What’s Up Astroturfer?

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to remind Tories that whining only makes it worse but there are some who seem unable to get the message.

Only the other day I ripped on one of George Osborne’s bag carriers, a guy called Rohan Silva, who’s rather ostentatiously referred to as an ‘Economic Advisor’ over the little matter of a piss poor attempt to whip up another  cheap ‘they’re stealing our ideas’ headline in the wake of Tom Watson’s first ministerial speech on ‘transformational government’, a post which demonstrated the full extent to which the Tories are stealing their ideas from other, including this current government.

After a bit of digging around I discovered that young Rohan has a bit of previous form for pulling Homer’s if left alone with an e-mail client around time of year, which I duly reported and, a while later, my efforts were rewarded with a couple of comments from ‘Ex-Treasury Civil Servant’ which seemed to confirm my general impression that Silva is, well, a bit of muppet and nothing like the big wheel he’s cracked up to be.

Now I’m not one to take pseudonymous comments as gospel without doing some back-checking, but happily our former civil servant left enough information behind of the kind that only I get access to as the owner and sole proprietor of MoT for my to check them out and assure myself that they’re kosher. Whether their opinion of Silva stacks up is a separate matter but as the source looks reliable that’s enough for me to let the comments stand and see what develops.

Then the fun starts because next into bat is ‘Andrew L’ and ‘Andy’ just lurves Rohan…

What!? I knew Rohan well at the Treasury – in fact, I used to worked with him for 12 months or so.

He came in through the Fast Stream – the graduate recuitment scheme for the most high-flying of the year’s intake (only 500 or so out of 20000 applicants get in, and of them, only around 10 make it into the Treasury – about 0.05% of all applicants).

All in all, he’s a class act. Bright, sound – and a good bloke.

Oooh, there’s a whiff of artificial grass there and sure enough, a quick check reveals that while ‘Andy’ has tried to cover his tracks by giving at hotmail address in the e-mail field – andrew2001@hotmail.com to be precise (and should anyone care to ID the owner, then the comments are open) – the IP address from which the post was made shows it submitted from a PC somewhere in Parliament.

Curiouser and curiouser.

And then things get even more interesting as ‘Internet Wizz’ weighs into the fray with another love letter to Rohan:

I met Rohan at Harvard Business School last summer, at a week-long seminar on the impact of the internet on policymaking.


He was really switched on, really sharp, and totally committed to making a difference.

Shame on you for picking on him.

Except that the seminar lasted only two days and, rather stupidly, ‘Wizz’ supplied an email address which they thought would create the impression that they were actually one of the other participants in the seminar, Doc Searls, using just about the oldest trick in the book – the actual address given was docsearles@[email provider].com.

Stupidly? Well yes, because although we’ve never met, Doc is a bit of a big wheel in Linux circles, so I know his work, reputation and exactly where his current blog is located and what Doc’s blog tells me is that he’s currently safely ensconced in the good ol’ US of A, while ‘Wizz’ is posting from an Orange Home DSL connection on the Greenwich (London) switch…


Looks like our astroturfer may have been working late an the House last night but popped back for a bit of afters before leaving home this morning.

Even worse, from a couple of further comments from our earlier former civil servant and a new entry from ‘Tory Reasearcher’ (who also checks out as kosher) it looks very much like its not only the case that Rohan may not be ‘all that’ when it comes to economics,

I bumped into a mutual friend and can confirm he doesn’t have an economics qualification.

And from this e-mailing he seems to be self-evidently not switched on ;)

Happy to help.

p.s. If they are sending him to these things, is Rohan Silva the new Sam Roake?

All of which hardly inspires confidence is either Rohan or in his boss, George Osborne,who is ostensibly taking his advice…

or is he?

“Silvs” is the single most complained-about parliamentary researcher in the whole of the Tory Commons. Not least of all by women in the Parliamentary party. I find him sleazy and lecherous and always get the impression that he is mentally undressing you.

His referring to himself as an ‘economic adviser’ is laughable, especially as he is *not allowed* to do any economic policy and they find uses for him doing odds and ends. Far from claiming credit for the IHT policy, I doubt Silva was allowed near a calculator.

He was given “credit” before the launch for the “Tosser” campaign, and he did the “research” for the Cameron rape speech.


He’s bloody typical of the vacuous moderniser tendency in the Party. He loves Barack Obama (he was reported in the press as being “bursting with excitement” after attending one of Obama’s speeches).

[The exact quote is ‘George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, has dispatched two junior aides, Rupert Harrison and Rohan Silva, to monitor the US primaries. One was said to be “bursting out of his skin with excitement” after attending an Obama event‘. – The Times, 12th Jan 2008]

Forget the merits of Obama: how can an adviser to the Tory Shadow Chancellor enthuse so much about an explicitly socialist campaign?

Not exactly Mr Popular is he, our ‘Silvs’ – if that’s what his own side thinks of him, fuck knows how he goes down with political opponents. If our ‘Tory Researcher’ is on the money – and I’ve no reason to think that they aren’t – then young Rohan may be no more than a bit of a scutter not to mention a dumping ground for the ‘credit’ for failures like the Tories ‘Tosser’ campaign.

(It’s also quite gratifying to see someone link to one of my own earlier articles as a means of ‘assassinating’ someone they clearly think would have been suited to a starring role in the ‘Tosser’ campaign than taking the credit for its launch.)

And that’s it so far, although should anyone care to identify ‘Andrew L’, clarify exactly which university Rohan actually went to and what course he studied, or just join the party and give Rohan a bit more of a verbal kicking, then head to the comment’s box and knock yourself out.

Just don’t get the idea that you can try and astroturf here without getting spotted.

4 thoughts on “What’s Up Astroturfer?

  1. 1. Hahahahaha! I guess the Tories are too busy rewriting the history of Teh Interwebs to know who Doc Searls is.

    2. Funny how things connect sometimes. I met Doc Searls all the way back in 2003…

    … and arrived home to find a Tory trying to hijack my long-running Blair email campaign:

    The Tim Yeo blog that followed was the very first ‘MP stalker’ blog, and guess what? Iain Dale was a fan*!

    [*Iain can deny this if he wants, but I have the link-begging emails to prove it.]

  2. With regards to the conference (and I don’t know anything about the chap, this story just piqued my interest in a random bit of surfing), if you search for his name in Flickr you’ll find a photostream from Doc Searl which contains the following image in which RS appears to be labelled… http://www.flickr.com/photos/docsearls/965769255/ which are from a series entitled “Internet as a Public Good discussions at the Harvard Law School.” Thought you might be interested.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.