ‘anti-establishment’ channel is up to now.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 5, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Do you remember Paul ‘Guido’ Staines equating his dumbfounding level of comment censorship with my deletion of duplicate comments?

Some cheek, huh?

You ain’t seen nothing yet…

This morning (on Guido 2.0) I blogged about Ellee Seymour and what appeared to be blind devotion to dishonest bloggers like Paul Staines and Iain Dale and/or a deliberate attempt to reinforce their mud-washed version of reality.

Deleted!The trackback ping generated by that post did not generate the usual link on Ellee’s weblog, but the guts of that post started life as a draft of a comment on her site anyway… so I simply left a short message under this post with a link back to my post by way of response (see screengrab to your right).

Ellee Seymour promptly deleted that comment.

That’s the same Ellee Seymour who once said ; “I do always try and respond to comments, that’s the fun of blogging.”

That’s the same Ellee Seymour who has studied ethics as part of her PR diploma.

And yes, that’s the same Ellee Seymour who has appeared on 18ToryStreet more than once to discuss issues such as ‘fake blogs’, ‘ethics’ and ‘trust’.

On her most recent appearance (right at the end) she actually used my challenge of ‘Guido’ as a prime example of how blogs are self-regulating, because (and this was the thrust of her argument) ‘any blogger could be challenged’… but she appears to be blissfully unaware of the dirty tricks ‘Guido’ uses to make himself immune to such challenges, which just happen to be very similar to the dirty tricks Iain Dale relies on to dodge and bury challenges on his website. (The only key difference between the two is in the use of deletion as a censorship tool. Staines burns, Dale buries.)

Oh, and do I really need to mention that Ellee has not only played a role in these dirty tricks in her latest post, but also bypassed the mechanism of ‘self-regulation’ by deleting my response to it under comments on her website?

Further, Ellee Seymour has recently voiced opinions on her weblog on the importance of declaring an interest when publishing a view on one thing or another; “As Robert Scoble says, if you disclosed it, you have ethics; if you didn’t, you don’t, it’s as simple as that.”

But it’s *not* as simple as that for Ellee… she obviously thinks that exceptions can be made:

As was reported here, Iain Dale published an ‘investigative’ report on one think-thank that operates as a charity (and may or may not have undue political leanings toward the Labour Party) when he is a trustee for another think-thank that operates as a charity (and may or may not have undue political leanings toward the Conservative Party).

Iain Dale did not declare an interest, and when questioned on the matter he pulled out every trick in the book to avoid the issue. When he finally delivered an answer on the matter, Iain Dale said that he thought his relationship Policy Exchange was ‘irrelevant’.

At the same time, ‘Guido’ was busy deleting any mention of the words ‘Policy Exchange’ in the comments on his website.

How did Ellee Seymour react to this?

By praising their “relentless pursuit of the Smith Institute” and grouping those who raised pertinent questions with “New Labour trolls”.

And how did Ellee Seymour react when I called her on this?

She deleted my comment.


– It can’t be because of the inclusion of a link (‘Guido’ often uses this as an excuse for deletion) because there are plenty of other links in this same thread.

– It can’t be because she classified it as personal abuse, as she allowed this comment abusing me (also from the same thread) to stand without question or qualification.

– And it I’m pretty sure that it can’t be because of a ban on my leaving comments… as this would be just a tad pre-emptive (I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve left a comment on her website).

Tell you what… I’m feeling generous… let’s allow for the possibility that the deletion was a glitch or an accident.

I won’t stop me from calling her a hypocrite, because there is a still the small matter of her rather unique views on who should and should not declare an interest when they publish information… and she deserves to be challenged on that.

(It’s called self-regulation, Ellee… I believe you support this notion, yes?)

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 5, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Bugger bird flu… we have our own infection to deal with. Most of the action will be over here today.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 2, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Manic’s Tips for Becoming a Successful Political Blogger #2: Defending Yourself

Somebody has already submitted an excellent report before the lesson, and they would have received top marks had they not made this point anonymously: Methinks Iain Dale doth protest too much. His blog is good, and there is a free exchange of ideas here, which is refreshing. But sometimes, and I hate to say this because I admire what he does, he is prone to either spinning very small or irrelevant stories as if they were big stories always (surprise, surprise) against Labour. He also sometimes “gets things wrong” but I have very rarely seen him either make a correction or agree his facts were wrong, and I have followed this blog closely for over a year. My overall impression is of a good, effective tory politician, kicking over the stones and getting very good results but also prone to finding his own truths and acting defensively when challenged. He also adopts the pretense of being equitable, professing to like various leftish people, but this appears to be a front, as it nearly always wraps with nasty attacks at some point. A good piece of work for Tory propaganda but hardly a samizdat breakthrough in the battle for freedom! Minor stuff.

(emphasis is mine)

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 1, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I’ve said my piece under comments. I encourage you to do the same.

UPDATE – Well, that didn’t take long:

[]: maildir delivery failed: This customer’s mailbox is full.

UPDATE (2 Feb) – Oh, I’m loving this: Some Conservatives do wish to comment. One has done so right here while simultaneously proclaiming that “the Conservatives do not wish to comment”. That might be a tiny bit ill-advised.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 1, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Guido 2.0 – Manic’s Tips for Becoming a Successful Political Blogger #1: Spamming for Links

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 1, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Political Penguin – Fox News Lite, Guido AKA Paul Staine[s] and Iain Dale: The state of play is a bit uneven at the moment, with all honesty I agree with Unity that the Tories are ahead of the game on this, but lets just qualify that statement. The Tories are ahead not because they are technically better, nor more organised, nor more intelligent, they are simply more unprincipled and happy to break long held netiquette valued by those of us who have a sense of fair play and honour.


The only modification I would make would be to change ‘the Tories’ to ‘these Tories’.

On the point of fair play and honour, and the very real need to preserve same, please check this post for an important update.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 30, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Oh goodie.

Paul Staines: Iain Dale has a piece on Doughty Street TV tonight about the Smith Institute which explains why they should lose their charitable status.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know why this is the very definition of ‘fair and balanced’ (as we understand it to be in the 21st century).

The magic words ‘Policy Exchange’ haven’t appeared on Staines’ website in the last 3 days… and I doubt they’ll appear tonight on 18 Tory Street.

UPDATE (31 Jan) – 18 Tory Street failed to load properly for me last night, but the report in question is now live here. I’ll watch it later… after breakfast has settled.

Iain Dale on 18 Doughty StreetUPDATE (31 Jan) – Has the Smith Institute abused its position? Has 18DoughtyStreet abused its position?

OK, I’ve watched the report. It’s basically a re-hash of everything ‘Guido’ has published, along with an interview with a Tory MP who has decided to take action… based on what ‘Guido’ has published:

1 – Where in this report does Iain Dale inform the viewers that he is a trustee for the very similar charity-slash-independent-think-tank, Policy Exchange?

Ministry of Truth: In the case of the Smith Institute, one can at least point to two of its Trustees who could be considered to be non-partisan; Anglican Archbishop John Sentamu and cross-bench peer, Baron Joffe. In the case, however, of Policy Exchange, not a single one of its Trustees can, on the information available, be clearly identified as being non-partisan or independent of the Conservative Party.

2 – You could check for yourself (perhaps I blinked and missed it), but finding such an important declaration would have been easier with a transcript of the report. It would also be nice to be able to make a comment under the report, but 18 Tory Street doesn’t allow you to do that.

(How is this interactive telly, Iain? Because you read emails live on air from time to time? Hell, even Richard and Judy do that.)

3 – But let’s get back to the main point… this report appears to be compromised in the extreme by the reporter’s own agenda and his undeclared interest(s). Don’t those who watch this report deserve to know about such things?

4 – On the face of things, ‘Guido’ seems to agree. After all, he’s not above stamping his little feet over ‘nepotism’ and ‘bias’ on the BBC. Sadly, ‘Guido’ has failed to lay into Iain Dale for his (ahem) unfortunate oversight, *and* there still appears to be a blanket-ban on use of the words ‘Policy Exchange’ on the Guido Fawkes website.

5 – One thing Iain Dale has to his credit is a slightly more honest/open comment policy than Paul ‘Guido’ Staines. Got a question to ask? Fire away.

UPDATE – To. Be. Read. In. Full…

Ministry of Truth – Fox News Lite on the Smith Institute

UPDATE (1 Feb) – I had to press for it, but I finally got an answer out of Iain Dale.

He did not declare in interest in his report because he thought then (and still thinks now) that the following was ‘irrelevant’:

Iain Dale published an ‘investigative’ report on one think-thank that operates as a charity (and may or may not have undue political leanings toward the Labour Party) when he is a trustee for another think-thank that operates as a charity (and may or may not have undue political leanings toward the Conservative Party).

Dale stood as a Conservative candidate in the last election, and he is on the ‘A-list’ for the next.

Here I direct you to Section 5 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code and the reason why Iain Dale doesn’t need to worry about such things.

UPDATE (1 Feb) – BSSC – The Questions Iain Dale Should Answer: Personally, I have no interest in playing down the Smith Institute story or diverting attention away from it. My view is that both main parties sail very close to the wind when it comes to their relationship to “independent” think tanks. This is about something else… when Iain Dale, Conservative A-lister and trustee of the “independent” Policy Exchange, Cameron’s favourite conservative think tank, makes lots of noise on the interwebs about Brown’s overly close connections to an “independent” charity while failing to mention his own connections to a very similar organisation with very similar connections to the boy wonder, I’m inclined to believe that it wasn’t a great day for standards of openness and transparency in political life on the interwebs. I am, rather, inclined to think about pots and kettles, glass houses and dirty tricks.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 26, 2007

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Ministry of Truth – Guido, The Smith Institute and the Think Tank he’s not writing about: Paul Staines, who blogs under the psedonym ‘Guido Fawkes’ has recently run a series of typically snide posts about a registered charity, The Smith Institute… Policy Exchange, like the Smith Institute is registered charity, albeit one founded only in 2003. And like the Smith Institute, it is funded by private donations and does not disclose the identity of its donors – it doesn’t have to, remember… Policy Exchange also has some obivious links to a mainstream political party (and maybe even to Paul/Guido, as you’ll shortly see); the Conservative Party. In fact one might even reasonable observe that Policy Exchange, an ‘independent think tank’ operating as a registered charity is actually a veritable rat’s nest of Conservative Party members and associates with identifable links and connections running all the way to very highest level of the party.

Well, Paul Staines is a busy guy (those comments don’t write moderate themselves)… maybe he plans to get around to it sooner or later. Over to ‘Guido’…

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