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Wednesday 3 February 2016

Smear Of Labour Veteran Busted

The 2014 Labour Party Conference was brought to its feet not once, but twice, by a 91-year-old World War 2 veteran called Harry Leslie Smith. He is one of the dwindling band who experienced life before the NHS and the rest of the post-war settlement, brought up in abject poverty in a family that had to watch one of their children die from tuberculosis. They could do nothing about it; they could not afford medical treatment.
Harry Leslie Smith - a genuine hero

Smith’s passionate defence of Labour’s legacy - and mark that well, it is Labour’s legacy, opposed all the way by the post-war Tory Party, to the exasperation of the NHS’ creator Aneurin Bevan - frightened the living daylights out of the sneering, cat-calling and overmonied inhabitants of right-wing websites and their friends in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate. Here was an advocate of the NHS they couldn’t touch.

So it became a sort of Holy Grail for those out there on the right to find a way to go after HLS. It got worse for them: he was also adept enough with new technology to have a presence on social media, with his Twitter feed attracting 63,000 followers right now. But out there on the right, someone had volunteered to scrape the barrel and publish a hatchet job on HLS. Zelo Street can now reveal the identity of the culprit.

To no surprise at all, as I predicted only the other day, after the Murdoch press cancelled their regular Sunday column, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog are desperate enough, and have sufficient time on their hands, to go after anyone whose political stance incurs their displeasure. The Great Guido has delegated the task to newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham.
Alex Wickham - a genuine sleazebag

Icon Books, who have published HLS’ work, have received an email telling them “I am writing a story for Guido Fawkes about the Twitter account of one of your authors, Harry Leslie Smith: @Harryslaststand … Is it correct that an employee of Icon Books has access to this account and sometimes tweets on his behalf? … Please could I have a comment from a spokesman on Icon Books' involvement in this account?

The email was signed off “Thanks. Alex Wickham”.

Hypocrisy, much? The Fawkes rabble has nothing more on HLS than to whine about his Twitter account? The Fawkes rabble which has more than one Twitter account which is used by more than one of that same rabble? The Great Guido is once again standing in a very draughty glasshouse. And this time he’s been rumbled.

You’re bang to rights, lads. High principles never were a Fawkes strong point.

Knowing the modus operandi of Wickham, and his only tenuous relationship with those pesky things called facts, one can only marvel in advance at the scale of the hit job he has planned. What is certain is that it will be the same as all the other right-wing hatchet jobs: picking at the smallest detail, then holding it up and proclaiming that everything else their target says must be wrong. It worked so well for them on all the other subjects. Or not.

The Fawkes rabble just cannot get into their heads that HLS is entitled to his say. Nor can they resist the temptation to leap from gutter to sewer to do their deed. Sad, really.


Anonymous said...


Nothing remotely "sad" about it.

It's far right evil and should be labelled as such.

Martin said...

Hi, I'm not a Tory shill or anything, but many authors and celebs have people contribute tweets to their accounts (Dawkins for example). Having looked at Harry's account as a generally sceptical person I have to say that I'm very curious about it too, between the language, the historical inaccuracies, the rate of tweeting from a guy who says he needs a magnifying glass to read, and the time zone discrepancies.

Of course I could be barking up the wrong tree, but it's not an entirely unreasonable question to ask. While I don't always agree (and sometimes disagree vehemently) with Guido and his minion, what Wickham did is entirely correct, proper and good journalism - hearing a rumour, and checking with the publisher rather than simply repeating or denying it on impulse. I'm confused as to why sending a polite e-mail to a publisher is such an egregious act in your opinion.

One might also go further and ask why such a routine inquiry ended up being shared with Tim Fenton, but I'll leave that for others.

Anonymous said...

Wickham and Staines are both screwed.

Deep down, they know!

He he!

Tim Fenton said...


You're not a Tory shill, BUT.

I think I got that one, thanks.

Anonymous said...

It really isn't just right wingers that question whether he actually writes all the content on his twitter feed. For instance, I was surprised the read that someone apparently based in Canada spends a lot of his time commenting on TV shows that were on at that exact moment. At the very least, unless he's gone to the effort of setting up a proxy, he should be IP blocked anyway.

So yeah, there are valid questions.

Martin said...

Re: Anonymous, Well quite. In fact within my sphere, most of the questioning of the account I've seen has been from friends on the left. I don't think you can dismiss them just because some people on the right have the same criticisms, and in any case Wickham hasn't done anything wrong. E-mailing someone privately to fact check a rumour is normal responsible journalism. I'm also a bit nonplussed by Tim's response here - are we really going to get into a realm where anyone who disagrees with the author of the blog is a Tory? Seriously?

Tim Fenton said...


Nobody called anyone a Tory. It was left to your imagination. You did the rest.

I take it you are OK with 92 year olds being subjected to politically motivated hatchet jobs BTW. Some folks seem not to have noticed that.

Anonymous said...

Tim - I rate your stuff highly in the main, but Martin's right - this is a poor piece. Guido & co are vile, but the question was a fair one. I'm sure it would be very likely be followed by a hatchet piece, but this enquiry wasn't it. I _can_ however see a lot of hatchetry going on: in your post! 'Teaboy', 'perpetually thirsty', 'rabble'. You're generally better than this sort of ad hom. If you're having to resort to it, time to take a step back and reacquaint yourself with your values.

yrs, a leftish sceptic

Anonymous said...

In what way is a request for information a 'hatchet job'? And as per my previous comment, there ARE questions. you simply refuse to consider them valid because he's 'one of us', as it were. Your judgement is clouded, and that's more than apparent by your choice of tagging for the piece. 'ageism' for instance - the poor little old man needs help defending himself from the baddies. I would have thought he's more than capable for standing up for himself.

That's if he's not watching Panorama over unblock-us.

Tristan said...

"I take it you are OK with 92 year olds being subjected to politically motivated hatchet jobs BTW." - Well hang on a minute. If this story is indeed true (and there's a good chance it isn't actually HLS posting) then "I take it you are OK with 92 year olds being used to push other people's agendas without their knowledge"?

We don't know whether that's what's happening, but there are reasons to think it might be. Certainly worth looking into and trying to actually verify.

And a number of people asking these questions are of the left (as am I).

Tim Fenton said...

@8 @9

The lack of self-awareness is staggering, as is the "look over there at what you are doing".

Going after a frail 92 year old over something as trivial as Twitter authorship is desperate, and yes, it is a hatchet job.

But good to see so many anonymous posters want to give me advice.

Tim Fenton said...


Why is it "worth looking in to"?

Seriously, why?


Anonymous said...

Attacking Harry Smith is par for the far right necon course. As is the FACT that the tories fought tooth and nail against the formation of the NHS - voted against it on over fifty separate occasions. Just as they voted against every piece of humanist legislation that sought social progress - they are now busily engaged in trying to repeal everything that once made for a decent society. Incredibly, this includes human rights and fair employment practices.

Now the two-faced hypocritical Bullingdon pig's head boy and his shill, the moronic spiv Jeremy Hunt, are salami slicing the NHS to the profiteering thieves in Canary Wharf. What else do you expect from a gang that includes gobshites like Treezer May, Grayling, IDS, the hissing lizard Hamilton, Bullingdon Georgy Boy and that dead faced clown Mathew Hancock?

As for Wickham: He has nothing to do with good journalism, but everything to do with tenth rate far right propaganda.

There isn't a one of them worth a thousandth part of Harry Smith's big toenail.

http://www.thesocialshuttle.com/ said...

Well Harry has written an excellent piece in a newspaper today defending the NHS and I do not see that it is a legitimate question. You may as well ask Harry if he ever robbed a bank or fiddled his taxes. It's called a fishing expedition.
And I follow his twitter feed and there is nothing difficult about it- just plain old common sense you would expect from a chap like Harry.
Remember he has also written a book.
Why should he be questioned about things just because of his age? It's like Elder Abuse but I think the Tories may be good at that.

Anonymous said...

Some strange anonymous and new comments and commenters to this story......makes one wonder where they originate from and whether a nerve has been touched??

pj13 said...

I think some of the commenters above might have missed the point of Tim's post

1. It ill behoves Wickham, adept at switching various anonymised accounts (let alone posing as female Tory activists in a sexting trap) to complain if Harry's account is manned by assistants or publishers.

2. This perfectly normal practice (can you type in this for me) is used by many celebrities and politicians. They are authors of their accounts, even if others type the words. Harry has said this many times.

3. Given both of those above, and the way this issue is used by clear cut political enemies to discredit the content of Harry's posts, this looks like a smear job nipped in the bud

Unknown said...

Not sure what any of this has to do with HLS' age.

Unknown said...

Wickham, Guido etc, not just sad, pathetic.

Also as we say up North "clearly got nowt better to do".

You definitely touched a nerve Tim..... all those anonymous comments straightaway. Hopefully (as pj13 said above)you HAVE succeeded in nipping this nasty little smear job in the bud.

Anonymous said...

Guess what, simpletons? Alex has just posted his smear. All Tim was doing was trying to stop him. I hope you're pleased!

Jonathan said...

Actually his account is run by his son Max the Twit that started people was one that claimed the Czechs had collaborated with the Nazis. Now Harry is a war veteran he was around at the time he must have known that the Czechs didn't willingly collaborate with the Nazis they were sold out. Now funnily enough Tim doesn't mention this he also doesn't mention that others have started to question this those who have meet and seen him speak.

pj13 said...


Actually, that's tosh

Harry says: "I put on my own trousers, cook my own tea, drive my own car, do my own taxes and also my own tweets. "

One faulty tweet does not a spring make.

Uninformed smear campaign really does not need any more enabling

Libby said...

it's not particulalry suspicious that someone who needs to read with a magnifying glass can tweet. A lot of visually impaired people have taken to social media like ducks to water.

ashie said...

Dear Anonymous @ 11:35 (8).

You've never read Tim before, have you? If you had, you would know that 'Teaboy', 'perpetually thirsty' and 'rabble' are used in any story about Fawkes. That has been the case for a very long time.

So what brought you here today?

Yrs an even more sceptical leftie.

Anonymous said...

It's quite staggering how many people forget how much of a pussy Alex Wickham is, you don't need to be Brooks Newmark to work that out!

Gabriel Wolff said...

You are a Tory shill and your bullshit blog does not exist.

Anonymous said...

James Bloodworth (from the anti-Corbyn wing of the Guardian) has also been going for HLS on twitter (@j_bloodworth). Unpleasant stuff.

Anonymous said...

No-one seemed to mind when some of Commander Chris Hadfield's tweets were sent on his behalf by his son, so I'm not sure why Guido thought this was a story worth following. All it's done is give people like Louise Mensch something they see as justification for a social media dog-piling of Harry's accounts.

anubeon said...

Funny how somebody who usually 'rates [Tim's] stuff highly' seems utterly unaware of this blogs long established, if suitably cynical, house style when it comes to the Guido boys and the other slimeballs of Fleet Street and Westminster-upon-Bubble.

Well, I say 'funny'… :-\

anubeon said...

So a) there were precisely zero Czech collaborators and the Nazis presumably failed to establish a 'friendly' puppet state, and b) no person who lived through that period and/or thought in the war can ever, EVER be ignorant of any of the details of the occupation of Europe. Was Harry ever stationed in the Czech territories during or immediately after the war?