Over lunch today, my friend and colleague Blaise Baquiche mentioned that Guido Fawkes had done a hit piece on me. This was news to me, so I had to check, and indeed they did. Very exciting – fame at last, or at the very least infamy.
Even though this is clearly an utterly inconsequential source, given I didn’t even know it had happened for six months, I thought it was worth responding to some of their specific complaints. Unfortunately, these are fairly rare, if not entirely absent. In fact, considering my political website has, at current count, 15 static pages and 54 blog posts, there is no evidence that the author of the article even ventured off the homepage for the site. A little hint for them – there’s plenty more information “hidden” if you click on the menu and navigate to a subpage. In particular, the “About Ian” page which should give you plenty to comment on regarding my career and hobbies, as well as my disability, which I am certain you will mock given your search for low-hanging fruit.
So, onto the points they actually raised.
Actual picture of Guido Fawkes (NB – not actually a picture, this is clearly just a joke)
When I decided to write this website, I decided to ask some people that know me well to provide some testimonies. This includes family, friends, former coworkers, former students and people who I have worked with in my capacity as a candidate. In short, a good blend of people from my entire lifetime.
Guido Fawkes makes the complaint that:
My own name is all over this site, and all the testimonials are about me. However, the article criticising me for correctly withholding the name of someone who wished to remain anonymous comes from someone who didn’t even sign their own name to the article they wrote about me. Not sure if the anonymous author has ever heard of GDPR, but there are rules in the UK about what types of data you are allowed to share about someone, and on top of that there are good practices. I suppose I could have simply said that the quote was by J R Hartley or similar, but that would have been dishonest, which would breach one of the three principles that I felt important enough to include in the very header of my site.
In short, I liked the quote, so I put it on the site. If you don’t like that, the Back button is right there, you are most welcome to use it.
My family know me better than anyone, and I have had major disagreements about politics with many of my family over the years. Despite this, they are happy to endorse me as a political candidate, as are co-workers, friends and people I have worked with on an advocacy basis.
At this point, I ought to critique some of the reading comprehension of whoever wrote that article. In the testimonials section, there are two people mentioned as former fellow jū jūtsu instructors, not a single person who taught me jū jūtsu. In fact, both of these were my students, and happened to teach at the same club as me before my disability, hence they were fellow instructors. One of them served on the committee of the Aiuchi Jiu Jitsu Association with me, while the other is someone I have known for over a decade, supported when he applied for UK citizenship and attended his wedding in another country. Again, indicative of how well I know them and they know me.
Finally, it is genuinely impossible to work out what sources would be acceptable. After racking my brain, I think the only conclusion would be to approach people I don’t know and ask them for a comment about my personality and suitability for political office. I have simulated what this would look like below:
A comment in passing was that posting these testimonials was sycophantic posting. I think the author is confused, as sycophancy is basically sucking up to someone to try to gain an advantage, e.g. a promotion at work. In this case, comments that I post about myself cannot possibly be sycophantic. It could be argued that it’s self-promotion or some form of arrogance perhaps, but definitely not sycophancy.
Now, you can certainly argue that these were an effort by me to help people get to know me and what principles I stand for, and if that was the accusation I would say “guilty as charged”. That is, after all, the entire point of a personal website, and as an aspiring politician I need to get information about me out there.
No-one is forcing you or anyone else to read my site. Read if you want to find out more about me, or go somewhere else if you’d prefer to be doing something else.
The author makes the comment that I stated that Nadhim Zahawi should no longer be an MP. I stand by that.
The claim was then made that I should look into Ed Davey’s tax affairs. Okie dokie.
From what that article says, Ed Davey paid reduced tax on winding up of a company largely owned by his wife. Now, you might argue that this is immoral, you might argue that you want politicians and everyone else to stay clear of those options so that the Exchequer gets more money. That’s fine, but that needs to influence your voting choice, i.e. you need to vote for parties which state that they plan to close those options down. Right now, it’s perfectly legal, therefore criticising someone for paying lower tax rates on winding up a company is akin to claiming that politicians shouldn’t use ISAs to get tax free investment returns. Frankly it’s nonsensical – you can certainly argue that ISAs should exist at all, but you can’t argue that someone should make use of them given they exist.
Now let’s compare that to Zahawi. Zahawi deliberately lied about who owned his wealth. He tried to drop all the wealth into his parents’ name while retaining beneficial ownership himself. This isn’t what the law was written to allow, and as former Chancellor he would have been well aware of that. There are plenty of instances where spouses can transfer assets or income to one another with a reduced tax bill, and this is perfectly legal. The same does not apply to parents, and indeed there are anti-avoidance rules specifically aimed at parents putting money into children’s names to avoid income tax on the interest.
In short, these are not even remotely comparable.
Importantly, the Sky News article does not say that Ed Davey did anything illegal or even wrong, only that he reduced his tax bill. Which we are all entitled to do, per Lord Tomlin in 1936:
Dislike of Family Politics
The author takes a moment to comment on my YouTube show, Family Politics. In essence, they make the complaint that I only talk to my family. A couple of points on that particular complaint:
- The whole point of the show is to talk to family about politics, hence the name “Family Politics”. It was intended to be a fun play on a term that is often thrown about.
- Of the (currently) 3 episodes that have been recorded and published, 2 are with family and 1 is with someone else. In fact, the joke with the opening discussion is that we must be related in some way for the guest to appear on my show, even though that is clearly not true. Bravo for entirely missing the point – guess this is what happens when you just glance over a page looking for anything you can attack someone on.
Wow, what a poor showing. In essence, most of the article was focused on my testimonials. Frankly, if I don’t like someone’s testimonials, I ignore them and move on with my life. I don’t orchestrate a hit piece which focuses almost exclusively on third party comments about the person.
The claim about tax was flat out wrong, in that it claimed that Nadhim Zahawi and Ed Davey were basically guilty of the same thing, which is utterly incorrect.
Finally, the author clearly doesn’t like Family Politics, which is fine. best advice I can give to someone who doesn’t like the show is this: DON’T WATCH IT. Hope that’s useful!
Bonus - Comments
Unlike here, where comments are disabled at the advice of my Party, there are a number of comments on that article, many of which are, to put it fairly, stupid. Here are some choice examples:
Kind of him to notice, and yes, I do indeed try to be good. If reading my site induces vomiting, I suggest going to A&E, as there may well be a neurological cause for the nausea. Incidentally, I am not offering to babysit, so I’m really not sure why you are pre-emptively turning down that particular service.
Thanks for your comment David. Just to help, because I appreciate maths is hard, over half of the testimonials on my site are from people unrelated to me. You might want to be a little more careful about referring to others as “dumb” when you can’t count past 0!
This one’s not stupid, I actually quite liked it. Thanks, Ascended Master, I’ll do what I can!
Can’t actually remember the last time I did that. Suspect I did it at least once during my recovery period from serious illness, where I was barely able to walk for several weeks, but my memory from that time is fairly patchy because of the neurological issues I suffered at the time. But I’m now allowed out with my very own pocket money and I’m allowed to decide my own shopping items and everything!
Oh gosh, an attack on my looks, something I have absolutely no control over. Whatever will I do? Oh, I’ll carry on doing what I do, being a decent person and advocating for fairness, honesty and integrity.
Luckily I do not have aspirations to be a model or a film star.
Another attack on my looks, for some reason, as though they impact my politics. Regardless, I like my haircut, thanks, and my glasses are transitions, so if I was legitimately in shade they would have been clear. As they were in sunglasses mode, it must have been sunny.
Well, if you look at my About Ian page you can get some of my background. If you want to know where I grew up, Worcestershire, where I went to university, Cambridge, and where I have lived and worked for my whole career, London. Anything else I can help you with?