I've allowed myself to become involved in something I don't fully understand, and which I'm not quite sure I want to understand. Back when I was a hack on Publishing News, I spent a lot of fun evenings at book launches in the Westminster bookshop Politico's, run by John Simmonds and Iain Dale. While I regard Iain as a friend and have always enjoyed his company, I'm not sure I really trust him. He's an operator. Normally I fight shy of such movers, shakers, shifters and shufflers, but Iain's love of small dogs and the Eurovision Song Contest have always redeemed him.
A while back, I referred to one of his blog posts about various attempts to smear him. In response, I received a communication from head Bloggerhead Tim Ireland suggesting that Daley, if not an active smear artist himself, was not inclined to help anyone else out if they were being smeared. Ireland was speaking from his own bitter experience, having had to contend with nasty, utterly unfounded allegations that he was himself a paedophile. Ireland suggested that when he asked for Dale's help in refuting the allegations, Dale had been non-committal, then silent. I suspected that Dale didn't want to get involved with something that wasn't in his area, while Ireland seemed to think that there was a more sinister explanation. I'm staying well out of that one, ta very much. Any road up, after a to-and-fro in the comments section of my original blog post, Private Eye journalist Adam Macqueen, a friend and a person I can honestly say that I would trust with my life, weighed in by suggesting that I had made eye contact with "the nutter on the bus".
Adam, it turned out, had dealt with Ireland in the past, and wished he hadn't bothered, a common enough situation when working for the Eye, and sifting the plausible from the deranged. A hack can only say "Really? That's very interesting, but..." so many times before the urge to shout "FUCK OFF YOU FUCKING FUCKWIT" down the blower takes over. Adam's too professional to let it get to that stage, which might be why he gets more work than I do. Anyway, Ireland seemed to think that the "nutter on the bus" comment was a statement of Eye editorial policy rather than an off-duty aside from one friend to another. He's since tried repeatedly to get a retraction from Ian Hislop, who, understandably, wants nothing to do with the situation, because it's nothing to do with him.
Now, I don't want to get involved in the political aspect of this spat or any assessments of Ireland's mental well-being, but I'm pretty satisfied that he's not a nonce. He indicates that some people have been posting his home address and encouraging others to harass him. That's really not on. Also, the original correspondence on this blog has been used by Ireland's detractors as ammunition, which I'm not entirely thrilled about. I suspect that whatever I think of Ireland, I'd be unlikely to want to ally myself with his enemies. The trouble is that the more Ireland blogs about this awful state of affairs, the more he sounds like the nutter on the bus, even if he isn't. So, as a concerned third party, I ask anyone who's perpetuating the smear stories about Ireland's sexual preferences to stop it immediately. Please.
There have also been suggestions that he's been stalking Nadine Dorries. There's a very fine line between dogged pursuit of something worthwhile and obsession/stalking. As an obsessive-compulsive myself, I know that only too well. From where I'm sitting, Ireland's interest in Dorries is a combination of horrified fascination, a desire to see the woman's manifest absurdity exposed as widely as possible and simple mischief. In summary, I approve, and the silly cow should be flattered that anyone gives a tinker's cuss about her.
Anyone waiting for my account of running for Parliament, it's half-written in my drafts folder, and will follow when I can set aside a moment or two. I'm sure you're all desperate to read that.