Posted by Tim Ireland at April 26, 2010

Category: Anne Milton, Tories! Tories! Tories!

Almost four years ago now, myself and some Guildford-based Liberal Democrats were smeared via a series of anonymous weblogs and anonymous comments on established weblogs (see latest post).

Many of these smears were a direct response to my weblog about Anne Milton (1, 2), who was then the MP for Guildford and is now campaigning to retain the seat. During this period, I found evidence that two Conservative activists attached to Anne Milton (Dennis Paul and Mike Chambers) were involved in these smears against me, as well as the worst of the smears against some local Lib Dems (specifically, the accusation that one of their opponents was paedophile).

No meaningful action was taken. Certainly nothing was done that led to the removal of the smears. But I am now advised that an ‘investigation’ of sorts did take place, and it is here that we cut to the account of my source, whose name will be revealed shortly…

MC: “Two years ago, there was an ‘investigation’ I suppose you can call it that. I remember it and all the candidates were asked if they were aware of any involvement…”

Perhaps there was more to this investigation than just asking people if they were involved, but no-one from the Guildford Association showed any active interest in my testimony or any of the evidence I had to hand.

I pointed out to my source that I wasn’t asked for any further details during this ‘investigation’ (or told of any result after). When I emailed details, those emails were ignored. When I followed up with a phone call, I was instructed to “put it in writing”, and the most likely reason for this was explained as follows:

MC: “I know it’s not nice to be, feel ignored, stonewalled, whatever you call it, and I’m just guessing that, in the case of Anne Milton, she’d formed a view, influenced no doubt by your approach to her and then later supported or influenced by [Dennis Paul’s] concerns about hacking and stuff and, I have to say your view, within the Conservative Association, you were, like you said an ‘angry man’, that was hacking computers, sending viruses…”

Tim: “Was that a widespread view?”

MC: “Well, ‘widespread view’, I mean….”

Tim: “Well, you said that was the view within the Conservative Association.”

MC: “Yeah, Association strictly speaking is all of the members…”

Tim: “Yes..”

MC: “… what I’m talking about really is the centre core; the Chairman [Jonathon Lord], and the senior officers, and of course our MP [Anne Milton].”

If this claim is true, then Dennis Paul was successfully denying involvement in a smear campaign against me and others… by engaging in a further smear campaign against me; one specifically accusing me of criminal acts and intentions.

My source went on to claim that Jonathon Lord (then Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association, now Parliamentary Candidate for Woking), Anne Milton (then Guildford MP, currently Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford) and others had subsequently adopted the position I was a criminal hacker capable of targeting anyone who received/opened/answered emails from me, or even just visited my website.

(To put his ‘guessing’ into context, my source was guessing that this was the reason why I was having difficulty communicating with these people, but he was in no doubt about the specifics of the claims made by Dennis Paul and who they had influenced.)

This fresh account tallies with material published by Dennis Paul at the time:

“If you contribute by blogging genuinely on some sites, you may provide the host with your IP address when you blog which enables unscrupulous hackers to attack your computer. That is why they are so obsessed with the IP identity of those who blog. You may limit this risk by moving from a static IP address to a Dynamic IP address, but you are still vulnerable while you remain online without protection.” – Published under his own name by Dennis Paul (16 Aug, 2006)

“A number of liberal supporters in Guildford are graduates with computing expertese. They can hack through website visitors pc with ease – all they need is your IP address to target your computer. These ‘blogsites’ are a venus fly trap to them. At a national level, Police intellegence use the same expertese to monitor and catch muslim extremists. You only have to visit their site and they can target you. The best thing is to avoid their sites altogether, and avoid clicking on links that could take you to their sites.” – Published as an anonymous comment by Dennis Paul (22 Aug, 2006)

I agree. If you click on links to these sites, who knows where it could take you. Next thing you know, you could be on some paedo site with the Police knocking on your door accusing you of visiting innapropriate websites.” – Published as an anonymous comment by Dennis Paul (22 Aug, 2006)

We also have this, which is either (a) the work of Dennis Paul or a core member of the Guildford Conservative Association, or (b) a pretty good indication that the alleged smear spread further than Dennis Paul and the core of the Guildford Conservative Association. This ‘talk’ edit from Wikipedia attempts to justify repeated attempts to remove links to my site from Anne Milton’s Wikipedia entry:

“I removed a section that contained inaccurate information, and links to a libellous web site. This is not vandalism at all. The person’s web site whos link I removed is a vandal and a hacker and was arrested for hacking last year, so should not be promoted in any way on this site, which is the home of factual information not lies and self promotion.” – Published by an unknown contributor to Wikipedia (01 Dec, 2006)

For the record, I have NEVER hacked anybody or fed any viruses or Trojans to anybody, and I certainly haven’t been arrested for these or any other offences.

But I do appear to have been cut off from democracy at a local level by a smear (while another innocent man appears to have endured an even worse smear for far longer than was necessary), purely because the ‘expert’ testimony of Dennis Paul was accepted by local Conservatives. Oh, and David Cameron.

David Cameron’s office was presented with all published evidence, but the local Association’s view held and the Conservatives decided to back Dennis Paul as a candidate. I got an email with this in it on the same day Dennis was having his picture taken with the man himself:

“We have looked into the concerns you raise regarding Guildford Conservatives and are satisfied that these matters are being carefully investigated at the local level.” – David Beal, Correspondence Secretary, David Cameron’s Office (01 Feb, 2007)

Dennis Paul and David Cameron

I’m seeking an immediate response from Anne Milton, Jonathon Lord, the Guildford Conservative Association.

I am hoping they will admit the allegations and immediately disown the lies of Dennis Paul. Unless they wish to deny what’s been alleged here, of course, in which case they will need to immediately disown the lies of Mike Chambers… because he’s my source.

(Psst! That sound you hear is a dozen local coffees being spat out at once.)

Either way, Anne Milton can no longer ignore the hole she dug for herself when she trusted either or both of these clowns as campaigners and went on to endorse them as candidates.

More to follow.

[For the record, Mike Chambers denies involvement in the 2006 paedo-smears, and puts forward the view that they were a part of a ‘dirty tricks’ set-up by the Lib Dems, who smeared themselves and/or one of their own for political gain. He has no evidence to back this up, only his personal certainty that the Lib Dems are the real nasty party, and the only people capable of such deeds.]

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 23, 2010

Category: Teh Interwebs, Video

#freefilm is a project designed to prompt discussion of the Digital Economy Act 2010 [#deact] and politics in general

Members of the public are invited to join the project by editing their own campaign videos using the following as kit pieces (should you not have the time/resources to make your own material):

Music: This moneyed mix comes to us from (and is available via) Alastair Cameron:
Download the music here

The choice of music is quite deliberate, and could be defended any number of ways as fair use, if the system didn’t favour the moneyed studios to such an absurd degree. But that’s kind of the point.

Video: You can access all sorts of public domain footage at the Prelinger archives. My video features footage from Yesterday’s Over Your Shoulder (1940) and Master Hands: Part I (1936), and I’m really liking the look of Despotism (1946) for a possible follow-up.

All of this video footage is in the public domain, but you interpret fair use on the music at your own risk. I advise against trying it with YouTube, who fold faster than Superman on laundry day… but if you wish to assert your rights there, I can’t stop you. Rupert Murdoch could squash you like a bug with no grounds for doing so, but again we stray toward the point.

So that’s it, really. Use the materials and play with the formula as you please.

I’ve made the following film to kick things off. It tells the story of little grey men who just don’t get the web, but tinker on regardless with expert guidance from the good people in the showbusiness. I hope you like it.

The Minister for the Internets :: a #freefilm about #deact from Tim Ireland on Vimeo.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 20, 2010

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

After a well-documented series of hilarious own-goals, the Conservatives appear to have gone to a lot of trouble to make their latest poster ‘unshoppable’…. so I knocked this ‘blank’ up in a spare two minutes I had. Have fun.

Cameron negative poster blank

Related bloggage:

Lib Dem Voice – Tories’ new poster revealed, their failed strategy exposed

UPDATE (21 April) – Here’s a new one, in an effort to keep abreast of breaking…. I’ll stop there.

Cameron egg poster blank

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 20, 2010

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

If you’re not a political geek or a regular reader of Bloggerheads, then you may want to go straight to the money shot (Nadine Dorries: Wonder Woman!). Otherwise…

Conservative Change Channel: EXCLUSIVE! ELECTION! EDITION!

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 13, 2010

Category: Anne Milton

Anne Milton, Conservative candidate for the marginal seat of Guildford, has decided that now a general election looms, there is no room for negative campaigning:

Anne Milton wants a clean fight, boys!

Some people might see a clever smear against her opponents when they read the above, but I’m going to take Anne Milton at her word (just for a moment) and instead ask ;”What’s changed?”

Guildford Conservatives - so much to be proud of!

Back in 2005/2006, Anne Milton was repeatedly turning a blind eye to the disgraceful antics of two of her most vocal supporters; Dennis Paul and Mike Chambers:

– Anne Milton avoided any meaningful comment on Dennis Paul’s pandering to racism in a scaremongering immigration/housing leaflet released in aid of her 2005 campaign.

– Both Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul were connected to an anonymous ‘revenge’ attack that responded to my criticism of Anne Milton by implying I was a homosexual (to them; a sick perversion), claiming I was a bad father, suggesting that I had falsified evidence against Milton, and attempting to blackmail/bully me into silence through my clients and place of work. Later, these attacks evolved into repeated anonymous claims that I had stalked Anne Milton. Anne Milton now claims privately that she said/did nothing to encourage this, but the fact is that she allowed it to carry on for years without correction, clarification or any kind of apology, even long after both Chambers and Paul were given their marching orders.

– I still have to hand the evidence that proves Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul created/promoted a weblog claiming a political opponent was a paedophile. The matter was reported to CCHQ, but referred back to Anne Milton and the local association for action. None was taken. In fact, Anne Milton and the Conservatives went on to endorse both Mike Chambers and Dennis Paul in the 2007 council elections. The Guildford Conservative Association still hold the position that they took no action at the time because the victim chose not to complain and (hilariously) that I had only complained via email and “not in writing”. Despite my proving Mike Chambers to be the primary author/promoter of the smear, he wasn’t even compelled by his fellow Conservatives to remove the single-purpose website hosting it.

I just called the Guildford Conservative Association for comment on the latter especially. They demurred, but I can report that Anne Milton’s staff do think that she deserves credit because (one hopes) she wasn’t directly involved in any of the actual typing.

I suspect it is here that we finally edge closer to the truth of Anne Milton’s recent statement…

“I am making a commitment from the outset not to resort to personal attacks on my opponents.”

… because she doesn’t need to resort to personal attacks if she sits back and lets her underlings do her dirty work for her, just as she has done repeatedly in the past.

That said, it is possible that I’ve misjudged Anne Milton; perhaps she really has changed and her recent commitment to positive campaigning is sincere.

If this is the case, she will have no problem (finally) publicly disowning Dennis Paul and Mike Chambers, and every smear they published. Perhaps she might even find the time to apologise for not acting earlier to stop the smears published on her behalf.

But I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for any of that if I were you.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 9, 2010

Category: Christ..., Tories! Tories! Tories!

(Psst! I hope to raise these matters and others in The Dorries edition of The People’s Pamphlet. Come join us.)

It’s election time, and disappointingly, David Cameron has shot out of the gates seeking to rally his right-wing Christian base with a promise to lower the abortion limit to 20 or 22 weeks.

The Conservatives had their chance to make their scientific and political case on this in 2008 and they blew it.

They not only blew the vote, they exploded a dirty great hole in the side of their shiny new facade, as the following examples will show…

David Cameron allowed Nadine Dorries to run with the ball on her 2008 ‘Alive & Kicking’ campaign, and that MP used as her ‘evidence’ several dubious claims about events she claimed to witness as a nurse, including this one repeated today by Christian Concern for our Nation (1, 2):

At the time of the 2008 vote, former nurse Nadine Dorries, now MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, told fellow MPs how she had held a foetus that gasped for breath and took seven minutes to die after a botched abortion. Ms Dorries said: ‘What I thought we were committing that day was murder.’ (source)

Nadine Dorries has a long track record of relying on apocryphal evidence to elicit an emotional response in her favour (see suicide/expenses for her most famous example to date), so I have reason to doubt this event ever really happened as described to begin with. Further, my lead example not only shows Nadine Dorries using apocryphal evidence during the abortion debate, but reveals an alarming level of ignorance about maternal medicine and basic human biology that should cast doubt on the specifics of any medical procedure Dorries claims to have witnessed:

Hand of Hope

In this post on her pretend-blog during the abortion debate (and on the main campaign website) Nadine Dorries presented this image of a foetus ‘reaching’ out of the womb as evidence that life begins earlier than science says it does. When it was put to her that the attending surgeon’s version of events completely contradicted those of her witness (the photographer who describes the event as “God’s message to the world”) Dorries, in a further post laughingly titled ‘Hand of Truth’, none-too-subtly implied that the doctor changed his story because feared violent pro-choice lobbyists (!), showed complete ignorance of how pregnancy works and what a placenta does, and claimed that the “jiggered edges” of what she described as a “tear in the uterus” most likely resulted from a “hand unexpectedly thrust out”… by a 21 week old foetus.

I’ve heard some MPs talk bullshit in my time, but the idea that a 21-week-old foetus could punch its way out of the womb (with or without a starting incision) reached new heights for me.

Full post: Bloggerheads – People of Mid Bedfordshire; your MP, Nadine Dorries, is a muppet

Misleading Claims/Statistics

MPs really don’t like being called on this, but Nadine Dorries clearly misled the House when she made this claim:

“The public do not say that they want the limit to come down from 24 weeks; the public – including three quarters of women – say that they want 20 weeks. They specify what they want.” – Nadine Dorries (source)

“Three quarters of women” did no such thing. Nadine Dorries either completely misunderstood the data or (more likely in my experience) deliberately misrepresented it in order to give the false impression that she enjoyed a popular mandate. As the raw poll data showed, it wasn’t 75% of women specifying 20 weeks, but 15%, and then only because it was fed to them as an option. After literally inviting scrutiny of her assertions in the House, Dorries has never returned to this point.

Full post: Bloggerheads – Nadine Dorries: unbelievable

Laws Drafted by Fundamentalists

Recently Dorries insisted that religion should be kept out of Parliament… but only because she feared it might lead to sharia law:

While the votes may come from secular Tories, the ringleaders of any abortion-tightening attempt will be Christians. In 2008, when parliament was debating embryology, Nadine Dorries, a high-profile backbench Tory MP, led the charge against abortion – and says she is informed by her Christianity (though “if you mention God in an argument in the UK, you lose,” she says). One leading anti-abortion activist noted that behind the scenes the Christian Medical Fellowship and the Lawyers Christian Fellowship were “absolutely indispensable. They did most of the heavy lifting on research. But we could never acknowledge their role. Never. People would never take us seriously again.” (Dorries says another reason she avoids talking about faith in parliament is out of fear it will set a precedent by which Muslim MPs could express – and impose – theirs. “There is no place for sharia law in Britain and as politicians we have to be aware and vigilant to ensure that we don’t ease or facilitate its acceptance,” she says.) (source)

Obvious bias/bigotry aside, how does Nadine Dorries explain/justify her attempts to introduce into law legislation worded by Christian fundamentalists? Does she now think she was wrong* to do so, or does she think it’s OK when it’s ‘our’ fundamentalists?

(*Going by the FT article, I suspect she thinks it’s fine and dandy to inject some Christian fundamentalism into law, just so long as everybody keeps their head down and nobody finds out about it.)

Full post: Bloggerheads – Nadine Dorries and Andrea Williams

David Cameron did not express any doubt or disquiet about the above or any of the case that Nadine Dorries put forward during or after the abortion debate. If anything, he praised her efforts. Repeatedly.

David Cameron either thinks us to be weak-minded fools, or he is one himself.

How might we discover which is closer to the truth?

Well, next time David Cameron brings the abortion issue up, ask him what percentage of women specify a preference for 20 weeks…. or if he really thinks a human foetus can punch its way out of the womb.

Oh, and you may also want to ask if he thinks it’s right to attempt to introduce legislation worded by fundamentalists, because that’s exactly what happened the last time the Conservatives sought to change the laws governing abortion.

(Psst! I hope to raise these matters and others in The Dorries edition of The People’s Pamphlet. Come join us.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 1, 2010

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

No, we don’t plan to take 4 weeks away from work/families to hound Nadine Dorries, park a van outside her house and basically stalk her on the campaign trail. That would be just a little bit OTT.

The joke is this is all too close to the fantasy that Nadine Dorries and others hold to.

The People's PamphletThe punchline is that while all the van/stalking crap is fake… The People’s Pamphlet is real.

The relevant wiki is brought to us by the capable and clever Dave Cross (cheers, Dave):

Fellow Traveller’s Wiki: Home of the People’s Pamphlet

Anyone claiming this to be a personal attack of bile and vitriol is going to look a little bit foolish (not to mention dishonest), as it’s designed from the ground up to be as relevant and issue-driven as possible. The whole exercise revolves around deciding on the best issues to put forward, and the fairest (yet most effective) way to present them.

Transparency? The whole thing will be built/negotiated in public, which normally would give the subject plenty of time to prepare for any of the questions raised… but the difference with Dorries over many other MPs is that there are now far too many pertinent questions that she has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid, and by now she cannot afford to answer any of them with any honesty.

So, unlike the baseless, childish and pathetic #kerryout attacks (1, 2), this will be an issue-driven campaign that will be more transparent than anything that’s come before it.

We will be strongly encouraging people to contribute under their own name, and if you’re attached to any party-political campaign/team, you won’t be able to take part.

Also, the project has its own safety-valve; without sufficient support and consensus, nothing gets printed/delivered.

Each contributor will be asked to make a minor initial donation at the point of registration (to keep the site ticking over and keep timewasters away) but we intend to organise the primary/major donations via the wiki, too; with contributors pledging what they can (if they are in agreement with the direction of the letter/pamphlet) toward a goal of (yet to be fully determined/finalised) printing/delivery costs.

If you don’t like where the letter/pamphlet is going, you pull out. Simples. If you agree with where it’s going, we expect to meet you at the lock-off point; where you put your money where your mouth is and sign your name to the letter/pamphlet.

Further, like any wiki, this has the potential for expansion, and while there are very few MPs who are quite so mendacious and reckless with the truth as Nadine Dorries, we are open to the idea of expanding the project to cover other candidates, for as long as we can do so credibly, sensibly and safely.

But first we’re going to start discussing and forming a letter/pamphlet that we intend to deliver to every household in the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire, and we invite you to join us.

And no, this time we’re not kidding.

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 1, 2010

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

Operation Dump DorriesRight, that’s it; I am thoroughly fed up with the notion that Nadine Dorries can lie and cheat her way through a term and expect to keep her all-too-safe seat. The good people of Mid Bedfordshire need to be warned about the party-political (and often all-too-personal) games that Nadine Dorries plays using the power they afford her.

So, along with Dave Cross and Sim-O, I have successfully negotiated 4 weeks off work & family duties, and together we intend to campaign against Nadine Dorries.

Running as an independent is a mug’s game, and we’re not going to pretend for a minute that any of us are prepared to represent the people of Mid Bedfordshire as their Member for Parliament. Hell, we’re not even going to endorse any of the other candidates. What we seek to do is inform the good people of Mid Beds of the full consequences of voting for Nadine Dorries (if they suspect they’ll have a mind to).

We already have a rocking campervan at our disposal, and while we’re not allowed to paint it (boo!), we’ve come up with a way to safely attach ruddy great posters to the sides and rear of the vehicle, and we already have permission from three local property owners, one of whom promises (with a laugh) that we will indeed be able to see Nadine’s house* from our van.

(*Obviously we are referring to her spacious 12-bedroom constituency ‘second’ home, not her single-bedroom ‘main’ home.)

If it’s as close as he says it is, we’ve got a great internets connection and everything we need to install a mobile webcam; you’ll be able to watch Nadine’s front door live (and maybe even see who’s been parking in her driveway) and maybe even sometimes come with us on our Disco Rounds. Oh, didn’t I mention we’ll also have her rigged for sound? We’ll have a classic weatherproof public address speaker on that roof-rack within a couple of days, thanks to eBay. To request a song to be played on our Disco Rounds, use the hashtags #dumpdorries, #gonads, #discorounds and #trackrequest, then your song, then the artist.

Sim-O will be along shortly with a post about the NadMobile and its fittings, so hang tight for the specs!

MINI-UPDATE – As promised, here’s Sim-O with the details about The NadMobile.


But even that’s not all; the REALLY good news for you is that while we’re on the ground in Mid Bedfordshire we will be spending a LOT of time delivering pamphlets, but we don’t intend to deliver our message alone.

We also have a nearby base with a print lab that’s already taking shape; it will feature at least 4 laser printers (two with capacity for A3 sheets, and all built like tanks) and we have a BIG pile of toner and recycled paper to hand. While we’ve our own plans to use this stuff to take issue with Nadine Dorries about a whole bunch of stuff that’s been weighing on our minds, we have also pledged to deliver one extra pamphlet on behalf of all those who know Nadine Dorries best.

The People's PamphletThis is what we have dubbed The People’s Pamphlet.

Dave Cross will be along shortly to give more details about that and more.

MINI-UPDATE – As promised, here’s Dave with the details about The People’s Pamphlet.

The short version is that soon a wiki will go live that will allow people to contribute, develop and perfect the ideas/images/text that will go into a kick-ass pamphlet, which we will then happily print and distribute on your behalf throughout the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire (asking for nothing more but a minor donation toward costs).

What do YOU think the people of Mid Bedfordshire deserve to know about? The full story of Dorries’ expenses fits, fiddles and flip flops, perhaps. Foetuses that can punch their way out of a womb, maybe. There’s room for maybe half a dozen issues maximum and it will be up to you to create and compose the overall message, which we will then complete, print and deliver.

What say you, Britain? Will you help us in our quest to save the land of Mid Narnia from the forces of darkness?

[Psst! The tag to use in Twitter is #dumpdorries. The link to share is ]


No, we don’t plan to take 4 weeks away from work/families to hound Nadine Dorries, park a van outside her house and basically stalk her on the campaign trail. That would be just a little bit OTT.

The joke is this is all too close to the fantasy Nadine Dorries and others hold to.

The punchline is that while all the van/stalking crap is fake… The People’s Pamphlet is real.

Nadine Dorries: The People’s Pamphlet

See you on the flipside of a plain sheet of A4 paper. Cheers all.

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 25, 2010

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

What Lua Cooper did to JimmySparkle was totally unacceptable. It was also very human.

Though Lua Cooper is formally employed by an auto industry trade/lobbying group, she also works (or perhaps worked) as a significant figure in the campaign team for the Conservative Party. She even starred in this video showing people how to become an active off-site member of the campaign team for the Conservatives. Her boyfriend, Sam Coates, had just recently been appointed ‘co-ordinater’ of Tory online campaigning and until very recently she was up there in the lights, rubbing elbows with important Conservatives and sitting in the front row while David Cameron spoke inspiring words about ‘change’.

On Monday, both her boyfriend and a cause she believed in were under assault, and many people around her (including Sam) were speaking of the dark forces of Labour at work. Events also unfolded very quickly, and I think things should at least be considered from her point of view and in the context of the moment:

– I sincerely doubt she used a false name, and ‘Lua’ was probably just misheard as ‘Laura’. There appears to be very little point in changing her name so little to disguise it, especially when she was claiming to operate on behalf of CCHQ at the time.

– Any claim or implication Lua made in the heat of the moment that she was acting on behalf of CCHQ is completely understandable, and IMO easily fixed with an apology to both parties. Lua simply overstepped her bounds while overestimating her authority/importance, as campaign volunteers sometimes do.

– Any false claim that JimmySparkle had been involved in redirections to porn/shock sites can be attributable to the confusion of the moment and/or Lua’s judgment being influenced by those Conservatives around her, many of whom still cling to the delusion that his actions (and most everyone else’s) were part of a Labour conspiracy. Again, this can probably be addressed with a simple apology.

– The bullying of JimmySparkle by going through his employer and using spurious legal threats as leverage is a little harder to explain/apologise away, but sadly we’re robbed of the context of Lua Cooper’s testimony, I suspect for much the same reason we’re forced to go without any kind of apology from her;

A [Conservative] Party spokesman said:

“This person is not a member of staff and her actions were not authorised by the Party. She is a friend of a party worker and felt strongly about the way this website had been hijacked and took it upon herself to make comments on the issue. She did this without our knowledge and we do not condone her actions.”

There are several misleading elements to this statement, but there’s no question about CCHQ making visible attempts to distance themselves from Lua Cooper.

On Monday afternoon, the Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/etc. pages for Lua Cooper (i.e. the web pages showing just how close she was to key Conservatives and editors of certain ‘unbiased’ magazines funded by Lord Ashcroft) were all quietly disappeared. I doubt this was an entirely voluntary act of self-censorship. I further suspect that Lua Cooper was issued with strict instructions to keep her mouth shut.

CCHQ may be retaining her as an informal campaign contributor or some such nonsense and using that as leverage, but it’s pretty bloody obvious that her loyalty to the Party and her boyfriend (who is still employed by the Party) are the big levers here; even if the threat of severance went unspoken, it is there.

So while I sincerely hope and trust that Lua Cooper is a good person who wants to apologise, I doubt very much if she feels free/able to.

(Sure, the possibility remains that Lua Cooper is such a highly focused Conservative that she refuses to accept reality and therefore cannot discern right from wrong, but until I see evidence of that I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she would make amends immediately if the potential personal consequences weren’t so great.)

Sam Coates, on the other hand, does not get off quite so easily as far as I’m concerned:

Even if we put the cock-up of the #cashgordon campaign to one side and accept without question the notion that Lua Cooper acted without his knowledge/approval, Sam Coates was confronted publicly with the name ‘Laura Cooper’ after the fact, pretended not to recognise it, and – acting like a child in a playground – even had the temerity to throw the question back in JimmySparkle’s face, as if any deceit were his, and not the other way around:

JimmySparkle: Apparently the woman who phoned was a Laura Cooper, no idea if she was genuine. Claimed I hacked their site. Fail fail fail #cashgordon

Niall Paterson (SKY News): Cheers @chrismou. So @samuelcoates, anyone called Laura Cooper at CCHQ?

SamuelCoates: @niallpaterson @chrismou nope! Anything like that would have come through our team as it’s our thing – and I can guarantee that it hasn’t.

Niall Paterson (SKY News): @samuelcoates Just checking – there’s absolutely nothing in @jimmysparkle’s comments?

SamuelCoates: @niallpaterson no – why would we do that?!

JimmySparkle: so do you know Laura Cooper?

SamuelCoates: @jimmysparkle no, do you?

It was not only a deceit, it was a pathetic and stupid deceit… from the head of Tory online campaigning who then went into 24-hour tweet-silence (in the middle of one online campaign and at the start of another) and still refuses to discuss the matter, despite there being dozens of valid calls for an apology from a variety of interested players/observers.

That’s one hell of an embarrassment for a man who’s supposed to be leading the charge in online engagement, but still Sam forges on like the Black Knight of comedy legend… which brings us to the heart of the matter today:

Sam Coates may have been largely blameless (if a little clueless) right up until the point the name ‘Laura Cooper’ was mentioned, but it’s primarily his conduct from that moment on that’s the issue here. To remain silent and deny error is to deny reality, and if Sam manages to hold out any longer, his delusion/collusion in favour of his beloved Conservatives will be on par with that of the Iraqi Information Minister, and I really can’t see that working for him or any other propagandist* with a job to do.

(*For example; not only will he be unable to praise the success of any campaign with any credibility from this point on, but crucial denials will be mocked, and he’s going to look like a damn fool the next time he demands an apology from someone. All of this puts to one side the difficulty of Coates looking like a bit of a powerless cad by favouring the Party’s concerns ahead of his partner’s.)

[Psst! Sam & Lua, you can count yourselves lucky; if the boot were on the other foot, you know damn well that Lua would’ve been labelled a bullying bunny-boiler within minutes of her outburst and rabid, mostly anonymous Tory bloggers would be relentlessly reinforcing this notion for days if not weeks afterwards, purely for political gain.]

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 23, 2010

Category: Tories! Tories! Tories!

A few days ago, a Conservative campaign site titled ‘Cash Gordon’ emerged. It was a continuation of their tellingly empty, negative and dishonest response to their difficulties with Lord Ashcroft (recent example of this titanic struggle with the truth here), and it was found to be even less impressive when it turned out to be a not-inexpensive but hastily carved ‘cookie cutter’ job done by designers in the US who mostly stick to issues/views the Conservatives are somewhat divided on and would rather not mention this side of an election.

Sam Coates (more), acting in his role as co-ordinater of Tory online campaigning, was busy countering this with some spin, while at the same time hailing any negative publicity as a win for his campaign; it mattered not that his campaign was being criticised and ridiculed, so long as his magical, mind-altering hashtag ‘#cashgordon’ was reaching eyeballs.

Coates continued to maintain this position beyond the point most of us would consider credible… or wise:

I can’t possibly improve on the remaining documentation by Meg Pickard, and I shan’t try.

Sam Coates found out very quickly that you can’t run an open channel on a faulty premise, but continued to miss the point by claiming victory while simultaneously blaming dark forces for any failures that were in fact further victories. Meanwhile, his site was being toyed with via the open door he was bragging about just minutes earlier; soon after it was discovered that images could be posted to the site in this way, text Coates was vacuuming into his site was suddenly successfully issuing JavaScript-based instructions to redirect people to another site… then another, then another, as more and more people discovered the game of banging Sam’s open door about.

It wasn’t long before someone cried ‘hacker’… and one of the people who did that was Lua Cooper.

Lua Cooper looked up the details of one of the people who had published one of these redirects (this one, to their own site) and called their employer, claiming to be acting on behalf of CCHQ, while falsely accusing this person of being associated with some of the redirects to more colourful locations (i.e. ‘shock sites’ which she described as “porn sites”) and threatening legal action.

You should read the following Twitter-based exchange knowing that Lua Cooper is Sam Coates’ girlfriend… it’s far more illuminating that way:

JimmySparkle: conservative party phoned my workplace claiming they may sue me for supposedly hacking their website… tweeting != hacking. lol #cashgordon

SamuelCoates: @jimmysparkle er, no we didn’t… #cashgordon

SamuelCoates: One of the guys behind the #CashGordon hacks (@jimmysparkle) is now falsely claiming that we’ve rang him about it. More evidence of malice?

Niall Paterson (SKY News): @jimmysparkle Any chance you could clear this up? Who called, when, what did they say? Cheers.

Chris Mou: @niallpaterson Girl called claiming to be from Tory party. Threatened to sue for “hacking” and redirecting to “horrific” pictures. (lie)

Chris Mou: Boss told her to call back tomorrow if she wanted to speak to him. Assume if it *was* real they won’t be calling back now.

Chris Mou: Incidently, she said her name was “Laura Cooper”.

JimmySparkle: Apparently the woman who phoned was a Laura Cooper, no idea if she was genuine. Claimed I hacked their site. Fail fail fail #cashgordon

Niall Paterson (SKY News): Cheers @chrismou. So @samuelcoates, anyone called Laura Cooper at CCHQ?

SamuelCoates: @niallpaterson @chrismou nope! Anything like that would have come through our team as it’s our thing – and I can guarantee that it hasn’t.

Niall Paterson (SKY News): @samuelcoates Just checking – there’s absolutely nothing in @jimmysparkle’s comments?

SamuelCoates: @niallpaterson no – why would we do that?!

JimmySparkle: so do you know Laura Cooper?

SamuelCoates: @jimmysparkle no, do you?

Note – it is at this stage that JimmySparkle is tipped off by an anonymous ‘single purpose’ account, and the jig is up.

yeppyfd: @jimmysparkle It may be conicidence but Sam Coates has a gf called LUA Cooper….. or it may not

JimmySparkle: wow @SamuelCoates did you get your girl friend to call up threatening legal action? #cashgordon

JimmySparkle: #cashgordon @SamuelCoates where did Lua Cooper’s twitter account go?

We’ll get to Lua Cooper’s hurriedly-removed Twitter account in a moment. First, this follow-up tweetage from Niall Paterson and the CCHQ Press release that followed:

Niall Paterson (SKY News): But even in the cab home, i’m working – Tories confirm tonight that Lua Cooper DID contact @jimmysparkle but is not a member of staff

Niall Paterson (SKY News): Ms Cooper is a “friend” of party worker, her actions were neither authorised nor condoned by CCHQ. She “felt strongly” abt hijacking of site

A [Conservative] Party spokesman said:

“This person is not a member of staff and her actions were not authorised by the Party. She is a friend of a party worker and felt strongly about the way this website had been hijacked and took it upon herself to make comments on the issue. She did this without our knowledge and we do not condone her actions.”

She did a little more than make comments on the issue; she attempted to bully someone through their employer with false accusations and baseless legal threats.

CCHQ also fails to claim anything about the call coming from outside their offices, but I guess we’ll find out more about that if/when the relevant call logs become available

In the meantime, feel free to browse for remnants of the Twitter/Facebook/etc. accounts for Lua Cooper that were cleaned out so suddenly late yesterday afternoon; this cache dating back to 5 March reveals that Lua Cooper is indeed very close to Samuel Coates, and worthy of (and excited about) front-row seats to David Cameron speeches.

As has been pointed out by Unity, she also appears in a CCHQ instruction/recruitment video. (That it’s for telephone canvassing is not only funny, but one good reason to suspect that when Lua Cooper made that call, she did so from a HQ-provided phone.)

There are also old tweets from Lua Cooper where she messages The Conservatives’ ‘Communities Editor’ Craig Elder about his concerns he may have packed too lightly for an away day; “if you need anything I can bring some of sam’s thing for you and drop it to cchq?”

In short, Lua Cooper appears to be very close not only to Samuel Coates, but to the campaign and the cause and many key people at CCHQ.

For CCHQ to pretend otherwise is to be expected. For Sam Coates to pretend that he doesn’t even know her or recognise her name is an insult to our intelligence, and he can’t pretend to have done it out of gallantry given the way he’s cowering under his desk today while his better half is left with her arse hanging out.

Many people are owed an apology here. Will none of these Conservatives step forward and take responsibility for their actions?

Perhaps Lua can start the ball rolling with a simple explanation/apology for her targeting a man through his employer in this extremely dishonest and unfair manner… assuming she’s her own person and not under any pressure from Sam/CCHQ to keep her mouth shut.

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