Criticism, even robust and persistent criticism, of those who put themselves out there in the public gaze can never be a bad thing; we should be prepared to hold those people to account, whether they are politicians, pundits, journalists, experts, sports personalities or Slebs. What is not a good thing is when persistent criticism spills over into obsessive pursuit for its own sake, when it ceased to be objective and becomes creepy.
And when it becomes creepy, one group of individuals out there on the right know exactly what that means: step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Whenever Staines gets irritated by criticism, he reaches for the S-word, as he did with Fran Singh of the Guardian: “Am on a pub crawl @fransingh get a job and stop stalking”. Stalking. It’s A Very Bad Thing. The Great Guido says so.
He said so to Lib Dem stalwart Olly Grender: “Oh please. You tweet at me quite a lot, trading banter and insults. Are you stalking me?” And he suggested to Declan Ganley that he had indeed had at least one real stalker: “You're nobody until you have an online stalker”. He even claimed others were using the term when they weren’t.
So it was that when Owen Jones observed “My obsessed fan @guidofawkes attacking me for remembering 1916 Easter Rising. Look forward to him attacking the Queen”, Staines inserted the S-word of his own free will: “Yawn, standard OJ rebuttal tweet #7 ‘Obsessed’, ‘Stalker’ etc. You're like Kim Kardashian complaining about paparazzi”.
But he didn’t like being called out for it himself, as independent MP John Woodcock did. “For the record, and to allay your paranoia. When you accused me of stalking you, I was in bed, at home, in Ireland”. No, Staines was far more comfortable accusing others of doing it: “Jessica why do you follow us so closely? You are like one of those fans who turns into a stalker, always quibbling. You must have a lot of spare unbilled time”.
Well, The Great Man is going to have to swallow it up once more, because as he did with Woodcock (over Woodcock’s partner Isabel Hardman), he’s been caught bang to rights stalking once more, whether it’s him personally, or his gofers on his behalf.
OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
And now it's getting gratuitous and creepy
This time, Staines’ obsession concerns Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer: only last month Zelo Street called out The Great Guido over another sneering, dismissive, and indeed dishonest attack on her. It was not the last: only six days ago, in a post attacking what the Fawkes massive called a “Loony Remoaner Lawsuit”, they included her photo, even though she had no connection with the story. That’s the real giveaway.
So when the Fawkes rabble once more laid into Ms Cadwalladr yesterday for the heinous crime of commenting on the leaking of the US Ambassador’s cables, she called time on the stalking. “Colleagues in British media, can I ask a q? Below latest from Guido. It’s pathetic but also relentless. What do you make of it? I find it sexist & creepy & given links to Johnson/Farage/Banks disquieting. Is it acceptable because I’m somehow seen as ‘asking for it’? Is that it?” She is right to ask that. Because acceptable it is not.
Paul Staines and his pals have allowed their obsession with Ms Cadwalladr to spill over into creepiness and stalking. That must be what it is, because they said so.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at