Sock puppetry of a penis: the strange world of Andrew Gilligan

I wrote about Gilligan in an earlier blog. I noticed how he appeared to be singularly obsessed with Ken Livingstone, even going so far as to praise his rival, Oona King. This is an odd thing for a self-declared supporter of Boris Johnson to do but nothing is quite what it seems on Gilligan’s Island.

The Guardian’s Dave Hill uncovered evidence of Gilligan’s deceptive shenanigans back in 2008. So what is an Internet sockpuppet?  This is from Wikipedia

sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception within an online community. In its earliest usage, a sockpuppet was a false identity through which a member of an Internet community speaks with or about himself or herself, pretending to be a different person,[1]like a ventriloquist manipulating a hand puppet.

In current usage, the perception of the term has been extended beyond second identities of people who already post in a forum or blog to include other uses of misleading online identities. For example, a New York Times article claims that “sockpuppeting” is defined as “the act of creating a fake online identity to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company.”[2]

The key difference between a sockpuppet and a regular pseudonym (sometimes termed an “alt” which is short for alternate, as in alternate identity) is the pretense that the puppet is a third party who is not affiliated with the puppeteer or acting under their control for their benefit. The earliest known[1] usage of the term was on July 9, 1993 by Dana Rollins in a posting to bit.listserv.fnord-l,[3] but the term was not in common usage in USENET groups until 1996.

So Gilligan pops up on a blog or a forum under an assumed name. Nothing wrong with that you may think,  but sockpuppets exists to either give praise to themselves or to appear to be taking a contradictory line to the blogger. Most people leave sock puppets at the school gates before they embark on their journey through life. Not Gilligan.

Gilligan’s Telegraph blogs all follow a similar theme. This one is little different to say, this one. To an observer with even the slightest knowledge of psychology, Gilligan appears obsessed to the point of the ridiculous.

His role, it seems, is to act as a kind of Chomskyian flak machine for the Telegraph.  When he isn’t producing flak, he also acts as the coalition’s (and Boris Johnson’s) cheerleader-in-chief. Here he claims that the “public seem happy with this breakneck coalition”. The word “breakneck” is used to parry David Davis’s quip that this government is a “Brokeback coalition”. Cute.

Here Gilligan claims that The Guardian has fallen for an “extremist lie” but what he is actually saying is that he disagrees with the survey that was carried out. He offers no evidence to contradict the findings. Sunny Hundal of LiberalConspiracy asks the pertinent “Why is Andrew Gilligan still taken seriously”? Good question, but my guess is that he knows how to produce the sort of copy the Telegraph and its readers want: stories about ‘evil’ Muslims and regular hatchet-jobs on ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone. For an investigative journalist, his interests are a little limited.  Let’s face it, he’s no John Pilger.

Gilligan thinks that by screaming the words “Islamic fundamentalism”, he can convince readers that the country is being over-run by savages hell-bent on destroying our ‘democracy’. But is all he says about the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE)  justified or is it just another scare story from a man so desperate to be liked that he produce any old rubbish for his new masters?

This article in The Guardian dated 5 March 2010 rebuts Gilligan’s accusations and yes, it is written by a Muslim,

Contrary to Andrew Gilligan’s misrepresentations, IFE has been promoting a balanced message of our faith, often finding itself at loggerheads with fringe and extreme groups both within and outside the Muslim community. Far from supporting violence and terrorism, IFE members and supporters were among the first to assist the emergency services to support the victims of the 7/7 bombing in Aldgate. Our fight against extremism predates recent government schemes such as Prevent.

However according to Gilligan and Dispatches, the IFE has practically taken over Tower Hamlets Borough Council. This blog from Harry’s Place claims that the Tories have also been courting the IFE. Interstingly enough the blog links to an article by….Andrew Gilligan.

I’ve known for a while that Mr Archer has quite close and interesting relationships with the IFE’s headquarters, the East London Mosque. I’ve been prepared, until now, to put this down to the usual naivety of the white political establishment.

What is so revealing about this quote is that Gilligan refers to the “white political establishment”. It is as if to suggest that Islam is the religion of dark-skinned peoples. But it also tells us more: the attitudes to race have changed very little in Britain. This is a new kind of racism; it is the kind of racism that can be batted away with a mere “Islam isn’t a race”. Today Gilligan’s headline screams “Fundamentalists in London politics: new links emerge “. But reading the blog it quickly becomes apparent that much of his ‘new information’ is actually hearsay.

Gilligan is a tireless self-promoter. Originally writing for The Sunday Telegraph he was then hired by Rod Liddle, the editor of Radio 4’s Today programme. However after the Hutton inquiry, Gilligan’s career seemed destined for the dustbin. He was rescued by The  Evening Standard which he then left for The Spectator. From there he took up residence at The Daily Telegraph. This article from Middle East Monitor says that,

Over the past few days his articles have served as shameless self-promotion for this week’s Dispatches programme, prompting a number of allegations that he is neither objective nor balanced when it comes to his“investigation” of the Muslim community.

Shameless?  He most certainly is.  Watching Gilligan running around looking for Islamic extremists hiding under the bed is a little like watching a dog chase its own tail. Pointless.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Sock puppetry of a penis: the strange world of Andrew Gilligan

  1. Sam

    Another excellent exposé of Gilligan’s shortcomings as a journalist, Dave, and spot on in identifying the racism underlying his writings.

    Gilligan makes it his mission to defend the white establishment from those generally-not-white Muslims. “…much of the white establishment is still running a little scared of the Telegraph/Channel 4 Dispatches story…” he wrote in one of his blogs. Also, “in the back of every white person’s mind lurks the fear of the IFE’s favoured charge, ‘Islamophobia’.”

    Hardly surprising that Gilligan has been posting using other identities, but perhaps it’s time to expose his sordid relationship with the egregious Harry’s Place, which is where so many of his ilk converge nowadays.

    • Gilligan is what used to be called a yellow journalist. It’s a sad indictment of ‘investigative journalism’ and an indication that we really have moved into a postmodern period of politics and even journalism. Lies have become the new ‘truths’.

  2. Pingback: Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 3) « Guy Debord's Cat

  3. Pingback: Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 37) | Guy Debord's Cat

  4. Pingback: Who cares what Lord Sugar says? | Guy Debord's Cat

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