Thursday, May 31, 2012

The final proof that I was right over Yes Scotland's web scam - attacked by Newsnet Scotland

So, Yes Scotland has been forced into a third climbdown and has said it will no longer harvest the details of its Twitter followers. In the future, those pictured on the website will have signed up actively in some way to support the campaign or have signed the Declaration of Cineworld. I get a mention in the article in the Herald. I take slight offence to not getting any credit in the Scotsman article. 

For me the final proof that I actually had a point comes from a post on that Cybernats' Haven, Newsnet Scotland.  When I went to the Political Innovation day in Edinburgh in November 2010, Joan McAlpine was waxing lyrical, at length, about how fabulous this website was. This is the same Joan McAlpine who thnks that if you don't agree with SNP policy, you're anti Scottish and that the union compares to an abusive relationship. This is also the same Joan McAlpine whom Alex Salmond refuses to sack despite her outbursts and also discourtesy to Parliament.

The Newsnet article is hilarious. It accepts that NationBuilder counts Twitter followers as supporters, a point still being denied by Yes Scotland as recently as yesterday, but it tries to portray it as a denial of what I was saying. They also spell my name wrong.

Harvesting people's personal information without their consent, then creating them a profile that they didn't know about and putting their avatars on the front page of a site under a banner which implies support is devious and underhand, whoever does it.

I've been accused on Twitter of not attacking Labour for doing the same thing when they apparently used similar software. You can bet your life that if I'd ever been made aware that I was being used to promote the Labour party that I would have been as livid, but to my knowledge this has never happened. Nobody ever told me they saw me on the Ken for Mayor site, even though I was following him on Twitter.

It's hardly like I have any input at all in whatever software Labour use anyway.

The comments on this Newsnet Scotland piece would also be funny if they hadn't been made in all seriousness by people:

The YES campaign needs to be whiter than white until or unless there is a Damascene conversion in some of the MSM and a more balanced presentation of the issues is made. I will not wait for that to happen though (Hell and frost come to mind).

So they shouldn't behave with integrity because it's the right thing to do, but only until the media starts to agree with them and then they can unleash whatever dark arts they like? Lovely.

I know, though, that this is only a passing story. This is not the stuff of discussing Scotland's future, as The Shoogly Peg has pointed out. But I think it is important to spend some time ensuring that the ethical basis on which the campaign is being fought is fair and right. At least a woman's voice has been heard somewhere in the vicinity of the referendum campaign. And The Burd and I have plans to up the quality of the debate on the actual issues over the Summer.


Munguin said...

Caron I am sick and tired pointing out on here that there seems to be a discrepancy between the integrity of the way you expect the SNP to behave when “rigging” things and the way that the Lib Dems behave when “rigging” things. Is there no answer to that point because there is no answer or because you do not wish your five minutes of fame to be besmirched with the reality of Lib Dem hypocrisy? If behaving with integrity is the right thing to do for the SNP is it not equally the right thing to do for the Lib Dems? Why then is it ok for your Lib Dem SOS for Scotland Michael Moore to rig his consultation by vetting it for “quality” and to allow that definition of quality to include pat answers supplied by the Labour party. Does that kind of thing come under your Lib Dem umbrella of integrity or is it only everyone else that you want to have integrity?

If this was really an intention to rig the declaration it was one that was so cack-handed that it is far more reminiscent of the Lib Dem Tory coalition in England and their key stone cops method of governance than the competent administration usually supplied by the SNP, that so many people voted for recently. That suggests to me that it was a genuine error which has now been fully corrected. Are you suggesting that there is no integrity in admitting a mistake and correcting it? Would that the Lib Dems and their Tory allies did that more often. Mr Moore was unable to have sufficient integrity to respond to my FOI request asking him what were the terms of reference he used when “vetting” his consultations responses were.

While that famous Lib Dem integrity was also missing when right up to the very last moment Chris Huhne insisted he had done nothing wrong and enjoyed the full support of Nick Clegg, when he must have knows that there was a reasonable chance of being charged with perverting the course of justice, as indeed he was.

What a shame also that the Lib Dems integrity makes them feel unable to return all that stolen money that they received from Michael Brown, what happened to integrity then? Did they not think it was odd that a company in which Mr Brown was the sole director was suddenly wishing to give the Lib Dems a whole shed load of money. Never mind the fact that Mr Brown was not a British resident and so ineligible to donate to political parties, while his company was based in the US and had only very tenuous claim to be trading in the UK. Indeed the Electoral Commission only allowed the Lib Dems to keep all that hot money because Mr Brown’s company had bought furniture in the UK.

What a shame that Lib Dem integrity did not prevent David Laws claiming £40,000 second home allowance despite living with his boyfriend.

Yes indeed that Lib Dem integrity is such an example to us all!

Caron said...

What is this rigging the consultation nonsense? All the responses have been published. You couldn't get more transparent.

The issue is that the Yes website harvested the details of all its Twitter followers without their knowledge or consent and paraded their photographs under a slogan which implied they support independence when they don't.That was devious and underhand.

Genuine error? Well, if they'd admitted they'd cocked up on Tuesday rather than to have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing, I would look a lot more favourably on it. I still haven't had an apology from them.

Re Huhne, don't you subscribe to the principle of innocent until proven guilty?

And re Laws, you are aware that if he had been open and acknowledged the relationship from the top, he could have legitimately claimed a great deal more. It just illustrates the problems LGBT people still face in our society.

And as for Michael Brown, the Electoral Commission has ruled on this and stated that we don't need to pay the money back. That should be the end of the story.

Munguin said...

The rigging concerns the supposed “vetting” process Caron. Did Moore vet the responses? And has he published the responses that that vetting process rejected. I did include this in my FOI request submitted using the Scotland Offices own website but so far Mr Moore’s integrity does not stretch to responding to information requests. I intend to leave it for a while longer and if Mr Moore does not suddenly get an injection of integrity or indeed simple good manners and respond I will refer him to the Information Commissioner for Scotland.

The issues is Caron that you claimed that their using your avatar from Twitter was an attempt to rig the declaration rather than a blunder plain and simple. You said as much yourself. You also compounded this by saying they had form on this because they tried to rig their consultation. I’m sure you remember saying these things Caron. I really don’t see what point it serves making me type them all out again. Which is it?

Your first post on this was at 4.19pm on Tuesday by 10.22pm that day you were telling us they had altered their site and issued a statement and now you tell us they have made further changes. In other words they did not wait, as you imply, but took action right away. Is that not admitting that they had made an error? But you still persisted with your rigging line. Now you want a grovelling apology. This indicates to one and all that it was a genuine error that they took action to rectify almost at one. The devious and underhand thing as far as I can see is your attempt to make political hay out of it by blowing it out of all proportion and by representing it as something that it clearly is not.

You then felt the moral obligation to give the SNP a lecture on integrity. I was merely using illustrated examples to show that that kind of thing is a two way street and that the Lib Dems have blotted their integrity copy book often enough to not be in any position to give high falutin lectures on the subject to anyone.

Munguin said...

I do subscribe to innocent until proven guilty. But I am not a cabinet minister and I don’t have to set a good example to one and all by not being under suspicion of perverting the justice my government is there to make and uphold. And neither would I claim that there was nothing wrong and hold on to my job in that government until the police charged me and a trail date was set. Oh and I don’t have to live up to your high bench mark of integrity either. Mr Huhne must be well aware of whether he perverted the course of justice or not and clearly the police think he has a case to answer. That is hardly a high water mark of integrity now is it?

Munguin said...

Regarding Mr Laws his sexuality is not in question here so please do not try to obfuscate. Its his integrity I was talking about and the fact of the matter was he stole money from us to give to his boyfriend all the while thinking he was fit and proper to be in charge of the country’s finances. Do try to remember that it was you that said that integrity is the right thing to do.

Munguin said...

As for the Michael Brown issue. The Electoral Commission fig leaf is you sole excuse for keeping several million pounds of stolen money. Mr Brown’s sole business in this country was to steal money from people and launder it through a US based company of which he was sole director. He purchased legitimacy by giving the Lib Dems money pure and simple. As a non resident in the UK he was not eligible to give money to the Lib Dems while his US based country had to trade here to be able to do so. The proof the Electoral Commission used to prove that his company traded was that it bough furniture in this country. Despite a court deciding that Mr Brown and his companys sole purpose was to steal money. The Lib Dems would rather believe that EC than the court because that way they get to keep the money. Is that integrity? It may not be the end of it Caron because I understand that Mr Brown is being extradited to the UK where the people he cheated intend to take the Lib Dems to court to reclaim their stolen money. Something that a simply amount of integrity would surely meant they would anyway. The point is that the whole affair stinks and most certainly disqualifies the Lib Dems from giving lectures to anyone on integrity.

Munguin said...

Seems to be a comment missing there Caron, any idea what happened to it?

Munguin said...

A comment seems to have been “vetted” from the discussion Caron. Are you taking a leaf out of Mr Moore’s book? Should I save them from now on in case you have an integrity failure?

Let’s see if I can remember how it went.

The rigging concerns Mr Moore’s vetting of the submissions to the English consultation. Is this an example of Lib Dem integrity? Have all the responses been published Caron, whether allowed by the vetting process or not? I did submit an FOI to Mr Moore using his own Scotland Office website requesting the terms of reference for that vetting process and also requesting where I may view all the responses both vetted and otherwise. But so far Mr Moore has not had the integrity or the good manners to respond at all.

The issue Caron is that you claimed that the yes campaign was rigging the declaration rather than making a simple blunder. I’m sure you remember doing that. You then claimed that the SNP had form on this because they tried to rig their consultation. I’m sure you remember saying that too Caron. Then you got on your moral high horse and gave us a lecture on integrity. Is any of this ringing a bell?

The first we hear from you on this subject was at 4.19pm on Tuesday under your heading “Yes Scotland must be desperate” when you tell us the dastardly plot to rig the declaration by using your twitter avatar to suggest you are a supporter; by 10.22pm that same day under your heading “So, yes Scotland’s failure is my fault...even though they’ve altered their site” you inform us that they have acted to change the wording and issued a statement. Although not the cringing apology you seem to demand. It seems to be clear to one and all that this was a genuine error that they moved to do something about almost immediately and certainly not the attempt to rig the thing, as you claim. Hardly kicking and screaming now was it? The only thing that was devious and underhand was in fact your attempt to portray this as some sort of dastardly plot to fix the results by claiming that you support the yes campaign. The very thought of this shows just how ridiculous such an attempt, were it true, would be. Everybody who reads you blog Caron knows you would never change track from you slavish adherence to Lib Dem party central line, and would never let things like logic, the obvious or common sense get in the way of that.

Caron said...

Heavens, Munguin, you are paranoid. I think it was the comment published at 2:42 with a bit of added venom.

Forgive me if I just nip out to pick up my daughter from school.

The Yes Scotland website were underhand and dishonest by seeking to represent my views and those of many other Twitter followers as supporters of independence. They didn't say that, but it was very clearly implied. Therefore, if they are padding out the numbers with people who don't support independence, that constitutes rigging.

The real issue is that they had no right to help themselves to my avatar, stick it on their site, create a profile for me that I knew nothing about.

We started to make a fuss about this abuse of our photos on Tuesday afternoon. Stephen Noon put out some garbage about followers and supporters and the website was changed - but it still didn't differentiate between people who actively supported the cause and those who expressed interest.

It wasn't until last night that it finally changed and said that they would only put genuine supporters on their page.

And I still to this day haven't got a clue what you mean about the Scottish Government consultation responses. They received 3000 and 3000 have been published. Does it get more transparent?

tris said...

What is it exactly that you object to in the phrase "powered by people of independent mind"

Do you not have an independent mind?

Caron said...

Tris, that phrase was sneakily devised. It didn't quite say "these folk support independence" but it sure as hell implied it.

Caron said...

Munguin, I'm sure if you rang up the great and the good in the Liberal Democrats and suggested that I was slavishly adherent to them, they would laugh their socks off.

But then independence of view is something that liberals vanish - unlike the SNP, whose MSPs rule their councillors with a rod of iron.

Munguin said...

Forgive me Caron but I am not paranoid, it’s just that the comments above did not appear in the order I submitted them. I thought I would reduce them to bite sized chunks to make it more easy for you. But when the first and third ones appeared as the first and second it looked like you had left one out. Funnily enough the longest one. As this is something you and other Lib Dems have form on (your term). I was just wondering how you can vet them in the order: one; three; four; five; two? I will of course give you the benefit of the doubt and not accuse you of attempting to “rig” the discussion.

But Caron they publish the number of people who have actually signed the thing so how can there be any dubiety about the numbers? If they say “x” number has signed it, is that not clear enough for you? How is using a photo from you twitter feed going to pad that number out? Or even come anywhere close to rigging anything? I think that as there was movement on this before the end of the day you pointed it out indicates that it was a mistake and not an attempt to rig anything. For you to go on to make three-ring circus out of the whole affair just goes to show how desperate you and the Lib Dems are.

As I say, and as I have illustrated above there is plenty of underhand dishonesty about. The Lib Dems are wonderful exemplars of both and I really think it is somewhat disingenuous of you to take such a morally self-righteous attitude when your own party is so riddled with all the nasty things you claim for the SNP. Perhaps if you and the rest of your party put your own house in order rather than making every minor SNP snafu into a gargantuan conspiracy against everything. The more we might be prepared to listen to your shrill lectures on integrity!

I think it was the English government’s consultation that got three thousand responses and not the Scottish one, did it not get over twenty thousand? I don’t see how I can be clearer on this either: Mr Moore told us all he was going to be “vetting” the responses for “quality” do you remember that? He then told us there were 3,000 responses. Now I asked in a freedom of information request what that “vetting” process involved and if those three thousand responses were those left “after” the vetting. Got it? And I asked if I could see all the responses both “vetted” and otherwise. Now the mere fact that “vetting” anything is a form of rigging in itself. Who does Moore think he is weeding out responses? What framework did he use for that vetting? And why are set answers that must all be nearly identical from a Labour website allowed? This all smacks to me of rigging and I was using it as an example of such. I cannot see how I can be any clearer than that.

Caron said...

If I'm moderating them from e-mail, I might not necessarily read them in the order you want me to. And, do you know, I did your last one almost while I was serving the dinner in case you started to have palpitations at the thought of it not being published. I couldn't bring myself to be that cruel.

If you are putting the Twitter avatar of everyone following you on your website under a dubious headline, it is of course going to pad the numbers of your supporters out.

And the only reason I had to continue to make a fuss about it is that Yes Scotland just spewed out garbage in response. They knew fine their position was untenable, though, given that within 48 hours they'd climbed down.

And while we're on the subject of integrity - Mr Gibson and his surgery ads on the public purse. Not big or clever.

Can you point me exactly to where Mike said the responses would be vetted for quality. You don't substantiate it in your blog post and, frankly, all Google searches lead to your post.

I've had a look through a fair few of these things and there is all variety of opinion there. I wonder if you can guess which mine is.

cynicalHighlander said...

This isn't just any consultation response, this is a quality unionist consultation response

As to your assertions that only the anti independence brigade have integrity, logic, reasoning etc shows yourselves to be the biggest hypocrits that the world has ever seen or heard from.

No student fees! no integrity
No nuclear subsidy! no integrity
Trident! no integrity
Sorting the banks! no integrity

I could go on but life is far to short to waste time on and we will be Independent in 2014 because people are sick to death of living in the dictatorship controlled by unionists.

Caron said...

Oh, CH, how good to see you. Have really missed you.

Now, where did I say that only the pro UK lot have integrity?

What I am saying is that Yes, Scotland has really mucked up on this and has form for such things - ie the anonymous multiple consultation responses, so I am concerned that their campaign doesn't have a strong ethical basis.

Munguin said...

If Mr Moore did not “vet”, the responses as you claim, why has he not responded to my FOI request (submitted using his own departments mechanism and website) to say so? Not that difficult is it?

In this item from Newsnet Scotland ( you will see that Mr Moore claims that 2857 submissions were allowed after the removal of 101 anonymous and 118 multiple submissions. However, he also admits that 740 multiple submissions were allowed from a Labour Party website. There, therefore, seems to be a qualitative element to the vetting procedure, that I feel requires clarification and which certainly smacks of rigging. Here also is a post from Scot Goes Pop that mentions the vetting process; so it’s not just me. Did you do that googling between courses?

The comment you did not publish was submitted at 2.42pm, funny time to be having dinner or picking up the kids from school or whatever other smug reason you may like to put forward for rigging things. No palpitations I assure, you just the usual mild annoyance at the Lib Dem tactic of not publishing comments until they are out of date and unlikely to be read unless the commenter makes as fuss (as in this case) and then we get some fairy tale about you having a life (again as in this case). I would have though what with this being you five minutes of fame (in all the papers and on TV {my my!}) you would have been glued to developments and not off looking for a new bra in Asda!

The dubious headline I suppose was “people of an independent mind”, well I guess you are right to be upset about that. It certainly does not describe you, as your slavish adherence to the Lib Dem party line and innate ability to skate over any Lib Dem short coming and regurgitate the twee party excuses, more than demonstrates. As I say the fact that it was fixed within 48 hours indicates it was a genuine mistake and not the attempt to “rig” the thing as you suggest. The only lack of integrity I can see is that you continue in your shrill admonishments.

I’m not the one giving a lecture to one and all on integrity Caron, therefore your attempt to sideline the issue onto the conduct of Mr Gibson will not wash!

Caron said...

It may surprise you to know that Mr Moore doesn't open his own post. FOI request, and consultation responses for that matter, are dealt with by politically neutral civil servants. For some reason, it appears that the SNP Government is using a private company for their consultation. I wonder why that is.

I don't have to answer to you or anybody else about when and how I post their comments - I normally do them as soon as I can. I actually thought I'd done this one this morning from my phone, and it was only when I came to answer it now that I realised that it hadn't appeared.

Newsnet Scotland were caught on the hop over the issue of being able to post multiple anonymous responses to the Scottish Government consultation. That's why they thought they'd go on the attack with very little evidence. As far as I know, all the responses were posted with the exception of the very few that requested not to be published.

I'm sure that if the powers that be in the Lib Dems read your comment that I was slavishly adherent to their line, they'd be overcome with hysterical laughter. Did you read anything I wrote about tuition fees, or the welfare reform bill or web snooping?

Munguin said...

So you are claiming that Mr Moore did not remove any submissions and that newsnet Scotland are publishing lies, is that right? It seems to be impossible to get you to admit that there is anything wrong with the English consultation. You ask for links I give you them and you respond by ignoring their substance altogether and taking at best a tangential approach. If that is not slavish adherence to the Lib Dem line what is? You are a classic apologist for the Lib Dems and never even come near to admitting they have ever done anything wrong. Like you just wont admit that the Lib Dems accepted stolen money from Mr Brown even though a court said that his only purpose in this country was to steal from people.

When I said Mr Moore has not responded I was referring to him and his department which I see is a byword for incompetence or idiocy, or both. Probably his minions take their lead from him. But don’t worry Caron I have already composed a letter to Mr Moore personally asking why his department has not responded. And if he wants to ignore that as well I will be referring him to the Information Commissioner for Scotland.

I’m not saying you do have to answer to me regarding when and how you post comments. But then I’m not the one who is running about like a headless chicken crowing about the “integrity” I expect from everyone else. You are!

Caron said...

Why do you insist on calling it the English consultation? It's run by a Scot in the Scotland Office.

Munguin said...

I call it the English consultation because it is run by and for the English government as distinct from that run by and for the Scottish people by the Scottish Government.


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