Posted by Tim Ireland at July 17, 2008

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

From the end-of-term report for a 10-year-old I’m very proud of:

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 17, 2008

Category: Flash Music Video, Games and Objects

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Top stuff from JibJab. As with their 2004 offering, they play no favourites and pull no punches as they cut, slice, dice and mash their way through the main players in the race for the White House. There’s also a neat little viral extra that allows you to put yourself (or a friend/enemy) into the video for a cameo appearance as the average voter.

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 16, 2008

Category: Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch

The Sun – Tabloid Lies is a new collaborative blog that starts here.

Regulars may appreciate that this first incarnation of an ongoing Sun-watch project has been built on the ashes of Rebekah Wade.

Don’t worry if I haven’t already been in touch with an invite; I won’t have time to get this done properly until later in the week.

If you’d like to get involved and/or have a preferred beat, now is the time to drop me a line via email.

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 14, 2008

Category: Flash Music Video, Games and Objects, Updates

I have one video on the loose and two more on the workbench. I have a pile of raw footage to look through today and a shedload of writing to do besides, but here’s a quick something for those who missed the memo about the final decision on this:

I’m going for The Scum. Or, rather, *we* are going for The Scum.

Check in on the QT if you’d like to be part of it. What I have in mind will require more than one writer/artist/blogger.

Oh, and don’t forget…

You will watch my new video. You will link to my new video. You will express your love and admiration for my new video. Once these tasks are complete, you will awake feeling alert and refreshed.

You will watch my new video. You will link to my new video. You will express your love and admiration for my new video. Once these tasks are complete, you will awake feeling alert and refreshed.

You will watch my new video. You will link to my new video. You will express your love and admiration for my new video. Once these tasks are complete, you will awake feeling alert and refreshed.

You will watch my new video. You will link to my new video. You will express your love and admiration for my new video. Once these tasks are complete, you will awake feeling alert and refreshed.

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 11, 2008

Category: UK Libel Law

Craig is being bullied by lawyers again, and could do with your support.

No doubt there’ll be plenty more over the weekend.

UPDATE – Meanwhile…

Unity – Source for the gander: Whatever you might personally think of the underlying issues, there is no doubt that David has, in blogging terms, handled the story correctly… And, on that basis alone, I personally feel that we all, as bloggers, should be supporting David and Harry’s Place, much as we’ve supported other bloggers when they’ve faced the threat of vexatious legal action. But – as you might expect from me – there’s a little more to be said…

UPDATE (12 Jul) – Back to Craig Murray and his recent hassle from paper-pushing bullies:

Unity – Murray faces more legal bullying: To appreciate the full scope of what Schillings are trying to do here, you need to read the letter that was sent to Craig and his publishers, which was marked ‘Not For Publication’ – Craig has it on his blog in PDF format, but to make life easier for everyone, here’s the full text of the letter…

Click, read and share.

It’s not the first time that Schillings have played this game. Their top-secret threats are so very special that they’re protected by copyright even. Bless ’em. Bless ’em dry.

My copy of the letter appears below the fold at the ‘Usmanov’ blog* (woo-hoo! chase me!) because I miss the love that Schillings used to send my way. Repeat it in a post of your own if you’re feeling frisky, but do be aware that there may be a legal risk, even from these clowns.

(Psst! Don’t expect a lot of noise about this from ‘bloggers’ who themselves have become fond of secret threats and intimidation.)

[*UPDATE – Location changed. I forgot that I’m sharing server space with innocent bystanders, and Schillings have a record of knocking off a few civilians to the left and right of their intended target(s). Of course, I’m not suggesting for a second that any of their clients could be accused of anything like that….]

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

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 9, 2008

Category: Inneresting

I’m writing today, but I do have a small distraction for you, as the initial research involved comic books and I’ve found a whopper that I can share with the class:

Treasure Chest – This Godless Communism

Regulars of Bloggerheads can heighten their enjoyment my reminding themselves of the extreme lengths certain rabid anti-communists went to during their college years to keep Teh Red Menace at bay… and wondering throughout the saga how much of this crap they believed then and might still believe today.

(Background to title here. More treasure here. Browsing by ‘title’ appears to be the best option.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 8, 2008

Category: George W. Bush

Mail on Sunday – All The President’s Men: The unimaginable lengths needed to keep George Bush alive: For his recent trip to London, the work called on the expertise of 904 civilian staff from the Department of Defense, 600 from the Armed Services, 250 Secret Service officers, 205 White House staff, 103 US Information Agency staff, 44 Department of State staff, 30 more from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Labour, Transportation and Treasury, 18 Senior Advance Office staff, 16 members of Congress (to tick legal boxes) and 12 sniffer dogs… The London leg of Bush’s visit was the weak spot, as far as the Secret Service was concerned. (via)

1. What, no mention of the fine work of our local boys? Tch. They’re not all undercover thugs, you know. Some of them would like a pat on the back for kicking a few heads in.

2. Now let’s all pretend that the dinner at Downing St was necessary, and that all of this time and effort was spent keeping Bush alive, and not making him look good as he limps to the end of the presidency he didn’t earn.

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 8, 2008

Category: The War on Stupid

AP – Londoners mark July 7 bombings anniversary: Londoners on Monday marked the third anniversary of the July 7 suicide bombings that killed 52 commuters during a rush-hour attack. Hundreds of commuters and survivors stood silently as Mayor Boris Johnson and others laid flowers outside King’s Cross train and subway station at 8:50 a.m. three years after the attacks in 2005.

But will there be a similar event or service (including the new Mayor of London) in memory of Jean Charles de Menezes?

Serious question.

(And no, this doesn’t count.)

[Psst! Here’s a quick ‘Meanwhile…’ for you. Prepare yourselves for the giddy thrill of hearing what Mr X said about Mr Y.]

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