Tim Ireland chivvies me into keeping the pressure on Andrew Gilligan and his mysterious ‘partner’, kennite, who so oddly disappeared from the Guardian’s Comment Is Free website after Gilligan was accused of sockpuppeting by Adam Bienkov on the 30th October, an allegation which he followed up here and which Dave Hill reported at length on here.
Here, then, is a short precis of what some further researches dug up. There’s no particular order or narrative here, what we have is a mish-mash of ideas, quotes, times and memes that coalesce around the themes of Routemasters, bendy buses, Ken Livingstone and Andrew Gilligan, culled from various sites and known and unknown Gilligan associates. So, without further ado:
Provisional analysis of Guardian comment postings under both names, by date:
Date andrewgilligan kennite
17/7/07 0 2
7/8/07 0 1
7/8/07 0 1
7/9/07 0 1
20/11/07 0 2
29/11/07 1 2
30/11/07 1 0
4/12/07 1 0
13/12/07 2 0
14/12/07 3 0
15/12/07 4 0
17/12/07 2 0
30/1/08 0 2
27/2/08 2 0
21/3/08 0 2
23/3/08 0 1
20/4/08 0 1
1/7/08 0 1
18/9/08 0 2
19/9/08 0 1
20/9/08 0 1
22/9/08 0 1
5/10/08 0 1
6/10/08 0 1
24/10/08 0 1
3/11/08 2 0
- kennite is the first profile to post on 17th July 2007 (at 1:01am, then at 2:46am, characteristically with a factually inaccurate but pro-Tory comment about transport), but stops posting after 3:21pm on 29th November 2007, in a thread about Gilligan and Con Coughlin.
- Gilligan then starts posting under his own name less than an hour later in that same thread on the same afternoon (29th November 2007 at 4:13pm) and continues almost alone until 27th February 2008, in which time kennite only makes two appearances, on 30th January 2008 in a thread about, er, Ken Livingstone. Sadly, one of them was deleted by the moderators.
- kennite then takes over completely until his final post on 24th October 2008, just before Adam’s revelations, This includes a lengthy quiet period over the Mayoral election, the disastrous Policy Exchange-driven first four months and last summer. In fact, from 20th April 2008 to 18th September 2008 only a single post was made by Gilligan’s ‘partner’, which came on 1st July and was (and I know this is hard to believe) about Ken Livingstone’s LBC show.
It does have to be said that the record shows that kennite posts fairly sparsely while andrewgilligan posts in bursts (mid-December 2007, for instance). However, kennite was an unusually regular poster from 18th September to 6th October, entirely on Dave Hill’s blog and mostly monomanically about buses.
The conclusion from this is that it is just possible they’re separate, but they’re undoubtedly very, very connected, a connection which was completely unknown until Adam discovered it. The following evidence can support either claim:
- kennite is the bus obsessive, andrewgilligan never mentions them, but kennite’s bus stuff has strong echoes in Gilligan’s Standard articles,
- Both are pretty much equally obsessive, Ken-hating and tiresomely self-regarding,
- They don’t seem to overlap in their posting – there’s usually one or other active at a time,
- andrewgilligan usually writes much longer comments, usually about LDA stuff, although this didn’t happen on the 29th November 2007 postings which marked the end of kennite’s first period of posting and the emergence of andrewgilligan as a poster in his own right,
- kennite is more aggressive and unpleasant,
- kennite often posted in the small hours – 1:10, 2:46, 3:00am – on three occasions last year and none since. andrewgilligan has nothing on CiF past 00:30,
- ‘Andrew Gilligan’ posted on TTT at 1:20 the other morning.
Now Adam’s original allegations were over similar phraseology he discovered under different names. The timeline is worth noting:
- 3/10/08 – an anonymous commentor uses the phrase ‘a certain mad nobility’ line and the Rose West comparison, on TTT
- 6/10/08 – kennite uses the phrase ‘a certain mad, self-destructive nobility’ in a comment on CiF.
- 27/10/08 – Gilligan uses the phrase ‘a certain mad nobility’, plus the Rose West comparison, in a badly aimed attack on me in the Evening Standard
Let’s explore the options that could leave Gilligan and kennite as separate people:
- the 3rd October Anonymous on TTT and Gilligan are the same person, and Gilligan was therefore sockpuppeting on TTT but not CiF. That implies that kennite was familiar with the phrase ‘a certain mad nobility’ in connection with buses three days after Gilligan used it anonymously on a blog and three weeks before it appeared in the Standard, and therefore is arguably familiar with Gilligan’s sockpuppeting anonymously on TTT.
- Anonymous and kennite are the same, and Gilligan is not sockpuppeting. This implies that Gilligan picks up phrases he uses in his articles from comments left anonymously on blogs by his ‘partner’, which begs the question ‘who’s kennite that he has such influence over Gilligan despite being demonstrably wrong about things, and what’s Gilligan’s explanation for apparently writing articles for a major newspaper based on incorrect information from his ‘partner’ and without attribution’?
Anonymous on Tory Troll is textually closer to Gilligan’s eventual article than kennite is, but the tone is closer to kennite, who’s much more aggressive and unpleasant. Then again, that’s consistent with the basic reason for sock-puppeting, which is usually to let the sockpuppet do the dirty stuff in order to keep your own image clean.
Both of them freely use the phrase ‘Ken Left’ (or ‘Livingstone Left’), which is a signature phrase. Examples:
- ‘An oversight? Or another example of the Ken Left’s disregard for the facts? ‘ – AG
- ‘There’s a certain mad, self-destructive nobility in the Ken Left’s dogged defence of some of the most disliked things in London’ – kennite
- ‘Even by the standards of the Ken Left, it strikes me as more than usually bizarre to accuse me of concealing my true views about our former mayor and his online fan club’ – AG
- ‘And I think his statement that “I don’t get the obsession with seats” sums up everything that is wrong with the Livingstone Left’s approach to this issue, and their total divorce from the wishes of real bus users’ – kennite (incidentally attacking me, a real bus user).
It’s an oddly recent phrase though, and I can’t find any use of it other than by those two.
One noteworthy thing is that Gilligan’s Standard articles are much more bus-obsessed than his ‘official’ CiF profile, and therefore closer to the bus-crazy kennite. If they are indeed separate people, this opens up the hypothetical possibility that kennite is behind Gilligan’s frequent stories on bus policy. The following excerpts, made interestingly over a longish time period, indicate that this link between Gilligan and his ‘partner’ is well-established:
- Gilligan, writing for Policy Exchange, 2005: “TfL also ran a big publicity drive on the 73, with posters and leaflets bearing a picture of a bendy bus and the slogan “Better from every angle.” Sadly, this claim has now been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority on the grounds that it is false. With only 2,009 seats available in the peak hour, as against 3,960 under the old Routemaster regime,the “new 73” was not better from every angle at all.”
- kennite, CiF, 7/9/07: “The frequency on the 73 route, for instance, was reduced when bendy buses took over. The “PVR” (peak-hour vehicle requirement) for this route used to be 55 Routemasters. The service is now operated with only 43 bendies. And because the number of seats on a bendy is dramatically lower than on a Routemaster, peak-hour seating capacity has been reduced by nearly half.”
- Gilligan, ES, 27/10/08: “on the 73, where the number of buses on the route fell by a quarter over the old RM days and peak-hour seats by half.” (actually 22%, not a quarter, but it’s obviously the same statistic, londonbusroutes.net is probably the source).
Note the grammatically similar (and similarly poor) structure of these two sentences (written two years apart), which also happen to be near-identical in meaning:
- Gilligan: With only 2,009 seats available in the peak hour, as against 3,960 under the old Routemaster regime,the “new 73” was not better from every angle at all
- kennite: And because the number of seats on a bendy is dramatically lower than on a Routemaster, peak-hour seating capacity has been reduced by nearly half.”
Starting sentences with prepositions (‘With’) or conjunctions (‘And’ and ‘But’, mostly the latter) is a common Gilligan trait, which drives me to distraction when reading his rubbish. That kennite shares this trait abundantly is a major signifier to me that their connection is probably deeper than mere partnership.
[For the stattos: 55 RMLs have 3,960 seats, 43 bendies have 2,107 seats, 41 bendies have 2,009 seats. It's the massive increase in standing capacity that makes the difference - the RMLs have 275 against the bendies' massive 3,053 - the total capacity of the route therefore increased 22% while the staffing requirement fell from 55 drivers plus 55 conductors to 43 drivers. This emphasises again that the major issue in London bus policy is not design or safety or even environmental friendliness but capacity]
- Gilligan, PX, 2005: “Survey after survey shows that what passengers want most of all is a seat, but this is the most fundamental thing that new-generation buses fail to provide. Modern double-deckers have as few as 16 seats downstairs. “
- kennite, CiF, 19/9/08: “But the real difference is that the seating capacity downstairs, where most people want to sit, is far, far fewer on a modern decker. Some modern deckers in service in London today have as few as eight accessible seats downstairs (the remainder, in the rear section of the lower deck, are up a step.)”
And another one, bringing in another venue where suspiciously similar comments have been made anonymously:
- kennite, CiF, 17/7/07 : “”Free travel” for under-18s on the buses is a Ken initiative, but it is not, of course, free. It is simply paid for by other travellers, who were hit with an overnight 25% increase in the Oyster single bus fare in January 2007 in order to raise the money for the “free” child fares.
- Gilligan, ES, 1/11/2007: “But remind me again: who was it who only in January jacked up the single Oyster bus fare by 25 per cent – from 80p to £1, an increase almost 10 times inflation? All that this autumn’s “cut” and 2008′s “freeze” mean is that the overall fare rise has come down from monstrous to merely extortionate.”
- Anonymous, TimmyMc’s blog, 10/9/2008 (before kennite reappears on Dave’s blog, and responding to an attack on Gilligan): “Oyster fares were NOT frozen last year. In January 2007, the single bus Oyster fare rose by 25 per cent – from 80p to £1. In September it was reduced to 90p – still a 12.5 per cent increase, three times the rate of inflation. Oyster Travelcard fares and most Oyster Tube single fares were also raised last year.”
- Andrew Ross, comment, ES, 8/9/2008 (on a Gilligan piece, of course): “Ken did not “freeze Oyster fares” – this is a straightforward rewriting of history. In Jan 2007 he raised the Oyster single bus fare by 25 per cent, from 80p to £1. He then reduced it to 90p just before the election. But it has still gone up by more than 20 per cent over what it was when he won re-election in 2004. He also increased Travelcard prices by more than the rate of inflation every single year.”
Wait a minute, who’s this Andrew Ross, with his remarkably familiar use of ‘But’ to start a sentance and apparent case of advanced Ken obsession?
- Andrew Ross, comment, Liberal Conspiracy, 2/11/2008 (left on a frankly bizarre thread started by one Mike Killingworth on the 27th October 2008, the same day as Gilligan’s attack on me in the Standard, in which Mike calls Val Shawcross an ‘idiot’ for being right about things):
“TfL’s figures do show that bendy buses are significantly more dangerous than other forms of bus:
Pedestrian injuries: 5.6 per million miles, compared with 2.6 per million miles for all other buses.
Collisions with cyclists: 2.62 per million miles, compared with 0.97/m for all other buses.
Accidents: 153 per million miles, compared with 87/m for all other buses.
Written answer to Geoff Pope AM, May 07.
Shawcross’s claim that replacing bendies with double-deckers will cost £300,000 per year per bus has this week been described as “amazingly high” and “naive” by the main industry trade journal, Buses. Tender results on the TfL website show that bendies are in fact more expensive than double-deckers, by around 5%.
Bendies also offer poor passenger service; three of the four least reliable routes in London, according to TfL’s latest quarterly bus route monitoring stats, are operated by bendies. Frequencies have been cut and the number of seats available on some routes has fallen by as much as half after they were converted from double-deck to bendy operation.
I’d say you’d got your characterisation of Ms Shawcross pretty well right.”
Gilligan, ES, 27/10/2008:
“the tender results, published on the TfL website, show that the bids to run the routes with bendies were in every single case higher, sometimes by seven figures….three of the worst four routes in London are operated by bendies.”
“Bendy buses are not safer. Figures provided to the London Assembly member Geoff Pope by the Mayor himself (and available on the London Assembly website) show that they are significantly more dangerous than other types of bus.
According to the stats, in 2006/7 bendy buses caused 5.6 pedestrian injuries per million miles operated, compared with 2.6 injuries per million miles for other types of bus. They were involved in 2.62 collisions with cyclists per million miles, compared with 0.97 collisions per million miles for other buses. “
Ross281, CiF, 31/10/2008 (at a kennite-friendly 12:54 am)
“You might like to look at the latest issue of Buses magazine, the main industry trade journal and not an anti-bendy publication by any means. It describes Travelwatch’s £300k-per-bus figure as “amazingly high” and accuses them of “naivety.”"
I can’t find *anything* else from ‘Andrew Ross’ anywhere. His only LC comment combines a kennite CiF comment with quotes lifted without attribution from a Gilligan article. His only CiF comment comes on a Dave Hill bus thread that one would normally expect kennite to appear in, but this one was posted the day *after* Adam’s 30th October revelations.
What else stands out? Gilligan contributed to the original 2005 Policy Exchange bendy jihad pamphlet using kennite’s talking points long before kennite appeared, but since kennite appeared in 2007 Gilligan has occasionally used talking points kennite originated on CiF in his Standard journalism. It’s very odd. Fundamentally, there’s the question of ‘if Gilligan isn’t kennite, who is?’. All we know for sure now is that kennite is at the very least highly connected to Gilligan and is very up with the bendy jihad, and in possession of some distinctly dodgy facts that just happen to coincide with Conservative Party agendas (see below). The question is the nature of that connection. I’m wondering if these articles in spikedonline might hold some clues – we know spiked has PX/Team Boris connections, of course.
Whoever they are, they:
- trade phrases and talking points accurately but invisibly,
- commonly start sentences with ‘With’, ‘And’ and particularly ‘But’,
- are obsessed with Ken Livingstone,
- share a liking for attacking Dave Hill,
- defend Andrew Gilligan when he comes in for criticism,
- are interested in Con Coughlin and MI6,
- kennite doesn’t appear to exist as a username anywhere else that we’ve found yet, although there are Anonymice who resemble both or either of them. Kennite itself is a Biblical term, and a bad pun.
- kennite has vanished since Adam’s original expose, but a mysterious ‘Andrew Ross/Ross281′ appeared briefly in three places immediately afterwards. Who is ‘Andrew Ross’? Gilligan? Kennite? Just an admirer?
Finally, an interesting coincidence?
- kennite, CiF, 17/7/2007 : “Despite endless talk, there has been no investment whatever in new rail lines (unlike, it has to be said, the horrible, evil Tories, who approved the Jubilee Line extension, the DLR, the Croydon Tramlink and the Heathrow Express.)”
- Annoying Chiswick Tory David Giles, ChiswickW4.com, 25/3/2008 : “The Channel Tunnel, Eurostar, Channel Tunnel High Speed Rail Link and Thameslink were all projects initiated and implemented by Conservative Governments – as were the Jubilee Line Extension, the Docklands Light Railway and the Croydon Tramlink.”
Now, I’m practically certain Gilesy gets CCHQ talking points sent to him, which he immediately spouts on ChiswickW4.com. Notably, the order of the projects is identical here. kennite and Gilesy are both wrong about rail investment, of course, and indeed kennite’s comment on 21st March 2008 that ‘When it reopens, the East London Line will be run as a private concession’ directly contradicts his earlier assertion – the ELLX is, whatever way you cut it, a Labour investment in London rail lines. So is kennite only one person, or just inconsistent across a mere 24 comments?
What do we conclude? The most damning evidence is probably kennite’s silence – the comments on Dave’s post are hugely negative towards Gilligan/kennite, yet the only reply is Gilligan’s unconvincing protestations about kennite being his mysterious ‘partner’. If, however, they really are two people, why didn’t both appear to claim independent status and show up their accusers? They could, say, post simultaneously from two different IPs and challenge Dave Hill to check the logs. That’s what I’d do – back in my university days myself and a group of friends frequented online role playing games, usually from a row of computers with similar IPs. We occasionally got accused of ‘multiplaying’ – having multiple characters under single control – an allegation that was usually defeated by getting everyone to send a cheerful message to the accuser simultaneously. If they could do this relatively trivial thing, I’m sure the subsequent grovelling apology from Dave Hill would play very well in the Standard. Instead, kennite has completely vanished and Gilligan is using the Evening Standard’s bandwidth to pursue a vendetta against ‘anti-Boris bloggers’. This behaviour is completely consistent with a busted sock-puppeter. Sock-puppeting, however, is hard to give up, which is why we need to be vigilant for any bus-crazed, Ken-obsessed, obnoxious twerps, either anonymous or under pseudonyms, here and elsewhere. Whoever ‘kennite’ was, he’s still around somewhere, and whatever issues he has are doubtless unaddressed by medical science. Stay safe out there, guys.
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