Once upon a time, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog could at least be counted on for a little entertainment value, and to at least try and caveat the nudge-and-wink that filled their posts. But after they got away with peddling the obsession that suggested Gordon Brown was dependant on a cocktail of prescription medication to keep him going - never proven - the viciousness has just ramped up.
Getting away with it - again and again
And unlike those of us who make the occasional honest mistake, the Fawkes massive does not care who it smears. There is the knowledge not only that they reach parts that we with a more modest audience cannot, but that their pals in our free and fearless press are on hand to amplify anything that they manage to get away with.
Guess who's on the receiving end (again)?
All the while, there is the asymmetric attitude to legal redress: as Zelo Street regulars will know, Staines claims not to take any notice of legal threats and attempts to prevent him from publishing what he wishes, but has no compunction in making those threats himself.
Another site taking The Great Guido on trust
Which brings us to a post that The Great Guido published yesterday, before some time later deleting it, perhaps hoping that not too many people had noticed. This was a totally unfounded attack on Labour MP Rebecca Long Bailey, which the Fawkes Twitter feed advertised as “Long Bailey’s Multi-Millionaire Other Half of the Story”, with the claim in bold, and indeed capitals, of “LONG BAILEY’S WEALTH PORKIES”.
The contention was that RLB’s husband Steve Bailey was far more well-off than was conceded. But he wasn’t. The post went on to claim “While individually she may not be a millionaire, she is married to Steven Bailey, a director of Barrettine Holdings. The Bailey family are the majority shareholders of the highly profitable chemical manufacturer which turned over £22 million last year, with the Bailey’s shares worth millions”. Not true.
Other sites and aggregators had taken the Fawkes rabble on trust - hence it can still be found. Meanwhile, though, RLB responded “so funny, clearly I married the wrong Steve Bailey instead of my Steve who isn’t director of this company or heir [to a] multi million pound family fortune. Tripped up there didn’t I”. What say The Great Guido?
“Apologies, we screwed up. We got the wrong Bailey. Two Steve Bailey's working in the chemical industry. A lesson to us to never follow up leads from Wikipedia”. Leads from Wikipedia? They’re supposed to be journalists, or rather, they claim to be. The fact of the matter is that they set off to damage Ms Long Bailey, saw something that was too good to be true, and it proved to indeed be too good to be true.
And all the while, they are lecturing others on standards, as witness Big Innovation Centre telling followers last year “At our popular Fringe, [Tom Harwood] of [Guido Fawkes]: Tech companies could take a better step to better society by tackling the issue of #FakeNews dissemination and consumption”. Someone standing in a very draughty glasshouse.
Yet RLB, and indeed all Rotten Lefties™, are expected to just take it on the chin, no matter how vicious and deliberate the smears get. Meanwhile, those attacking left-leaning sites are only too happy to call in the lawyers to extract apologies - and of course money.
Thus the asymmetric nature of online political discourse. I’ll just leave that one there.
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