Archive for the ‘Tories! Tories! Tories!’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at August 5, 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

BBC – Ex-Tory admits harassment charges: A former Tory candidate has pleaded guilty to a campaign of harassment against his Liberal Democrat rivals. Ian Oakley, who stood down as the Tory candidate in Watford last month, admitted five charges of criminal damage and two of harassment. Oakley, of Ryeland Close, West Drayton, Middlesex, asked for 68 other offences to be taken into account… He slashed tyres and wrecked shutters at the Liberal Democrat headquarters in the town. He made silent phone calls to Ms Brinton between August 2006 and March this year, and sent her gay and lesbian magazines, the court was told. Letters addressed to “Sal Bitchton” were also sent to her workplace. Oakley’s campaign against Mr Willson was mounted from February to May this year and included painting graffiti on his home, calling him a “perv”. He also sent letters to him and his backers wrongly accusing Mr Willson of being a “child abuser”. Donna Rayner, prosecuting, said Oakley had been driven by a “desire to change the political landscape in Watford”.

I’ve personally witnessed and experienced parallels to all of the above, minus the property damage, from a range of Tories. Most of them will show some extraordinary front when denying what they’ve been up to… and then claim that what they did was somehow right/justified when they get caught red-handed. The pattern is depressingly predictable.

Is there a Tory textbook somewhere that teaches them how to do all of this… and to constantly claim (without a shred of evidence to back it up) that Labour/Lib-Dem activists are up to the same or worse?

UPDATE – More details are available via Lib Dem Voice and The Times.

UPDATE – Iain Dale is doing a pretty convincing show of hand-wringing considering some of the behaviour he tolerates from fellow Tories *not* being slammed in the national press, his close mates, and just about anyone who wants to anonymously slag off or threaten people he doesn’t like.

UPDATE (6 Aug) – Liberal Democrats – Cameron must investigate vile campaign of criminal damage: Following the arrest of Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Watford, Ian Oakley, and his guilty plea today on five charges of criminal damage and two charges of harassment, Liberal Democrat Chair of Campaigns and Communications, Edward Davey has written to David Cameron demanding that he holds an urgent inquiry into the procedures and activities of Watford Conservative Party.

Too bloody right. Hands up anyone who seriously thinks that all of this went on without a single warning signal reaching CCHQ:

The Times – Slashed tyres and poison pen letters: how Ian Oakley bullied rivals: By the time he was arrested last month he had committed 75 offences of criminal damage, harassment and malicious communication against his Liberal Democrat opponents in Watford… Watford Lib Dems said that the anonymous vandalism and intimidation began in the months before the 2005 general election, when Oakley was the Conservatives’ campaign manager in the constituency.

UPDATE – Meanwhile, Ian Oakley appears to think that people like him should be kept off the streets.

UPDATE – And here’s a picture, boys and girls….

1. Supporting Dave Walker:

Unity – J Mark Brewer revisited (updated): It seems that while Brewer’s up for bullying Christian cartoonists and members of the clergy, when it comes to taking on a big bad atheist blogger with a penchant for digging into the detail, like yours truly, he seems to be altogether lacking in intestinal fortitude.

Well, there’s a shock.

If you’d like to learn more and maybe blog something yourself, start here.

2. ‘Sun Watch’ Project:

Catching up with more of our editors today and tomorrow. In the meantime, here are two Sun-related items for you:

Mark Pack – A case of media bias? The Sun, MySpace and Facebook: So, that would be 14 positive stories about MySpace compared to 1 negative. A bit different from the 2 positive against 13 negative stories about Facebook…

Septicisle – Weekend links: The Scum, despite the complete lack of evidence is continuing to keep up the pretence that Barry George is guilty of the Jill Dando murder…

3. New Google gadgetry:

Google has started offering their site-specific search feature under the main search result for some newspapers. Nifty.

4. Long waits:

Still no word regarding my membership application for the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics. Can’t imagine what’s keeping them.

5. Fascinating and a bit scary:

Britain from Above looks awesome. Guess where I’ll be Sunday 10 August at 9pm. (No, don’t check the spy satellite… I said guess where I’ll be Sunday 10 August at 9pm.)

6. Optical illusions:

Best car park signage ever. (via)

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 25, 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

Evening Standard – Moment David Cameron became a victim of crime: He had chained up his bike in Portobello Road, less than a mile from his home, as he went into a supermarket to buy salad for dinner. However, when he returned five minutes later, the bike was gone. Mr Cameron had chained it to a 2ft bollard, allowing thieves to lift both the bicycle and the lock clear.

Daily Mail – Cameron left stranded as his bike is STOLEN as he shopped for salad: Onlooker Gary Yankee said the theft had perplexed 41-year-old Cameron, who was heard repeatedly saying: “But I locked it.” Mr Yankee said: “He must have been looking around for about five minutes as if he couldn’t believe it had gone.”

Well, it sounds like he’s a moron, but let’s double-check, just to be sure…

Here’s a photo showing the pavement outside the Tesco in Portobello Road. In the foreground you can see the perfectly serviceable rail that runs alllllll the way along the front of the store (i.e. the one that is used by locals to secure, bikes, dogs, etc.), while in the background you can see the type of bollard that David Cameron chose as the anchor for his bike.

[Psst! You can also see to the far left a bike that may or may not be chained to one of these bollards, which only proves that David Cameron may or may not be the only moron in the world.]

You can see a clearer photo of this type of bollard here.

What should be obvious from the height is that even an oompa-loompa with poor upper body strength could lift a bike ‘up and over’ if it were chained to one of these bollards.

What should be obvious from the design is that the only thing that makes one of these bollards marginally more secure than your average bollard is a wee lip at the top… which is a lot like saying “this cell without a door is more secure because it has steps”.

So, yes, David Cameron is a moron.

The thieves that nicked his bike are thoughtless parasites (or, possibly, shy perverts who only wanted some privacy while they sniffed his seat) but David Cameron is a moron.


London Cycling Campaign – Where not to lock your bike: Short posts, or even tall posts that a lock can fit over the top of – your bike will be lifted over the top.

Rolling Resistance – The Bollards of David Cameron: I don’t mean to beat the guy while he’s down, but putting a chain around such as a bollard isn’t really going to offer much protection from theft, just as that helmet hanging from his handlebars will do little to prevent injury.

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 25, 2008

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

The first incarnation of the Sun-Watch project is coming along nicely and will rumble into action shortly. Right now, I’m quietly going from invite to invite and making sure that each of our editors is happy in their work.

While you wait, here are a few items that a certain gang of right-wing thugs really hope will pass without too much scrutiny:

Guido Fawkes Paul Staines – New Statesman Owner Buys LabourHome: Guido has been hearing rumours that LabourHome was “in play” and that two bidders were after the site….

Gosh, I wonder where he heard that rumour… from his mate Alex Hilton or Jag Singh, the guy he shares an office with. Way to hype the sale, Paul.

[Note: I’d love to describe Jag Singh as Paul Staines’ business partner, but Staines likes to issue spurious legal threats based on barely-related technicalities, and we have been reminded that – on the books at least – the (hopefully former) bankrupt Paul Staines “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been.” Apparently he only takes and makes calls for them out of the goodness of his heart and all of his money seems to magically appear out of an unrelated magical portal labelled ‘advertising’. More on this later in the post.]

Adding to this hype is another member of their little gang, Iain Dale, who proves that he doesn’t always play down the left by… erm… playing down the left:

Iain Dale – LabourHome Gets Cash Boost: Contrary to what some left of centre bloggers have been saying (HERE and HERE), I actually welcome this as I think it is healthy for each political viewpoint to have a powerful online presence. Most sensible people on the left recognise that their blogging efforts have not received the same attention as those of us on the right. The advent of blogs like Liberal Conspiracy have liften the profile of the left of centre blogosphere, and despite their unbalanced antipathy towards me personally, I think that can only be a good thing for blogging in general.

[Note: Recent criticism of Iain’s habit of not linking to what he is talking about has obviously stung; this time there are VERY GRACIOUS and NOT AT ALL GRATUITOUS links to the content he is misrepresenting.]

Being happy for your mates receiving an unknown amount of cash for their leftish portal is not the same as welcoming input from the left. Especially when this hype for mates is framed by “the left are weak, the left are unpopular, any criticism of my is unfounded leftist whining and the product of a sick mind…” (pardon my paraphrasing).

What Iain Dale also glosses over here is that there are people who will not be taking part in his blog ranking scam because they know he is a liar and a cheat who’s not above fiddling the numbers in order to make himself look good.

[Note – The latest spin from Dale’s camp is that those who are unwilling to legitimise a rigged popularity contest are afraid of losing… in a rigged popularity contest.]

On the subject of outlandish claims based on meaningless/misrepresented figures, let’s have a word or two from Nadine Dorries, close friend to Iain Dale and regular recipient of helpful plugs, spin and positive angles from Dale’s hype machine:

Nadine Dorries – Heartbeats: It’s time to pack in blogging for the summer. At a recent meeting with my staff, I put forward the idea that maybe, now that we were receiving 700,000 hits per month, that just maybe I should carry on. They all, in unison, shouted NO! They are of course absolutely right, for reasons detailed below. I apologise to those who may have read the following blog which I wrote whilst on holiday last year; but as we were only getting 100,000 hits a month at the time, there are a lot of readers who haven’t read it…. When the hot sun has gone to bed and the underwater lights in the aquamarine pool twinkle and beckon; the jug of Sangria on the table next to me screams, “More ice”; the heady scent of Bougainvillaea fills the air; and Jose Gonzales plays seductively in the background, wooing me, egging me on. There is a beautiful Batik print on the balcony wall of the Madonna and child, it’s looking down on me; the warm sea breeze is causing the candles on the table to flicker, playing tricks with my eyes. Every time I look up, the Madonna tut tut’s at me and shakes her head in mild reproval. Unfortunately, I don’t think even the Holy Mother can help me once I have blogged on. It’s between me, the circling shoal of out to get me Piranhas; a loaded gun; an Exocet missile; a suicide wish; the Chief Whip; and the save button. I wonder why more MPs don’t blog?

[Note – Please don’t rush to send copies to Private Eye for Pseuds Corner; Beau Bo D’Or has already done so and earmarked the spotter’s fee for charity.]

Even if ‘hits’ weren’t a meaningless figure, Nadine assumes here (and not for the first time) that every download is a vote in her favour. Bless.

I love how she sees herself as a freedom fighter and champion of democracy when she is in fact, a lying scoundrel, a willing pawn of religious fundamentalists and, like Iain Dale, not above a little fiddling of the numbers.

Paul Staines has gently teased Dorries from time to time, but he certainly didn’t take the time to reveal that – via Dorries – an attempt was made to have legislation written by religious fundamentalists passed into law.

Now watch Paul Staines as he finally issues a statement regarding his relationship with the ‘Sunlight COPs’

Guido Fawkes said…

The Centre for Open Politics is in “beta”, pre-launch.

When they launch properly they will reveal who is backing them to the last penny.

For now, just so there is no doubt, suffice to say Guido has given them seed money funding to get them started. For the last four years this blog has been digging into political sleaze and campaigning against corruption. There is no existing vehicle for doing it – in particular to take legal action to enforce the existing laws.

The various quangos are passive and not aggressive enough in pursuing wrong doing. The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics aims to shine a light on the dodgy goings on in a way that an individual blogger – even with a large audience can not.

July 24, 2008 3:23 PM

Ah, so it’s a natural extension of his heroic and impartial mission to clean up politics. Glad we cleared that up.

Note how the statement is issued almost casually, near to a full week after the matter came up. A textbook tactic beloved of spin doctors. Never mind that the character he uses to sell his bullshit is supposed to be an enemy of spin.

More on this as soon as is possible. Staines isn’t the only one who’s stalling and my membership to Sunlight Centre for Open Politics is (still) “pending approval from the administrators”.

[Note – You may recall that we got the ‘it was only a beta test’ excuse (and many others) back when Paul Staines and his chum Alex Hilton equated homosexuality with paedophilia (1, 2, 3).]

And now we finally get back Paul Staines and the money that magically appears in his pockets.

The other day I was barred from Staines’ website (again), this time for being the recipient of abuse. (What?!)

Check out Paul Staines inferring that I use pornography to drive traffic to my site when he knows the opposite is true.

Then skip forward to about 1:03:30 on this video to hear Paul Staines admit that – in response to traffic patterns – he knowingly peddles the more crude/salacious material (and targets hate figures) on his blog in order to boost his audience.

What follows this revealing exchange is his answer to an audience member wanting to know the source of the profits he as been bragging about. I’ll leave you to chew on it:

“Advertising. Purely advertising. [pause] And selling stories to the… er… papers.”

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 22, 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

As I have a keen interest in greater political transparency and openness (some have even criticised me for being ‘obsessed’ about it), I have applied to become a member of the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics.

They were allowing anyone to sign up and have they way with their little corner or Ning! last Friday/Saturday (which led to my being spammed courtesy of a ‘helpful’ sock-puppeteer who will be dealt with in due course). Now, new members need to be approved by administrators.

And here is where it (already) gets interesting…

I have applied for membership under my real name and and not a pseudonym, even though I know that they operate out of the same office as Paul Staines and my name alone is likely to count against me if there is an undeclared political alliance at work.

Which way will they jump and why?

I’ll let you know when a decision is made…

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 18, 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

Unity – Say goodbye to the Sith…: As I expected all along, Guido’s ‘crusade’ against the Smith Institute has turned out, on publication of the Charity Commission’s Inquiry Report, to be pretty much a busted flush. Overall, the Smith Institute has been criticised for failing to take sufficent steps to ensure that it maintained a clear public image of political neutrality and balance in the face of what has been, on Guido’s part, a quite blatant and sustained campaign of smears and innuendos, many of which have proved to lack any substance or foundation. So far as Guido’s role in instigating the investigation is concerned, the most telling piece of commentary in the report is the Commission’s account of his response to the Commission’s section 8 direction, which required him to deliver additional evidence that he claimed, at the time, to have in his possession… In short, when pushed to back-up his claim to have additional evidence to support his complaint, Guido produced nothing of substance that wasn’t already in the public domain.

Typical of Paul ‘Guido’ Staines. When asked to put up or shut up, he fails to put up… and then fails to shut up.

I’ve more to add on this, but if I’m to add it, it’ll have to wait until Monday. I’m off for two days as of 10 minutes from … (checks watch)… *now*… and it’s not polite to open fire on another blogger if you don’t plan on being there when they might wish to respond.

UPDATE (2pm, 21 July) – As it turns out, Unity blogged plenty more about this of his own accord, and Staines popped up late on Friday to assure us that everything was above board and all would be explained or become clear ‘on Monday’. We’re still waiting…

UPDATE (22 July) – Still waiting for Staines. Meanwhile Phil Hendren wishes to bring a similar report to your attention start a fight (because this kind of thing really impresses the chicks).

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 18, 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

I’m a busy guy (I’m currently trying to explain SEO in a way that a child can understand… long story), but happily this one’s a slam dunk, and little-to-no-effort is required to explain it:

1. Right to Know: 1st April – 30th June 2008 (A-E) (PDF)

Member of Parliament: Nadine Dorries
Constituency: Mid Bedfordshire

OFFICE COSTS (Incidental Expenses Provision)
Media Intelligence Partners = £2938

2. List of services provided by Media Intelligence Partners:

‘Media strategy’, ‘Media relations’, ‘Crisis management’, ‘Media Training’, ‘Public relations and political consultancy’, ‘Identity management’ and ‘Analysis and research’.

3. The Green Book (rules for) Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Pensions (PDF)

Incidental Expenses Provision (IEP)
5.13.2. Work commissioned and bought in services

Expenditure not allowable:
# Advice for individual Members on self promotion, or PR for individuals or political parties.

Dorries’ only possible escape route is very similar to Anne Milton’s intended escape route as it turns out, but it’s a narrow gap in a very big fence… and if this expenditure is linked back to the abortion ‘debate’ (which included many notable media appearances and exchanges involving Dorries, if you recall), then David Cameron will have to dive to avoid the shrapnel.

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 18, 2008

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

The Conservative Party owes taxpayers 2 million pounds and change, and I mean to collect.

Please note that the above is a preliminary figure. How soon I get to an exact figure depends on the PRU’s willingness to be transparent. For now, this is a (*cough*) conservative estimate based on the following:

According to the Daily Mail, the Parliamentary Resources Unit was set up in 1997 by Tory ‘loverat’, proud Quad Bike owner and devout opponent of Parliamentary transparency David Maclean.

(Incidentally, David Maclean’s website comes to us via Palace Computing, courtesy of the Incidental Expenses Provision.)

As the Evening Standard reports; “78 Tory MPs (are currently) claiming Commons expenses to pay for the party’s ‘Parliamentary Resources Unit’.” (Details can be found here, if you’re willing to wade through them. I missed a fair few subscribers in my previous post, as some have claimed a whole year this quarter, while others have only claimed a quarter this quarter. It is also likely that there are current subscribers who have claimed nothing this quarter.) The PRU itself claims to provide; “briefing, research, correspondence and related support to 150 Conservative MPs and front bench peers.”

Applying an estimated average of 75 subscribers per year who claim this cost back from the taxpayer seems more than reasonable.

Currently a PRU subscription costs just a shade under four thousand pounds a year (£3877.50 p/a to be precise), but a subscription probably cost less in 1997. I’m going to be very generous and assume it went as low as two thousand pounds or under and apply an average of £2500 p/a.

11 years x 75 subscribers x £2500 = just a shade over 2 million pounds.

OK, that’s the (preliminary) figure. Now let’s get to the part where the Conservative Party needs to pay it back to the taxpayer…

As the Evening Standard reports; Labour MPs pay about £2000 a year out of their own pockets towards their party’s Resource Centre (i.e. their equivalent of the PRU), which provides research and advice for backbenchers.

This money is not claimed back from expenses, but from the MPs’ pay packets. In short, the Tories lift this expense from the pocket of the taxpayer and Labour do not.

Now, can we be grown-ups about this, and acknowledge that this isn’t purely about how ‘legal’ or ‘compliant’ an arrangement is? If it appears inequitable to the average voter, then Cameron has a problem to the tune of at least 2 million and change (and he certainly can’t expect the MPs and former MPs involved to cough up the cash… it’s just not going to happen).

But let’s take a look at compliance anyway, because (again, one needs to be a grown-up about it) David Cameron isn’t going to do a damn thing about this unless he feels he has to. Showing a poor level of compliance (or a mere veneer of same) turns the screws and increases the possibility of taxpayers retrieving this cash.

So let’s start screwing and squeezing. I’ll start, shall I?

The PRU makes a lot of noise about ‘compliance’, but take a quick peek at the job description they provide for their ongoing call for interns:

The successful candidate must have:
# a proven interest in UK domestic politics, ideally in one or two specific areas of policy;
# strong organisational, writing and research skills;
# good interpersonal skills and the ability to perform in a team;
# willingness to write enthusiastically on behalf of Conservative MPs and Peers.

[Psst! This job ad also featured on the Conservative Party website until yesterday. This ad on carries a large ‘Conservatives’ logo and a prominent link to the Conservative Party website. The nature of the job and who you’ll really be working for is made very clear to applicants, if not the public at large.]

Now in which direction do you think that enthusiasm “on behalf of Conservative MPs and Peers” will be most appreciated from an unpaid and highly disposable intern?

One might get the impression from this ongoing advertisement for interns that an inherent bias toward Conservative policy/thinking is not only a desirable attribute, but a goddamn job requirement.

A zoo that only keeps ferrets is not a zoo, it is a home for ferrets. The natural behaviour of most animals will be distinctly ferret-like, no matter how many of them you shave (it’s a lizard!) dress in wetsuits (it’s a seal!) or nail to perches (it’s a parrot!) to give the illusion of balance and diversity.

[Old Joke: I went to an animal park once, and it only had one lousy dog in a cage. It was a Shih Tzu.]

For now, I’ll hand over to the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and Labour MP John Mann for more… but don’t think for a second that we as should leave this to the old-schoolers or even certain ‘leading’ bloggers who have blogged the data release (1, 2) but shown an alarming lack of curiosity about the data itself. Bloggers from Westminster village might find sport in the PRU’s who’s who.

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 17, 2008

Category: Anne Milton, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Times – Tory MPs’ use of staff budgets to pay for PR advice ‘against rules’: MPs are paying up to £10,000 from their staffing budgets for services from public relations firms in an apparent breach of Parliamentary rules, The Times has learnt. As MPs finally agreed to undertake limited reforms of their expenses, the first disclosure of how Tory MPs spent their allowances has revealed more than a dozen Conservatives, including Shadow Cabinet members, are using their allowances to pay PR firms. Companies such as Parliamentary Liaison Services (PLS) and Media Intelligence are being paid from staffing and office budgets, with the head of PLS claiming he works as a “communications adviser” for up to 20 MPs. This would appear to be in breach of the Green Book, which outlines the rules for MPs. It says there is an explicit bar on “advice for individual Members on self promotion, or PR for individuals or political parties”…. The MPs who list their use of PLS services are Simon Burns, James Gray, Jonathan Djanogly, James Dudderidge, James Gray, Damian Green, Stephen Hammond, John Horam, David Lidington, Anne Milton, Owen Paterson and John Whittingdale.

(The full details of these disclosures are available here.)

Anne Milton claimed £7347.53 from her communications allowance between 1st April – 30th June 2008. Typically, unlike many other Conservative MPs (most of whom claimed considerably less), she offers no details regarding this expenditure.

The only MP who claimed more than Anne Milton against their communications allowance in this period was David Davies (£7494.76).

Amme would have claimed the top spot easily if the amounts she had paid to Politicos Design (£1838 for “website support”) and/or Parliamentary Liaison Services (£2350 “in respect of a business survey”) had been claimed against her communications allowance and not her staff budget.

“But why should she do so for an innocent fact-finding survey?” one of her more ardent, blinkered and downright vicious supporters might ask.

Well, perhaps instead of asking me they should ask David Lidington, who claimed £1115 against his communications allowance (instead of his staffing budget) for “Reimbursement to PLS Ltd of money spent on survey of constituency businesses.”

Perhaps Amme would care to explain (a) what made her business survey from PLS so different to David Lidington’s, (b) why she thinks outsourced website fees should be absorbed into staff costs, and especially (c) exactly what she blew the other £7347.53 on.

She certainly didn’t spend any money communicating with me. I haven’t heard a damn thing from her since she offered this pissweak response to questions about the £13,000 of taxpayer’s money that went into her husband’s pocket.

[Incidentally, David Lidington and John Horam (who claimed against his staff allowance payments made to PLS Ltd for “Work on constituency newspaper”) both had their websites (“funded from the Incidental Expenses Provision”) built/supplied by Palace Computing (formerly Finbyte Ltd). Palace Computing shares a poky attic-like space with Parliamentary Liaison Services on the 5th floor at 38 Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W 0EB – and the two companies have a lot more in common than their common address and the kind of grand official-sounding names one normally expects from inventive people like Joseph Obi. Not that I’m suggesting that they’re in any way dishonest, heavens no. It just might appear to some bystanders that a lot of taxpayer’s money flows through that office and they shouldn’t be surprised if someone decides to start poking around. Oh, and I hope they’ll forgive me for being so unkind, but the web design skillz of Palace Computing strike me as being very… 20th century.]

UPDATE – Curse me for a fool. I let another official-sounding name pass me by…

Paul Waugh – Has Cameron unwittingly exposed a Tory fiddle?: The Times today points out that yesterday’s list of expenses revealed that some Tories are claiming up to £10k for PR budgets. But my attention has also been brought to the other mysterious item that crops up on many of their expense claims. Many, including Mr Cameron himself, use taxpayers’ cash to fund a subscription to a “Parliamentary Resources Unit”. Sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it? But this turns out to be a unit that helps only Tory MPs. The PRU, as it is known, has been around for more than 10 years but until yesterday few Labour MPs realised just how the Tories were funding it – partly through Parliamentary allowances, as well as Short Money.

These documents reveal 36 near-identical ‘annual subscription’ payments to the PRU in this quarter of £3877 or £3877.50 filed under ‘office costs’. That’s nearly £140K reported in this quarter alone. If all Conservative MPs pay this same rate, it adds up to just a shade under £750K per annum. Three quarters of a million squid a year, out of your pocket and mine, to pay for a Tory-only research unit.

UPDATE – PRU claims to provide services to; “150 Conservative MPs and front bench peers”. That’s just over half a million squid a year if we take this as a precise figure, so I’m sure you’re feeling a lot more relaxed about it now.

UPDATE (18 Jul) – I *knew* I smelled something nasty in Grosvenor Gardens. Here, watch these two pieces suddenly click together. These are the WHOIS details for the websites of the Parliamentary Resources Unit. You’ll never guess in a million years who looks after them:


Palace Computing

Registrant type:

Registrant’s address:
38 Grosvenor Gardens

Easyspace Ltd t/a Easyspace Ltd [Tag = EASYSPACE]

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 02-Sep-2002
Renewal date: 02-Sep-2008
Last updated: 21-Aug-2006

Registration status:
Registered until renewal date.

Name servers:



Palace Computing
38 Grosvenor Gardens
London, SW1W 0EB

Administrative Contact:
Roberts, Hugh
38 Grosvenor Gardens
London, SW1W 0EB
020 7730 9706 Fax: 020 7730 4854

Technical Contact:
Roberts, Hugh
38 Grosvenor Gardens
London, SW1W 0EB
020 7730 9706 Fax: 020 7730 4854

Registrar of Record: Easyspace Ltd.
Record last updated on 22-May-2008.
Record expires on 01-Aug-2009.
Record created on 01-Aug-2003.

Domain servers in listed order:

UPDATE (18 Jul) – Anne Milton has made a defiant statement to our local newspaper. Apparently she sees nothing wrong with using taxpayer’s money (reserved for staff-related expenses) to pay a PR company to conduct a “business survey” and she plans to do so again in the future. Milton is then quoted as saying; “I do not use them for PR, I use them for business,” because – and I don’t think it’s unfair to describe the quote that followed this as totally moronic – “Business is significant in Guildford and an important part of the local economy.”

No shit, Sherlock… but I fail to see how this obvious observation serves as mitigation.

The first time I encountered Milton was over a push-polling call to my home. When confronted about it, she played the innocent lamb when she knew exactly what was going on and why it was wrong. But, just in case she is innocent this time [rolls eyes], here’s some advice for Amme the Lamb:

PR companies tend to specialise in public relations. That’s what the ‘PR’ stands for. If a PR company has any expertise in conducting surveys, that expertise will quite logically lean toward asking questions that get desirable answers and then presenting the already-skewed data that results in a manner that is most favourable to the client and/or the agenda of the client. If you wish to avoid suspicion in future, you may want to commission business surveys from companies that specialise in business surveys and other forms of polling and research. To further avoid suspicion, you may even wish to choose a company that doesn’t have clearly-cemented and very profitable ties to the Conservative Party.

UPDATE (18 Jul) – I’ve asked Amme’s office for a copy of the survey that they seemed perfectly happy to share with all sorts of people a few weeks ago (because business is important to the economy, dontcha know), but now they’re shy all of a sudden, and I have to wait for Anne Milton herself to get back to me. I don’t *want* Anne Milton to get back to me, and I didn’t *ask* for Anne Milton to get back to me because – as I have already made clear – the last time she got back to me about something like this she fobbed me off with a lie. What I want is a copy of that survey.

UPDATE (18 Jul) – And here’s a picture I collected this morning, boys and girls. Two companies. One button. At the risk of repeating myself, I think it’s fair to say that it just might appear to some bystanders that a lot of taxpayer’s money flows through this office. In fact, I would even add that the PRU’s choice of Palace Computing for web services smells of a party political arrangement. More on the PRU in a dedicated post at lunchtime today. Work awaits.


Posted by Tim Ireland at July 11, 2008

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

Dear Mr Hendren,

You appear to require some specific instruction and detailed clarification on this matter, so please bear with me:


I do not wish you to call me at home; this is why I have never provided you with my home phone number.

I do not wish random people who read my website to call me at home; this is why my home phone number is not on my website.

In fact, do not wish random people to call me at home full-stop; this is why my home phone number is unlisted.

Yet you seem to think, because you were apparently able to use your professional contacts to get a hold of my phone number for personal reasons, that none of the above applies. In fact, you’ve gone so far as to describe my home phone number as “publicly accessible” (source) and I think you are at the very least being a little bit dishonest with yourself about this. That you were able to access it by ferreting around for it does not in any way excuse your using and abusing it in the way you did.

You have also since offered me advice on measures I can take (and services I can pay for) in order to avoid such calls in the future, but here I should remind you that in 6+ years of blogging I have only had this problem with one person and one person only; you.

I am also only really likely to have problems with other people in the future because of one person and one person only; you.

(In case you have forgotten, you also published my unlisted number on your website on more than one occasion, but I’ll get onto that soon enough. I haven’t even begun to begin…)

I do not want to hear about your personal life, and I do not want to be part of your personal life, no matter how keen you may be to barge into mine.

I do not care to hear about your relationship problems as a mitigating factor in any disagreement between us and I certainly do not want to hear about how much sex you’re having with an old/new partner as a deciding factor in what you clearly regard to be a pissing contest.

I also have no interest in calling you, but your calling me back immediately after the sexy-time call and offering your home number to me (by suggesting that I dial 1471) in order to be ‘fair’ struck me as such an odd thing to do (it wasn’t until later I realised that you simply may not have been willing to admit that you made a mistake by not calling me from your mobile with its withheld number) that the only thing I could think to do at the time was ask you to read it out to me just in case you were playing some sort of game (i.e. calling from another number that you may not have known off by heart).

Recently, you’ve tried to pass off your recent pissing-for-distance as dead-cool sarcasm. Normally a claim like this might hold some water, even if it were suspiciously yellow, but I seek to remind you that you bragged about the amount of sex you were getting THREE TIMES in one single call.

OK, so the first repeat may have been my fault; I said “I beg your pardon?” because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but you went on to stress it a third time after this as the body of your conclusion, so it was clearly a/the major point you wanted to get across and I really need to ask you why you think I would care in the first place, if this really is your main measure of a man, and (as you clearly regard my interpretation of that exchange to be unfair ) what someone is supposed to make of an exchange where the caller repeatedly blurts out their plans for intercourse, calls back to offer their phone number and then calls back again to ask why there hasn’t been an adequate response to the first two calls.

Also, I wish to stress to you that when anybody calls my home after 9pm on any night of the week, I expect first to hear (a) an apology for calling so late and (b) a bloody good reason for calling so late.

You may find that other people (especially those with young children) have similar expectations, so it might be in your interests to show some consideration in future… when calling others*.

(*You’re certainly not welcome to call me and you never have been.)

Provocation and Retromoderation I

With regards to your apparent perception that you were in any way central to Operation Manticore, you really need to get over yourself and stop pretending to be so outraged.

Seriously, the project had been on the cards for nearly 5 years, and no matter what you might think about your current level of importance you will have to admit that you simply haven’t been in my face or even active as a ‘blogger’ for that long. Your post was chosen at the last minute (as part of one of many diversions) because you had blogged about a police presence at Heathrow and made a lot of noise about what could and could not be seen at the time. It was fitting and poetic, and that’s it. You also didn’t catch on to the little bit you did know because of any cleverness on your part; it was because someone TOLD you. So, again, please try to get over yourself.

When you latched onto it with both hands and threatened to tell the world about “the real Tim ‘black hat’ Ireland” if I ever crossed you or called you a stalker (and it’s obvious why you would be worried about the latter after using and abusing the label so many times and then repeatedly calling my home… again) I wasn’t at all worried about anything you could reveal in the long term because the intention was to reveal all at close of play.

The only thing that worried me at the time was that you might realise that Plan A was as much of a bluff as Plan B… which you didn’t, despite what currently appear to be suggesting. The fact that you considered the secrets you held to be a long-term bargaining chip (see: ‘blackmail’) proves that. Seriously, how could I possibly stand up afterwards and say; “the whole thing’s been a fake but what happened to ‘Dizzy’ was real”?

I will readily admit that it was a mistake to include you in Manticore any way, as it was supposed to be f-u-n. I should have known that you’d go off the deep end as you have in the past and ruin some of that fun, but I was very amused at the thought of you thinking that you had an ace up your sleeve, when it was in fact a wild card that became worthless the moment Bush left town.

Hilariously, you still tried to play this worthless card after the reveal by trying to give the impression that you had done so before the reveal (and/or that you intended to do so all along) with this subtle retrofit of your ‘holiday’ post.

But it would be silly to engage with you while you were on holiday because (a) I do not want to be drawn into your private life, as I’ve already made clear, and (b) only a fool or a cad would take advantage of a visible disadvantage like that, no matter how much they are dared or egged on to do so by an opponent.

Besides, I was also genuinely waiting for someone else to get back from their holiday. I promise I will get back to this after one very clear example of your attempts to rewrite history and retromoderate your way out the crass error of ‘taking it offline’ at least twice now…

Provocation and Retromoderation II

During your calls to my home in March of this year, when you were literally screaming down the phone at such a volume that my wife could hear you from the next room, we almost got to the guts of what I am trying to explain in this letter, but you were too angry to see it at the time. If you’ve forgotten the exchange since, I can’t blame you for trying to put the incident out of your mind, so I will happily remind you;

During that call you declared that I took the internet too seriously. You described what I was upset about and had blogged about as “only text on a web page”.

When I pointed out that my blogging about your mere text on a web page also amounted to mere text on a web page you did appear lost for words for a brief moment, but then continued to yell at me down the phone during your ill-advised stunt that was well beyond mere text on a web page.

In short, you had stepped way, way over the line. Not just by calling me at home when you were certainly not welcome to, but also by publishing my phone number on your website in a clear effort to intimidate me.

At the time, you showed no remorse over anything but the potential personal cost to yourself and actually mocked me for not spotting another ‘hidden’ version of my phone number that you claimed had been on your site for weeks. (Upon withdrawal of this number you offered as a mitigating factor the fact that the last digit was missing, as if anyone determined enough wouldn’t call 10 numbers in order to find the right one.)

Lately, you claim to have been ‘provoked’ into doing all of the above in this passage that you refuse to admit amounts to blackmail:

“The only thing that you need to do is agree that you will never target me again. Remember, I have the real evidence that you went after *me* with intent. You on the other hand have what? Six phone calls over the period of four months all in reaction to your provocation.” – Phil ‘Dizzy’ Hendren (source)

1. This. Is. Not. A. Pissing. Contest.

2. Despite your efforts to rewrite history after retromoderating the entire exchange out of existence, I can prove that you are 100% full of it:

When it came time to delete the comments including my personal details, you also deleted many surrounding comments in a way that would leave any newcomer to this post/thread totally oblivious to the fact that you accused Tom Watson of being a sock-puppet on your website and simply couldn’t face a solid challenge to this claim (like the fact that he was on live TV at the time one of ‘his’ comments appeared).

Normally that’s the kind of thing I’d expect from you and simply let go, but now you’re trying to pass off my contradicting you on this point and another as ‘provocation’ worthy of the intimidation and harrasment that you dished out, and that’s not on.

Compare your reaction to being proved wrong about a voiced suspicion to mine and you might also begin to understand why a wry smile crosses my face when it’s declared by your supporters that I didn’t take the latter too well.

Somehow, during the entire hammering (that Iain Dale so happily contributed to), I managed to resist the temptation to call you at home or publish your number (as you have done to me) or adopt another online identity so I might undermine your reputation without risking mine (as you have done to me). I also managed to restrain myself to the point of not letting loose with a stream of abuse (as you have done to me) or wishing that you would die of cancer or in a car crash (as you have done to me).

How did I resist this temptation? Because there’s a line, Mr Hendren. And it’s line that you need to learn about.

Especially as that line is the only thing stopping me from making a formal complaint to the ISP you work for.

Intimidation and Information

Here is where our mystery holiday-maker comes into play…

I’ve been in touch with your employer (an ISP that I do not name here as a courtesy that I hope you appreciate) in an effort to determine if my details lurked on any marketing or customer databases currently in their possession (i.e. within your reach).

This. Took. Months. To. Process.

In fact, I’ve been trying to determine this (without involving you or any complaint about you) since March.

I sent them an email pointing out that this was still a concern for me after your more recent calls, but they told me the person who was supposed to be looking after this was away at the time.

But they (finally) got back to me the other day and the good news for you is that I don’t appear on a single database that you might have access to at your place of work.

There’s plenty of ammunition for a formal complaint to your employer (again, I hope you appreciate the courtesy of me not going into detail) but when the possibility of you accessing my data via your employer is ruled out completely, then in my view, there simply isn’t any justification.

Because there’s a line.

I hope now you’re at least looking at it and perhaps even appreciating how wrong and reckless it is for anyone it to cross it without a bloody good reason.


Look, if you don’t want to be the first person suspected of sock-puppeting and flaming stunts designed to disrupt debate and undermine the reputation of others, then don’t be the first person who generally turns up with sock-puppeting and flaming stunts designed to disrupt debate and undermine the reputation of others.

Similarly, if you don’t want to be suspected of nuisance calls to my home, then don’t make a habit of making nuisance calls to my home.

Finally, if you seriously want to avoid suspicion over any future nuisance calls to my home, you might want to have a quiet word with anybody you may have shared my number with, and the person who shared it with you.

Sadly, you have no control over the people who saw it appear on your website, but I hope this will at least reinforce for you (and others) what an irretrievably foolish stunt this was.

Do yourself a favour and take the weekend to ponder on it.

And for God’s sake, don’t even THINK about responding with a phone call.

Tim Ireland

  • NEW! You can now support Bloggerheads by buying handmade firelighters for camping and utility or deluxe firelighters for your home fireplace. Visit to see my products.

    Fire Burn Good fire lighters

  • External Channels

  • Tim Ireland

  • Page 3 Politics

    Page 3: a short history

  • Main

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • The Cautionary Campfire Songbook

    The Cautionary Campfire Songbook

  • Badges + Buttons