Monday, March 19, 2007

Is the Labour Blogosphere About to Take Off?

Mike Ion, a former Labour Candidate, has a piece on Comment is Free predicting that 2007 will see Labour blogs come into their own. He cites ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie as agreeing with him. Tim thinks that Labour's Deputy Leadership contest could do for Labour blogs what the Tory leadership contest did for ConservativeHome. In a way I hope they're both right, you might be surprised to hear.


Bryan Appleyard said...

Won't happen. The left hasn't been able to write effectively or well since Orwell and he seems increasingly right wing with the passage of time.

kris said...

what would they say? How the great Labour experiment of the past 10 years has been a resounding success?

Devil's Kitchen said...

"what would they say? How the great Labour experiment of the past 10 years has been a resounding success?"

Well, you know what they say: stick to what you know...


Unsworth said...

Yep, Appleyard is just about right on this one. The quality of writing and thought manifested on most examples that I've seen is pretty poor.

It's because they've failed to live up to their own (stated) aspirations.

Guido 2.0 said...

Nothing like a little myth-building to boost morale, hey Iain?

Anonymous said...

Labour blogs won't take off, until the Tories are back in power, its always easier to attack than defend.

Guido 2.0 said...

The first weblogs by MPs were by a Richard Allan, a Lib-Dem MP, and Tom Watson, a Labour MP.

Also, in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq and during the lonnnnng aftermath that followed, many pro-Labour (but anti-Blair) weblogs emerged or 'took' off. The Tories are the late-comers to this party, but they like to pretend otherwise.... don't they, Iain?

Wait... before you answer that question, a direct response to this question is long-overdue:

Iain, do you deny sending a bulk unsolicited email to boost the number of inbound links to your website?

Anonymous said...

Their deputy leadership campaign might provide a temporary stimulus but (as is the way with deputy leaders) I doubt they'll be able to keep it up!

Anonymous said...

P.S. I see we have another Ireland infestation. Doesn't he realise just how boring he is?

Iain Dale said...

Tim Ireland, who continues to masquerade as Guido 2.0 - In the last email I sent to Tim Ireland I told him it would be the last one he ever got from me. Ever. He should know I meant it.

Since then he's been spamming me with email after email asking the same question as if he has got some divine right to an answer. Quite how he's got the cheek to ask it seeing as he spends his days link spamming and perverting Google links I don't know. But if it keeps him out of mischief.

Oh, and by the way, I started my blog in March 2002.

So, Tim, run along like a good chap. There's nothing for you here anymore. We're all rather bored by you.

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see the views of the Labour grass roots after 10 years of New Labour Government. Will also be interesting to see some serious intellectual justifications for left-wing beliefs and policies. If there are any...

Anonymous said...

The main problem for the lefty blogs has been a complete lack of a sense of humour. Nasty barbs and sarcastic remarks do not make a sense of humour as some of them think. To be funny, you have to be genuinely prepared to laugh at yourself and accept that you may be wrong - and most of the lefties can't do either, whereas the good non-left blogs can.

Anonymous said...

"Iain, do you deny sending a bulk unsolicited email to boost the number of inbound links to your website?"

Can you please keep your dispute with Iain off of this blog? Email him or something? You might be in the right, you might be in the wrong, but either way I really don't care. Iain Dale could be in charge of the London mafia as far as I'm concerned, I just come here to debate and comment on political issues.

Anonymous said...

brian appleyard 11.55 AM: You say: "The left hasn't been able to write effectively or well since Orwell ..."

I agree. But many on the left disown Orwell. Their problem is, he had an unerring, dispassionate eye for the truth which sits uncomfortably with the myths of socialism.

Crossman is often put forward as the intellectual powerhouse of post-war socialism, but was actually just a rather unpleasant class warrior from the claret drinking community.

Bernard Levin was incomparable, but not really a man of the left.

Michael Foot, to do him justice, wrote very good book reviews. He should have stuck to that.

Anonymous said...

Look at what great nulab models there are:

PM's Petitions, which went down every time there was a surge in angry, anti-road pricing protestors' signatures on the site and which, much of the time, refused to allow the public to sign the petition. Given that,it was little short of miraculous that 1.7 million were able to sign.

There would have been 3-5 million signtures if the site hadn't been hadn't been tampered with.

And good old Goldilocks and the three Blears blog. Admittedly, Hazel Blears is alone among nulabs in that she doesn't shirk from allowing comments which are highly critical of nulab's record - however she doesn't reply to the points made.

Nice ones, nulab, I'm so looking forward to some REAL interaction with you lot :)

Bishop Hill said...

Hmm. I've never been able to take Mike Ion seriously since his hilarious piece on CiF.

"There is radicalism in Britain and it is to be found in the ordinary, in the mundane daily miracles that are taking place in our schools, our hospitals and our local communities. It is a radicalism that Labour members can be proud of and it is a radicalism that is beginning, slowly, to change this country for the better."

I've kind of assumed since then that he lives in a parallel universe to the rest of us.

That he publishes a piece claiming Labour blogging is on the up, just days after the demise of the Daily, does nothing to alter this view.

kris said...

Iain- you have your answer:

If "Guido 2" aka little timmy represent the best of what the left have to offer, you've got nothing to worry about.

Bob said...

Anything must be better than recess monkey................

susan press said...

Bryan Appleyard should read the Mirror's Brian Reade and Paul Routledge. Ian Aitken, who still writes a column for Orwell's former home at Tribune is a splendid writer.
Labour bloggers are on the up in response to the complete absence of debate by the New Labour establishment.If there is a leadership election ( and that is looking increasingly likely) it will in part be down to the waves of opposition in the blogosphere.We are sick of the official lines being spouted by the Government and last week's rebellion on Trident reflects that. Labour also wants a leadership election - whatever Margaret Beckett says and however much Brown doesn't.
If anyone thinks the Labour Party ( as opposed to the Neo-Conservative Govt) is not "left" any more they should start trawling the net. Points taken about sectarian websites, but many of my comrades on the left and centre-left write well without resorting to the kind of mindless mud-throwing you get on G Fawkes.
I hope I have a sense of humour but with Brown and Bliar in charge it's sometimes a bit difficult.

Guido 2.0 said...

Tim Ireland, who continues to masquerade as Guido 2.0

This is a lie. A visit to profile or website makes Manic's true identity clear, and always has done. Another deliberate attempt from Iain to smear an opponent, ladies and gentlemen.

In the last email I sent to Tim Ireland I told him it would be the last one he ever got from me. Ever. He should know I meant it.

Ah, yes... the flounce. Manic remembers it well.

Since then he's been spamming me with email after email asking the same question as if he has got some divine right to an answer.

Pressing someone for an answer is spamming now? Pfft!

Iain, you accused Manic of being a spammer, when evidence and common sense says otherwise.

You did this after Manic produced concrete evidence that shows anyone with common sense that YOU are a spammer.

Manic has every right to call you on this, and to do so here where you first published this and other baseless smears.

Quite how he's got the cheek to ask it seeing as he spends his days link spamming and perverting Google links I don't know. But if it keeps him out of mischief.

Yet *another* deliberate attempt from Iain to smear an opponent, ladies and gentlemen!

Iain, my providing links to back any given case or press for an answer to a valid question has no effect on Google's search results, but thanks for showing your ignorance. Again.

Oh, and by the way, I started my blog in March 2002.

No, Iain, you registered for a Blogger account in March 2002. You did not actually publish anything until Tuesday, December 16, 2003.

So, Tim, run along like a good chap.


There's nothing for you here anymore.

There is plenty for Manic to do here. Even if it weren't for the ongoing mission to reveal the many ways in which you deceive your readers and viewers, there is the small matter of you publishing and penning a series of smears and insults about Manic and other left-wing bloggers even after you declared that; If people abuse the hospitality or insult other users their comments will be deleted without explanation.

We're all rather bored by you.

This was old when Paul Staines first tried it. Learn some new tricks, Iain.

Now, back to the (unanswered) question:

Iain, do you deny sending a bulk unsolicited email to boost the number of inbound links to your website?

Iain Dale said...


Anonymous said...

Iain. You've simply got to ban/block this moron.

Anonymous said...

"Iain. You've simply got to ban/block this moron."

Or Iain could actually answer the question.

Anonymous said...

Stop giving this idiot a platform. Which part of piss off doesn't Manic understand. DELETE.

The Remittance Man said...


If he did, timmy would simply upgrade himself to the next version (Guido 2.1 anybody?)

By the way. Where is this mythic spam mail? I'm pretty sure my e-mail address is in Iain's files somewhere and I haven't recieved anything.

Am I missing out? I'm starting to feel neglected :-(

Anonymous said...

Iain, please block this muppet.

How long before you can invoke anti-harrassment legislation?

Anonymous said...

I always thought the late Paul Foot used to write exceptionally well - whether one agreed with what he wrote or not - as did some of his erstwhile colleagues on Private Eye.

Anonymous said...

please delete the annoying Ireland. He's tedious and obsesses like an autistic child. Nobody cares whether Iain emailed lots of bloggers asking for a reciprocal link. Except him.

Please, please, get rid of him.

Guido 2.0 said...

Remittance Man:

1. Please do not assume or infer that Manic conducts himself in the manner of certain right-wing sock-puppets.

2. Your weblog started in June 2006. The link-begging spam that Manic recently uncovered was sent in January 2006. It is possible that this was Iain's only spampaign, and that you simply missed out because you did not launch soon enough to enjoy this level of attention.

Anonymous said...

"Yet *another* deliberate attempt from Iain to smear an opponent, ladies and gentlemen!"


Anonymous said...

That really was a cheeky fib to say you started your blog in March 2002 when you actually started it almost 2 years later...

Why lie about that?

Iain Dale said...

I did indeed start my blog in March 2002. However, Blogger somehow contrived to delete the whole thing so I had to start it again in 2003. I know it was March 2002 because I was in Washington and my friend Iain Murray set it up for me. I am sure he would be very happy to verify it for the conspiracy theorists who think I have got nothing better to do than lie about when I set up my blog.

Dear oh dear. Some people really do need to get a life.

peteblogging said...


Why won't you answer Tim Ireland? If you did, surely he'd go away...

Gracchi said...

I don't think that's true Iain at all. One of my favourite bloggers is Stumbling and Mumbling a leftwing economic blog. There are plenty of other good leftwing blogs out there too. I think there is a problem that blogging is dividing into separate universes so that people only read what they agree with and that means that each side doesn't take the time to understand the points on the other side. I do think though that there are good leftwing blogs out there.

One last point is that at the moment if you blog in the UK you attract attention through scoops about scandal- Guido is famous because of that or you attract readers by being very angry- Devils Kitchen and Mr Eugenides would be great examples. I suppose that the Tories in that sense have an advantage by being out of power and the left might get into that kind of blogging in a big way when they aren't governing any more.

And as for Bryan Appleyard- there has been good leftwing writing since Orwell- to name a couple Amartya Sen, Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, journalistically I often wonder whether anyone writes well today at all but Timothy Garton Ash on the Guardian writes with a lot of knowledge about the world for example.

Guido 2.0 said...

anonymous @ 2:31 PM:

That observation needs to be corrected.

Manic was wrong and foolish to base his statement on a published statement by Iain Dale.

The Wayback Machine reveals a secret archive going back to April 2002.

Iain Dale said...

Pete, experience has taught me that whenever you answer a question from him it just provokes a stream of others which he then DEMANDS you answer, as if he is somehow the regulatory authority for blogs. I am not answerable to him. I don't really care what he accuses me of because I no longer have any respect for him or his opinions. So he can drone on to his hearts content.

You have the makings of a very good blog, even if you do slag me off!

Anonymous said...

Tim Ireland talks a load of prolix *cough*

Guido 2.0 said...

Iain, experience has taught you nothing.

The responses you have (eventually) given in the past have been vague, partial and/or misleading, which is why they so often lead to a request that you actually answer the question!

And Manic does have the right to make certain demands of you when you continue to misrepresent his position (as you have done above) or smear him outright on your website.

PS - Iain, you only declared that you had no respect for Manic after he proved on a number occasions that you are totally unworthy of respect.

Anonymous said...

Bill Hicks on people who work in marketing and advertising:

"you are satan's spawn filling the world with bile and garbage"

Just planting seeds

Anonymous said...

But... but... but they're just so... boring!

Left-whingers take themselves far too seriously; there wouldn't be a single (intentional) joke and certainly not any of the semi-nude photos we get treated to occasionally on here and Guido's blog...

dizzy said...

Unfortunately I don't have time to wind Lassie up today, I have to get to my enjoyment of ... I'm actually a lesbian trapped in man's body you know.

Unsworth said...

I'm surprised that all this entirely off-topic spam is being allowed here. Many of these posts have sod all to do with the original. The personal invective is completely irrelevant. Give it a break, guys

donpaskini said...

I think the quality of thought and writing on, say, Stumbling and Mumbling, let's be sensible, Antonia's blog, the Virtual Stoa or Aaronovitch Watch (all left of centre blogs, at least three of which are definitely Labour) are at least as high as any any right-wing blog I have come across, and Provisional BBC is much wittier. If 2007 gives these a higher profile and more readers, then great.

Newmania said...

I can`t see why it would not . They do quite genuinely tend to be the worst sort of borings prigs but I think they enjoy these qualities.
Looking on you might think this looks less fun than being tested for chlamydia ( internal swab......aaaahhh) but its like watching lizards mate on Discovery.

Disgusting slimy and vile to behold , but you have to assume the Lizard gets something out of it.

Thus it will be be for the Labour Blogashere and what about a lIberal one as well. There are far to many of them around here.

kris said...

Guido 2

Good God man, have you no respect for yourself?!

BTW Dizzy, I knew it all along! :-)

Anonymous said...

Iain, why have you censored my comments?

I hardly think the word "tw*t" is too offensive to post on your blog in response to Tim Ire... sorry, "Mania", on your website.

You should allow us to be as rude to him as he is to everyone else.

Aaron Murin-Heath said...

Won't happen. The left hasn't been able to write effectively or well since Orwell and he seems increasingly right wing with the passage of time. ~ Bryan Appleyard


That a hoard of pissed off Tories congregate around a handful of blogs, does not prove that the left are unable to write. A poorly disguised fallacy.

Orwell increasingly leftwing? As Orwell has been dead a while, surely the commonsensical conclusion would be that the right have moved leftward?

Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

Iain, do you deny sending a bulk unsolicited email to boost the number of inbound links to your website?

Well, I have a bulk unsolicited email from Iain asking for a link. Two in fact. I was also added to an email list after appearing on 18DS although I don't remember being asked to sign up to a list. Not long after that I started getting spammed by Blue Shark or whatever they're called. I know other 18DS guests who were similarly spammed.

That said, the spam is a side issue. The main problem is that for all his internet bells and whistles Iain is the same stripe of politician Britain is fast coming to loathe - evasive, dismissive and disdainful of criticism, unable or unwilling to answer a straight question but only too willing to play the wounded 'poor me' card when put under the slightest pressure. It's the New Labour playbook given a blue coat of paint. So much for a new politics.

All this would have gone away if he'd been staightforward from the get-go and prevented his supporters (largely anonymous, the big brave things) from weighing in with smears, personal insults and misdirection in the comments. Classy.

Anonymous said...

On second thoughts, it may be an exaggeration to say that the left has no effective writers. There may be one or two, but they are heavily outnumbered by the dozens of "liberals" churning out the same old predictable journalism week after week, with never a fresh thought or a new idea in sight.

Most of their stuff runs on tramlines laid down in 1968 and could be written by a good computer program. I might write a program myself. It wouldn't take long. Garbage in, garbage out.

There is a prime example in the Grauniad today; Priyamvada Gopal writing about Toni Comer, the young mother who got blotto, vandalised someone's car, and had to be forcefully arrested. A bog standard left-wing rant, including the priceless phrase, "It remains difficult to imagine a petite middle class white woman being beaten like this."

jailhouselawyer said...

Chocks away...

Anonymous said...

Iain - when you update your "best of the blogs" book, can you invent some mindless category that you can pretend Tim Ireland has won? He's going to carry pestering you otherwise and it's getting in everyone's way.

Ian Appleby said...

William Norton, congratulations on suggesting a far simpler option than, say, Iain just answering the question.

If the Labour blogosphere is to adopt the same standards shown by some bloggers on the right, then the non-aligned among us are in for a dreary 2007.

Anonymous said...

They will probably make a mess of it, just like all their other IT projects.

Anonymous said...


The reason why some of Iain's supporters in this matter, including me, prefer to remain anonymous is that, to the inexpert but not incautious eye, this behaviour seems weird and borderline neurotic. The last thing in the world I would want is to be pursued so vexatiously myself over such a trivial matter. You would think Iain had committed a crime given the attention he has attracted from the guy.

Your assertion about Iain being "the same stripe of politician Britain is fast coming to loathe" is just plain ridiculous - he's got the most popular politician's blog in the country for god's sake.

What really made me worry about your post though is the implied notion that Iain should somehow prevent his supporters from weighing in in comments. If he is prepared to tolerate the bilge this guy is dredging up continuously, what on earth makes you think he'd be prepared to censor the sane voices telling the guy where to get off?

Anonymous said...

Iain - out of interest, if you're not answerable to another blogger, which is understandable, who are you answerable to?

I'm VERY interested in your answer, so please do answer. And no, I'm not a blogger.

Yours in anticipation:

Iain Dale said...

Carl, Well, I suppose I am answerable to my readers. If they don't like the way I behave or write then they have plenty of other blogs to visit. The fact that my traffic is increasing all the time would show, I hope, that people are satisfied with what they are being offered!

Ian Appleby said...

Anon at 8pm, your assertion that this may be the most popular politician's blog - I presume you're judging in terms of traffic? - doesn't answer Justin's accusation that Iain is behaving like many other politicians that, yes, we have come to loathe.

There was some hope that politicians who blog might manage to eschew the spin and evasion we see in their appearances in other media. Instead, 'the most popular politician's blog' is refusing to confront allegations of foul play head on, and there are plenty of - anonymous - commenters ready to attack anyone mentioning this. [To avoid allegations of sock-puppetry, I posted here at 6.33 under my first name.] Like it or not, and it does appear Iain has made great efforts to achieve the position of No.1 blogger,so I'm guessing he does like it, opinions on political blogs will be influenced by Iain's actions as a result of the position he occupies.

Iain, judging by your 8.41 comment, you seem to be in a mood for answering your commenters' questions. Unlike Carl, I am a blogger; I'm a member of Blogpower, many of whose members say great things about you. On the basis of this thread, however, as well as other well-documented developments, I am not sure just yet how much I share that opinion. If you could give a straight answer, even if you think it may put you in a bad light, I and am sure many others would have a great deal more respect for you, and you would have more claim to the moral high ground in your disagreements with other bloggers.

So, did you send that mail? Answer that question, and you'll go a long way to answering the other questions that have arisen.

Anonymous said...

See, here we go again. "weird and borderline neurotic". Smooth, Iain. Let the blogwars cease, eh?

Anyway, Anonymous @ 8.00pm, define 'most popular'. Yes, Technorati does indeed show it to be a popular blog. How much of the popularity extends from the content of the site and how much from Iain's assiduous harvesting of reciprocal links?

Most blogs live or die by the quality of their content not the exchange of cordial emails. Inbound links are no measure of quality when obtained via mutual backscratching.

As for Iain's commenters, the conclusion has to be drawn that he believes that personal abuse and smears are all part of the cut and thrust of debate. Most other blogs do not tolerate personal abuse amongst commenters. Of course, Iain's free to run his blog how he wants, I just wonder what it bodes for if he ever becomes an MP.

Iain holds himself up as a blogging exemplar but seems to fail to understand the fundamentals. I wonder how much of all this comes from an inability to admit mistakes through fear of undermining his self-styled status.

Of course, anonymous insults directed at Tim Ireland suit Iain's purpose. Don't address his easily answered questions let others paint him as mental. It's telling that the engagement Iain's had with me on this subject in the last few weeks has been via confidential emails (his not mine) rather than on public forums.

Anonymous said...

Ian Appleby

"I presume you're judging in terms of traffic? "

Is there another way to measure it?

"Iain is behaving like many other politicians that, yes, we have come to loathe."

Is that the same "we"=Britain that Justin claims, or the "we" lefty bloggers who hate right wing politicians, especially if they are more successful than we are?


Re weird and borderline neurotic - do you, honestly, not think that this behaviour is over the top? How would you characterise it? Proportionate?

You are quite right that blogs live or die by the quality of their content - let's see how Iain's goes , shall we?

"Most other blogs do not tolerate personal abuse amongst commenters."

I don't know where you get this information but I am fairly sure that Iain does not endorse individual views of commenters, even if he is quite liberal about what people say. I am even more sure that this so-called abuse will stop when this tedious attention-seeking behaviour does. How about it?

As I said, people will feel compelled to comment anonymously in order to avoid the sort of harrassment that has been on display here - a sad state of affairs. In life, if you don't get an answer to your incessant questions, I am afraid you have to go and get a life elsewhere, not just harp on about it endlessly, expecting people to treat you like a civilised adult.

Anonymous @8.

Ian Appleby said...

Anon@8, I see you read Justin's most recent comment, so that ought to have answered your first question to me. As for your second, I do like a false dichotomy. Are you yourself a great admirer of the Blair administration's approach to spin and evasion? Not that Blair et al are necessarily left-wing, but they have demonstrably been more successful, at least electorally, than the right-wing politicians our host numbers himself among.

It's hard for me to judge, but I think my contempt for Labour just about outweighs my contempt for the Tories, given that the former are, alas, in power.

Newmania said...

The fact that my traffic is increasing all the time would show, I hope, that people are satisfied with what they are being offered!

I notice that and it has been getting much better lately as well

Anonymous said...


Sorry, it's late and I might be getting confused. I am certainly getting confusing.

So, re-reading Justin, I understand him to be saying that Iain's blog only looks popular because he has been harvesting links. I am not sure how or what leads one to this conclusion. Are there other statistics to show that the site is not as popular as it seems? It seems to attract an awful lot of lefties...

I didn't mean you ("we") as politicians but bloggers. Iain, bless him, has certainly not been a very successful politician so far! I am sure his blogging will change things though. I take my hat off to you lot as politicans though: Iraq war, tuition fees, top-up fees, facing down the fire brigade unions, pulling the plug on Rover, introducing the Euro (did I get that last one right?)... what laurels, eh, and all without that dreadful Tory sleaze?

Anonymous said...

"Of course, anonymous insults directed at Tim Ireland suit Iain's purpose. Don't address his easily answered questions let others paint him as mental."

Surely when you were at school you knew at least one child who had a bee in his bonnet about something that nobody cared about? And by constantly going on about this issue, he just irritated people who really didn't care. Many of us come here to debate politics and constantly find ourselves having to put up with these constant posts on matters we consider to be trivial.

Anonymous said...

To Bryan Appleyard: I'm fascinated by the idea that Orwell seems "increasingly right wing". Could you explain that statement? What makes you think that, and do you have specific examples?

Anonymous said...

See? Allowing disgusting anonymous briefing and nowhere to be seen when there's questions to be answered. Classic, Iain. Like I said, it's New Labour painted blue. And it's also revolting.

Good luck with the political career. You'll fit right in.

Guido 2.0 said...

Iain, the way you conduct yourself at this website has a pronounced effect on the wider blogging community... but it's nothing to be proud of.

Currently, the most high-profile right-wing weblogs are run by anonymous bullies, or awash with them.

If you run a weblog that contains a significant level of political discussion, you really should have some form of comment registration in place or be ready to moderate your arse off. If you don't do either, you lay fertile ground for anonymous bullies who seek to limit free speech by undermining and intimidating those they don't agree with (while simultaneously screaming about their right to free speech... or moaning about being 'bullied' when someone stands up to them).

And it really doesn't matter if you're not personally creating sock-puppets, Iain; you make good use of them on your website to smear opponents and shield yourself from valid criticism, and this only encourages the ratbags.

In short, you are an irresponsible and selfish moderator... and the results are spilling out from this weblog and others like it at an alarming rate. (In other words, taking your advice and ignoring it will not make it any less of a problem.)

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has put their stamp of approval on it all; David Cameron and the bods at Head Office have even turned a blind eye to the Conservative activists who are anonymously smearing a political opponent by claiming that he is a paedophile. Would you be surprised to learn, Iain, that either or both of the individuals involved in this smear campaign are sock-puppetting regulars at the 'Guy Fawkes' website (and, like most anonymous bullies of that set, they are almost certainly sock-puppeting here as well)?

Recently you pledged to delete insulting entries without explanation, but this pledge means nothing when you only see an insult when a swear-word is used or valid criticism is levelled against you personally.

The most recent example: Dizzy's ongoing claim that his misadventure was part of a successful troll provides us with something quite illuminating; while he was bragging about using sock-puppets to actively bait other web users, you did nothing to discourage this kind of behaviour because the situation suited your purpose(s) at the time... as did the many entries kindly recommending suitable medication for one mental complaint or another (until a few minutes ago, the only such entries that were deleted by you were deleted because they had the word 'tw*t' in them).

Congratulations, by the way, to the anonymous contributor who dismisses all of this as a trivial matter.

(PS - 'Going on the record'... Iain, a closer examination of your early blogging via the Wayback Machine reveals that you made a few dozen entries over the space of 3 months and then abandoned your blog. Almost a year later, the blog was deleted for reasons unknown (technical hitch? housekeeping? an 'oops'?) and your blog stayed broken for close to 8 months after that before you finally re-emerged as "the Conservative Party's Parliamentary Candidate for the North Norfolk Constituency" at the same location. It is fair to say that you really did not begin blogging until Tuesday, December 16, 2003. This is worth mentioning purely because this statement of yours is potentially misleading: I did indeed start my blog in March 2002. However, Blogger somehow contrived to delete the whole thing so I had to start it again in 2003.)

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha.

I love the way Ireland and his ally(s) accuse people of being anonymous bullies, where Ireland himself is repetitively bullying Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes.

Newsflash to Mr. Ireland: Nobody gives a sh1t about what emails Iain sent out in January 2006.

Mr. Ireland, the way you conduct yourself with "Iain Dale is a liar" avatars and your series of vituperative obsessive attack blogs has a pronounced effect on the wider blogging community, and you really should be ashamed.

Your bizarre obsession with calling people 'sockpuppets' because they disagree with you also does not become you.

You criticise Iain and Guido for deleting comments, but with the same breath criticise them for not deleting comments from people who dislike your unwanted rants. If Iain were to delete anyone, it would be you. You don't seem to have grasped the fact that your obsession with spamming websites with offtopic attacks while wanting to be protected from criticism yourself is a contradictory position.

Guido 2.0 said...

anonymous 9:43 AM: Your arguments here are flawed even if one doesn't take into account your deliberate attempts to misrepresent the position of your opponent. Next.

Anonymous said...

guido 2.0: the essential point you have missed is that you are unwanted here. Go away. Pursue your vendettas elsewhere.

Guido 2.0 said...

anonymous @ 10:06 AM

There you go again.

However, you can be excused for deigning to speak on behalf of the majority... around here one person can *be* a majority all by themselves.

Anonymous said...

Come again, Timmy. Could you run that one by me again?

Ian Appleby said...

Anon at 8 and later, how can I make it any clearer that my dislike of politicians spinning and evading questions is applicable regardless of their party affiliation? I'm not posing these questions simply because Iain is a Conservative; I despair of ever getting an honest answer from the current government - "us lot", as you erroneously refer to them. I agree with you that they don't particularly have a track record to be proud of. It would be nice to think that politicians generally might learn from the public antipathy to spin, and you might think that a party in opposition would have a particular interest in doing so.

You say this site attracts a lot of lefties, and I'm guessing you'd apply that label to me. Well, although a fair number of the right-wing blogs I do frequent have had good things to say about Iain's blog, I'm not impressed by the standard of discussion I've seen so far. I'm not sure I'll be rushing back to follow any other threads.

If Iain genuinely wants to use his blog to engage with people with different views, and maybe hope to change their minds - dare I say it, to conduct serious and mature political debate - then maybe he might take note of some of the concerns that have been expressed, rather than just dismissing them. It is in his hands to help set the tone for political blogging across the spectrum. Iain, did you enter politics to make a difference?

If, on the other hand, he simply wants to preach to the choir, and be told how good he is (eh, Newmania?), and allow acolytes to jump all over dissenting voices, then steady as she goes, and never mind the knock-on effect on wider political blogging. (If you think it is a trivial matter, do you recognise any of the trends described in this article - translated here - discussing the debasement of online political debate in Russia?) And if that is all he wants, then he's wasted an awful lot of effort in sending out e-mails in order to become one of the more popular political blogs, however you choose to measure it. Come on Iain, however it was done, you have managed to attain an influential position; what do you hope to do with it now?

Guido 2.0 said...

Well. Said.

And an *excellent* link.

dizzy said...

Right, I am back from alt-shoes.lesbians.moderated and I must say I enjoyed it greatly. alt.binaries.fileinthegaps next I think.

Now.. has Lassie been saying anything new? *looks up* nope same old bollocks on repeat. I guess you really can't teach an old dog new tricks. Back to Usenet I go!

Guido 2.0 said...

We're actually waiting for an intelligent/forthright response from Iain right now, but thanks for your input, Dizzy.

Anonymous said...

Iain, could you let me know why you deleted my first comment? It's your blog, you can delete whatever you like of course, but it is customary (and polite) to explain the reasons for any deletions.

I certainly did not use any foul language, and while I may have made a (very) mild side-swipe at your blog, it was hardly the worst thing you'll have said about you today.

When you add the facility to comment on a blog, it is surely an invitation to do just that. Unexplained and unannounced deletions are contrary to that invitation and it should be no surprise that people assume any such action to be an indication that you deliberately pick and choose comments to better back up your position. A very dishonest practice indeed.

Iain Dale said...

Jim Bliss, As you are aware on this thread, a certain person tends to fly of the wall if anyone questions anything he says or does. Your post was in support of my stance but if recall correctly went too far in insulting him. I made it clear in my Comments Policy post last week that I reserved the right to delete such posts. I do not have to justify them. I thought it was OTT. I don't recall you saying anything especially bad about the blog, but I do recall other things you said which I thought were best deleted. This thread has got out of hand enough as it is.

And to other posters on this thread who keep asking the same question about this links email, it really is getting very boring. No one else gives a flying whatsit.

I have looked on Tim Ireland's site and he quotes three emails from me. They stem from January 2006 when I restarted the blog. One of them starts with the words Dear Tim. Hardly likely to be spam, then is it. Then there are two others with roughly the same message but which start with Hi, rather than a named greeting. I do recall emailing various bloggers at the time to tell them my blog had restarted and asking them to reinstate links to me or link for the first time in return for a link to my blog. Hardly a crime is it? Would it really matter if I sent 10 separate emails or 10 grouped together? It was over a year ago, for christ sake and if you expect me to remember I don't. Obviously some people keep their emails and sent items going back 10 years. Tim Ireland is one of them. Well bully for him. He obviously gains a lot of pleasure from them. No doubt the fact that I have written this will now send him into a further frenzy of activity. The trouble is , he doesn't realise that everyone else is bored by it. But if it keeps him from hassling Dizzy or Guido, I suppose I'm performing a public service.

Go Lassie!

PS And your info about my blogging activity is entirely false. I can't be held responsible for what is or is not on that archiving site, but my blog was relatively continuous from March 2002 through to about May 2003 - there was then a break for a couple of months.

Of course readers should know that Tim Ireland took a break from blogging in October 2005 and then decided to restart in mid January 2006. How did he try to attract back all those lost readers? By creating a ridiculous blog war with first Guido and then me.

Now dear reader. You judge for yourself. Which is worse - creating a needless blogwar which brings bad publicity on the entire blogosphere, or sending an email to ten bloggers suggesting reciprocal links?

And that, ladies and gentlemen is all I have to say on the matter.

Guido 2.0 said...

In this comment, Iain does the following:

Undermines his opponent.

Confirms that he doesn't care about any of the issues raised.

Claims that personalisation magically transforms an email from unsolicited to solicited.

Confirms a few facts with considerable downplay and self-justification.

Undermines his opponent. Again.

Insults his opponent (bouncing off the material of a confirmed sock-puppet when he does so).

Fails to understand that the Wayback machine visited his blog on a regular basis and detected no activity apart from deletion of data for well over a year.

Makes an entirely false and misleading statement about the intentions of his opponent.

Bases his closing 'argument' on this false premise that he has put forward.

Fails to realise that it is bad practrice that brings 'bad publicity' to the blogosphere.

Retires from the debate. Forever.

Anonymous said...

Whoa there, Iain. You've got me mixed up with someone else. I didn't insult Tim in any way... I merely questioned those who chose to insult him while remaining anonymous.

An anonymous poster called Tim's mental health into question, and I suggested that was hardly an appropriate thing to do under the cloak of anonymity.

I can completely understand deleting anonymous insults. But my post was not anonymous, and was not insulting.

Iain Dale said...

Jim, apologies if I got you mixed up with someone else. I remember deleting two comments on this thread as they were too insulting to our good friend Mr Ireland. Email me privately about yours. I genuinely don't recall it. The only thing I can think is that I deleted it as it referred to the post i already deleted from an anoymous poster and therefore yous didn't make sense without the context. I suspect that was it.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Iain. My post did indeed quote the anonymous commenter who you considered OTT. I do feel that deleting every comment that refers to an offending one is probably overkill, but I accept that (in this case at least) there was no sinister attempt to censor me specifically.

All the same, you must be aware that allowing anonymous comments places you at risk of appearing to employ political censorship even though you may be merely weeding out the wackos.

Ian Appleby said...

Iain wrote: And to other posters on this thread who keep asking the same question about this links email, it really is getting very boring. No one else gives a flying whatsit.

But you have addressed it now. Thank you. Was that really so hard? Granted, it may make it more awkward for you to accuse anyone else of spamming, but let that pass for now. Myself, I daren't speak for anyone else, but for me, the interest lay in the fact that your reluctance to confront this particular question left you open to the inferences Justin was making.

Also, it reflected in microcosm the wider questions about conduct in political blogging that are being raised (and amply demonstrated) on this thread and elsewhere. If we can put your animus against Tim to one side for a second (to be fair, it is probably mutual), does one of the leading British political bloggers really have nothing at all to say about those larger issues?

dizzy said...

I could hand Lassie his ass on a plate again but I can't be bothered. Instead I want to tell you all about the time a few years ago when I managed to get my website to the top of Google when people searched for "bestiality"... oh wait, that wasn't me, it was Lassie. Sorry, I got confused for a second there!

Iain Dale said...

Ian, I have no animus towards Tim. I just don't take him seriously any longer. On your last point, I have talked about these issues many times on this blog.

Ian Appleby said...

Iain, OK. I might have mentioned I'm not a regular visitor - would you mind pointing me in the direction of one or two posts of yours that cover these points?

Guido 2.0 said...

What Dizzy says @ 10:07 PM is true (if misleading). To find out more, read The Porn Report.

(looks forward to Iain's links)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I'm currently working on some hard numbers based on Google/Technorati and the blogs listed in Iain's Guide to Blogging from last autumn.



Ian Appleby said...

Iain, if you've blogged about these issues many times, it shouldn't take too long to scare up a link or two. I mean, it's not as though any big political events have happened today, is it?

Guido 2.0 said...

Come on, Iain. You brought it up... please back it up.

Ian Appleby said...

Lovely weather we're having...

Guido 2.0 said...

When you're ready, Iain. You brought it up, and you've been called on it. Back your claim with proof, please.

Anonymous said...

Christ, bloggers talking about themselves and how important they are. Don't you realise how boring you are? Nobody gives a toss about what one blogger thinks about another. You're all leeches on people who actually matter, you talk about them and you hitch a ride on their coattails. Talk about yourselves and you're heading for the internet's version of the scrapheap. Who ARE these people?!?

Ian Appleby said...

Iain, I'd be surprised if no-one has drawn it to your attention before, but your comments threads are full of anons and unlinked pseudonyms. I find it odd, therefore, that you should refer to me as "the person known as Mr Appleby", when a couple of clicks would have clearly revealed an independent online existence. I should bear in mind, though, that you have a condescending attitude towards research... (ibid.) I do hope you were not trying to insinuate anything, although I appreciate that in comments threads such as yours it can be hard to tell how many people are actually involved.

Ah yes, research. Well, searching your site for "anonymous" brings up 1000s of hits, largely connected to those same anonymous commenters. "Anonymous commenters", on the other hand, brings up 43. Is there anything relevant in there? The record is mixed. On the one hand, on February 6, you appeared to think comment moderation was a good idea, due to the amount of abusive posts. You did, incidentally, mention here that you would delete any comment that was offensive to other commenters... By March 14, you had decided to experiment with user registration. Nothing to quibble with, so far, indeed, there were a considerable number of apparently separate commenters applauding your decision. But, on March 16, as well as reiterating your promise to delete comments offensive to other users, you decided to end the experiment because, astoundingly, "it is putting people off commenting", never mind the fact that the abuse levels had gone down. So quantity outweighs quality, then?

That was as much as I could be bothered rooting around for (the life I won off Ebay should be here soon). Your Blogwars post only discusses two quite narrow areas: firstly, there are vague allusions to something the person known as Mr Staines, esq., (thanks for that formulation, by the way, I hope you don't mind me borrowing it) appears to have done in his student years, whereas the real story there was his recourse to legal threats. You then moved onto whether or not you used, or even understood, the word nihilist. Nothing about the use and abuse of anonymous comments, the value of clear time-stamps on comments, or the dangers of sock-puppetry. Still less on how this could easily lead to a deterioration in online political discussion.

Iain, your responses to my comments have seemed extremely defensive. I have read what Tim has had to say, and found he made a convincing case. I also came across an article describing similar events in Russia, which appeared to show that Tim's fears were not without foundation, even if such tactics were not actually being used by yourself or the person known as Mr Staines, esq. So I came to you, interested in hearing your side of the case; all you can tell me, though, is that you have addressed these matters many times, but you don't supply research facilities. Thank you for your hospitality. Between your responses, those of your commenters, and your site's search facility, I have the answers I was looking for. Of course, if I have missed anything, please do let me know.

By the way, you don't have any connection to this triumph of satire, do you? Its author is no good at providing links, either.

Iain Dale said...

Ian, I get two or three hundred comments on here every day. I cannot act as a research facility. I answered your points to the best of my ability. I even then added a search facility for people to look at previous posts.

If you really think Tim Ireland has a convincing case then God help us all.

And I can assure you that I have nothing to do with any spoof blogs. It's as much as I can do to keep this one up to date without creating joke blogs.

Guido 2.0 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ian Appleby said...

Iain, I'm not asking you to write my thesis for me, so talk of research facilities is perhaps a little overdone. You said you'd discussed these matters. I don't think it was too unreasonable of me to have inferred that you might have had a few particular posts in mind, and that you might be able to direct me towards them - if it exists elsewhere, by all means point to it rather than repeat it.

It's interesting what Tim has to say about search facilities (as is the fact that he substantiates his assertion). I had a feeling that I had tried searching your archives, but couldn't find the means to do so. Of course, if you were to enable dates on comments as well as times, I could have been surer.

You don't, "God help us all", refute Tim's case simply by - apparently - refusing to address it, and I'm sure that the best of your abilities to respond to my points is not limited to simply asserting that they have already been answered.

I'd be happy to accept that you have discussed these matters, but I'm blowed if I can find the relevant posts through searching your site. Some might say that you are being a little evasive; certainly, I am now more interested than ever in reading your side of the story. So, please, which posts of yours should I be looking at?

Ian Appleby said...

Thanks for switching on date-stamps, Iain. Did you happen to notice any relevant posts when you were looking at your dashboard?

Guido 2.0 said...

Iain, the most recent comment of Manic's that you deleted from this thread as follows. He challenges you to prove that it is in any way off-topic, given that you brought up the points he addresses:

I answered your points to the best of my ability.

What you mean to say is that you made a claim that you refused to back up.

I even then added a search facility for people to look at previous posts.

Tell the truth and shame the devil, Iain... you were cornered into doing this.

Now... to repeat:

You made the claim... it is up to you to back it up. So back it up or withdraw the claim.

PS - You have also avoided addressing any of the fresh points raised by Mr Appleby.

Iain Dale said...

I added a search facility because Matt Wardman encouraged me to. I didn't know Google had the facility to do this and whem I was looking into adding the AdSense bar I found the search box too. So much for your conspiracy theories.

I also added dated timestamps once I located them in the Blogger Settings. Had I discovered them earlier I would have added them earlier.

Now if you tell me how to add these Comment permalink things that you keep referring to I will happily do so.

As for the rest of your comment... oh, I really can't be bothered with you. There, is that enough material for you to spend another two hours slagging me off on your blog. I do hope so. At least it'll keep you out of other mischief.

Guido 2.0 said...

Paragraph #1: You have confirmed the cause and effect; theory does not come into it. And from now on, when you are introduced in the MSM as a blogging expert, Manic expects you to correct your host(s).

Paragraph #2: From now on, when you are introduced in the MSM as a blogging expert, Manic expects you to correct your host(s).

Paragraph #3: Manic has already told you. Oh, and from now on, when you are introduced in the MSM as a blogging expert, Manic expects you to correct your host(s).

Paragraph #4: Does not surprise Manic at all. You brought it up, therefore it is up to you to back it up. Manic wonders why you have evaded this challenge again and again and again and...

Guido 2.0 said...

When you're good and ready, Iain. I grow tired of your stalling tactics.