With uncanny timing, I'm directed by Twitter to a piece on Buzzfeed which purports to be by one 'Grant Shapps'*, attacking in a highly misleading fashion Ed Miliband's energy policy. Some of the 12 FACTS are in fact claims, some of the claims are repeated, and some don't address the question at all. Amazingly, none of the 12 FACTS are that capitalism's purpose is to redirect money from consumer to shareholder
That's by the by. But what amazes me is FACT 10, which dismisses all climate science and claims that Ed Miliband personally wants your energy bill to rise by £125 this winter. He doesn't, by the way - but he does think that the decarbonisation levy is important. More important than shareholder profits. The photograph accompanying the article is this one:
It seems somehow familiar. Let's check the credit. Oh! It's by Plashing Vole from when he met Ed Miliband a few years back! Despite being much, much more left wing than Ed, I like him and respect him. In person, he's warm, friendly, thoughtful and much sharper than you might think. I voted for him in the party leadership election (I hoped to vote for John McDonnell but he didn't get enough parliamentary nominations) and having met David Miliband too, I'm very pleased he won.
Now, I distinctly remember a previous entanglement with Grant Shapps. What was it now? Oh yes, I remember. I reported him to the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading and inaccurate advertising, namely posing under several pseudonyms – such as Michael Green – to sell software designed to plagiarise websites for the purpose of driving advertising clicks, and the story went national. I noted too that some of the ebooks he sold as rare and hard to find were available for pennies, and that not a single one of his testimonials were by people who were proved to exist. The company was recently dissolved and its behaviour was said by police to be potentially fraudulent. Here's a very enjoyable clip of the hapless Mr Shapps trying to avoid questioning by the redoubtable Michael Crick after it became a national story:
If I recall correctly, my complaint was dismissed by Mr Shapps as that of a 'politically motivated' blogger, which seemed a strange term for a professional politician (the chair of Britain's governing party, no less) to use pejoratively.
But clearly we must be friends now, or he wouldn't have spent time patiently looking through my Flickr feed looking for material to use without asking me. He's done nothing wrong, of course: the terms of the Creative Commons licence permit reuse, but it's a bit funny that of all the people whose work he could use, he finds mine!
*I'm not putting 'Grant Shapps' in quotation marks solely because he masquerades under multiple identities, but to draw attention to the widespread use of politicians' names on articles they patently haven't written. Who wrote this piece? Some drones in Conservative Central Office. I knew an MP's assistant who explained that when his very famous boss 'wrote' a piece for The Sun and other papers, he usually never even saw it. A Sun journalist would write it, my friend would OK it, and thus it would appear. It's normal practice. It's a lie, of course, but a standard one.