This is, quite frankly, staggering:
Via the UK Daily Pundit (who, oddly, seems to approve of this) I see that Owen Barder has been attacked in The Daily Mail . You might note that Owen’s blog is now down, which is probably sensible given the shit-storm that is about to descend but it’s also true that it makes pointing out what’s really going on here a little difficult.
So, what does the Mail say that Owen has done which is so heinous?
A former aide to Tony Blair has posted on his website an attack on the Prime Minister which compares President George Bush to Hitler.
Really, has he?
The attack, which has shocked Whitehall, appears on the outspoken, sexually explicit, website blog of £100,000-a-year civil servant Owen Barder.
Sexually explicit? I’ve been a regular reader there for some time and really not noticed all that much smut or anything close to it.
It features comments and links on a range of subjects from his opposition to the Iraq War to whether marathon running makes men better in bed.
Margaret Thatcher is described as ‘pernicious,’ while ex-Labour leader Neil Kinnock is praised for making ‘one of the finest speeches in British politics’.
Outpoken? Sexually Explicit? Owen Barder ???
Hang on, are we talking about the same Owen Barder who writes mostly low-key stuff about international development?
That Owen Barder? Nahh, fuck off…
Tim Worstall has the full run down, but what this amounts to is the Daily Mail dredging through two years of Owen’s material, almost all written while he was on an unpaid sabbatical from the Civil Service, and then using a few carefully selected comments, taken out of context, as the basis for a hatchet job full of gross distortions and misrepresentations to try and fuck him over.
To find a Daily Mail hack behaving like a complete arsehole is hardly news, and while Owen has sensibly taken his blog offline, I do have a slight quibble over Tim’s reference to the likelihood of a shitstorm being about to descend – having been on the receiving end of the Mail’s attentions over the Cameron ‘Mammy’ image, their capacity to generate a shitstorm amounted to all of a dozen hits, tops, so Slashdot they ain’t, there is a wider principle at stake, as Tim notes:
Which is really something that all of us other bloggers might want to start thinking about. If they hound Owen out of his job on the basis of the above farrago and tissue of innuendo and misquotation then that’s rather going to be the end of this enjoyable pastime for most of us, isn’t it? Anyone writing tens of thousands of words over the years is open to such an assassination of the character.
What does piss me off rather more, here, is UK Daily Pundit’s willingness to join the Mail’s hyperventilated half-wittery and add his own piss-poor spin on top:
I blogged about Labour supporter, Owen Barder, back in October last year (Labour blogger gets top civil service job) when he was still listed as a contributor to the Bloggers4Labour aggregator. At the time he’d just been appointed as the new Director of Global Development Effectiveness at the Department for International Development on a salary of 100k.
Needless to say I wasn’t best pleased with yet another example of Labour cronyism. However, in a small victory for transparency, I’m pleased to say the Labour toady removed his feed from the Bloggers4Labour site shortly after my post.
For the record, the job Owen got, as Director of Global Development Effectiveness at the DFID, is a non-political appointment, which means that recruitment would have been through the usual Civil Service channels and procedures and subject to all the usual procedural checks and balances, as Owen acknowledged at the time by noting that:
“This is likely to mean that I’ll have to change how I blog.“
As Tim’s gone to some lengths to point out, nothing that Owen has done has brought the civil service into disrepute, all he’s actually done is use a blog to express personal opinions during a period in which he was a private citizen.
What else can I add – Tim’s spot on in his comments, and UK Daily Pundit has proved himself to be a prize cunt and scumbag of the highest order.
Oh, I should point out that G**gle’s recent efforts to limit the use of Googlejuicing and G-bombs has only removed some of the more well known examples of the latter and made it a bit more difficult for new sites/bloggers to play. If your blog has been around for a while (more than three months), the G-bomb still works a treat – try doing a search on Google UK for ‘Dr Demento’ and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
7 thoughts on “I’m Spartacus”
Yes, the UK Daily Pundit was one of the first to jump on the ‘Cameron image’ bandwagon too, whereas Tim Worstall saw then that what these people are doing is using this sort of shitstorm technique to try to limit freedom of speech. Some bloody libertarians, eh?
Bob, I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about me…..:-)
Tim, I’m not sure I’ve ever said anything other than nice things about you.
Here’s the other interesting thing.
Having (very occasionally) read Owen’s blog and having seen Tim’s piece on what a hatchet job this is I attempted to leave a comment on the Daily Mail online version of this story linking to Tim’s rebuttal. This was yesterday morning. It has still not appeared.
Several bloggers have left comments, including Tim and Alex Harrowell, none of which have been published.