Monday, May 28, 2012

Social Suicide

I've said before that politicians, local and national should be very careful about what they write on Facebook and Twitter and Labour's unreconstructed Marxist, Mike Harrison, should be more careful than most, as he has an unfortunate habit of attracting Standards Complaints as did the former Cllr Mark Nottingham, before he was deselected in favour of Cllr Ian Driver.

This time however, Mike, on his Facebook page,  less than charitably, regards one of our Independent councillors and a former Labour colleague as a 'Shirt-lifting gender bender.' It's the kind of loose remark that may not be able to dodge the bullet of public opinion and press interest, given the growing outrage caused by the Facebook conversation thread pictured.

Mike, who most recently branded Thanet's Conservative Group "one of the most homophobic in the country," insists on his blog: "I suspect my account has been hacked or got into some other way and some pretty unpleasant remarks have been inserted into a conversation I was having with a friend."

He continues: "I strongly suspect that this is yet another sordid and petty act by a certain political parties dirty tricks department to discredit opponents in a desperate attempt to regain control of Thanet Council."

I guess he means me in that last paragraph and as I'm in the information security business, I don't regard it as impossible that a Facebook account can be hacked. This happens with monotonous regularity and more recently I helped a member of the Government get his account back with a quick email to a friend in the company. It's far more usual that Facebook accounts are the subject of what we call 'SpearPhishing'; i.e. a high-profile account is hacked by organised crime groups or intelligence agencies for a specific purpose. So Mike Harrison should, in addition to his personal sense of outrage, be mildly flattered that he's the subject of such an unusual effort to access his account. I recommend he contacts the police and I can give him a direct number if required to the Head of Unit.

I understand that the BBC, instead of asking my opinion, are seeking independent comment, which leads me on to the loose connection with last week's story.

Unlike Cllr Worrow, in last weeks' widely reported Minnis Bay of 'Ugly Pigs' debacle, Mike, may struggle to use the same 'Mysterious Mr Fox' defence, of some other character as the author and I really would urge everyone, particularly in public life, to be very wary of social media and the friends and topics they engage in online conversations.

Conservative Shadow Council Leader, Bob Bayford, has written the following letter to Labour Council Leader, Clive Hart:

"It has been brought to my attention that Cllr Mike Harrison has used offensive, homophobic language about a fellow councillor on a public forum, a copy of which is attached. This is clearly a gross breach of both Council and Labour Party codes of conduct.

It is totally outrageous language and behaviour from a councillor and brings the Council into disrepute. As you know, Cllr Harrison is already the subject of a Standards complaint for offensive comments about women which you chose to ignore. Given your public statement during a recent debate that "it's certainly what I stood for as a Labour Councillor - equality...It's at the core belief of the Labour Party - equality"

I am sure you will want to take immediate and decisive action to demonstrate your commitment to equality issues and acceptable standards of behaviour. This is of considerable public interest, therefore I would appreciate a swift response, outlining your proposed course of action."


Anonymous said...

I can't remember the last time I read anything of any consequence on councillor's blogs that seemed to be addressing the issues that affect Thanet today. The time that appears to be spent toeing the party line and discrediting one another while systematically avoiding addressing pertinent issues is truly depressing. Regardless of the importance of the issues raised here you can feel the glee coming out the screen at yet another opportunity to get some mileage out of a situation which serves as another distraction from coming up with some researched, intelligent solutions to issues that we're all currently experiencing. Please sort yourselves out.

simon moores said...

Just because the blog happens to belong to a councilor doesn't mean that local political issues will always figure in the way you might wish. In fact, simply being a councillor makes such debate quite difficult because of the need to manage expectations.

In this example, I'm simply reporting the news, which I'm sure you will see elsewhere.

I should add that once I dwell on local issues as described, my readership invariably falls off a cliff through simple apathy!

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the Diversity Champion hasn't done anything about this. Don't tell me he isn't aware as he looks at every blog and face book site he can. Come on "Cllr" Worrow lets see if you have the guts as you haven't got any of the "other!"

Anonymous said...

I personally wouldn't have called this 'news'.

simon moores said...

Well, the BBC seem t think it is, so who am I to judge!

Anonymous said...

Presumably Cllr Harrison will be reporting the hacking to the police.

Michael Child said...

Simon I don’t quite understand this one as I can’t find any of this cached, is the image of a screenshot, or is the image a scan of a printout? I also noticed the dates are quite old and it appears that the removal of the offending comment was old too, by that I mean this all appears to have happened and been removed over three weeks ago, am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

What you are missing, Michael, is that it was reported by the BBC last night. That, I would suggest, makes it relevant.

Certainly, because of the recent hysteria coming from Labour and TIG councillors about homophobia, it is something your beloved party need to address if they are to retain any shred of honour.

As an aside, I just love your red herrings and diversionary tactics in support of your party.

Anonymous said...

FAO Michael Child the dates on the screen shot are from early May and they were taken down in haste yesterday after the story broke.

Michael Child said...

Thanks Tom and 11.28, now the Conservative group have joined the blog wardens I just wanted to check the detail, which I have now done, strange no one noticed it before, I hardly ever use Facebook although I have an account which acts as a repeater station for my blog.

I guess as councillors being rude about councillors of the opposing parties goes with the job, we are in for some interesting and possibly expensive times.

Anonymous said...

Still think you are missing the point, Michael. The comments, allegedly made by Mike Harrison, are about Ian Driver and it is he who has made the complaint. Knowing his love of publicity, it was also probably him that went to the BBC.

The Conservatives, who you label blog wardens, have followed correct procedure and communicated via their group leader to his Labour counterpart. Hardly surprising considering the stick and homophobe jibes they suffered over their opposition to the equal marriage debate.

The Diversity Champion and Blog Warden, not slow to report Tory infringements, is Cllr Worrow, but he seems to have disappeared this time. Mind you, he may think Cllr Driver is big and ugly enough to fight his own battles. Who knows because he can, like his blog agent, be rather elusive when he wants.

Michael Child said...

Far from it Tom, I think the problem here is more one of you missing the point and assuming that I am some sort of supporter of the Left Right or even TIG.

Yes without doubt I support anything that will help Ramsgate and the rest of Thanet and yes I have a considerable gripe about the way Ramsgate has suffered under the last eight years of what is described as Concretive control at TDC.

In general I think the Labour group haven’t been at governing long enough to criticise them too much and there has been some improvement on the council owned asset situation in Ramsgate since they gained control.

What I would like to see from the Conservative group is a much better attempt at being a viable opposition, I guess I would like to be able to discuss the important Ramsgate issues with them and frankly when it comes to Pleasurama, Pavillion, Harbour Lights Café, and so on, they don’t seem to want to know.

Although I am supportive of many of the wider Thanet issues I understand them far less well. Working in a shop in Ramsgate the Ramsgate issues I get asked about every day.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, Michael, but just your usual evasion of issues. We are simply talking here about you trying to divert attention from what is clearly an embarrassment to the Thanet Labour group.

I have heard all your claims about what you are trying to get the Conservatives to do, but they simply do not wash. The Conservative group, containing several far more experienced local and county level politicians than you, are more than capable of forming their own opposition plan.

All you are about is trumpetting Labour's successes and trying to hide their failures and indiscretions. End of....

Ian Driver said...

For the record it was the Conservative Party who alerted me to the posts purported to be from Harrison and I did not appraoch the BBC they approached me

Michael Child said...

Tom I think what we are talking about here is the politics of embarrassment, which may work at a national level to some extent, is neither appropriate nor constructive at district level.

Ian I wondered how it had happened, particularly as looking at it from a technical computing point of view the whole thread seems to have been there from 3rd May until very recently.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I know quite well what I am talking about and exactly where I stand in the political spectrum. If only you would be so honest with yourself instead of this constant masquerade about having no left or right bias.

On the current thread I must admit to some sympathy with Mike Harrison for he is a down to earth sort of chap who tends to still call a spade, a spade. Unfortunately, in today's miserable world, that carries its consequences and every perceived indiscretion is heralded by ones opponents. Nothing you or I can do about it