Trots,  UK Politics

Bob Pitt: Master of (Sock) Puppets?

Funny thing. Whenever Bob Pitt’s name comes up in conversation, it is not uncommon to hear people say “oh yeah, isn’t he the guy that wrote that dossier for Ken Livingstone whitewashing Qaradawi?”. Of course, though challenged in various forums, Pitt has always refused to confirm or deny that he was the author. Unsuprising, I suppose. The work was nothing to be proud of. It was a breathtakingly dishonest piece of propaganda.

Ken claimed he’d written the dossier himself (a fantasical claim), adding that “Input was made by GLA officers in the course of their normal duties.” The significance of this spin will become clear later.

Indeed, anyone who can be bothered to dip into the archives of his blog – Islamophobia-Watch – can be forgiven for thinking it started out as a rough draft of the (former) mayor’s dodgy dossier.

But that’s not what I want to talk about here.

Oh, one more thing… it was always obvious that City Hall employees were used to infiltrate gay groups and smear activists who opposed the embracing of Dr Qaradawi. One case in point was an phantom ‘activist’ who registered on the EuroQueer discussion group – a private group where many influential gay activists, groups and NGOs exchange information and discuss issues. He called himself “George Chicherin”. And he wrote as if he was psychically channelling Bob Pitt. Now, watchers of Stalinist trivia (like Mr Pitt) probably considered it a little in-joke that the phantom’s moniker was borrowed from a Soviet Commissar in the 1920s about whom rumours of homosexuality had circulated. Haha. A little joke on the poofs, eh Bob?

Anyhow, “George Chicherin” didn’t seem to post very much or have any interests beyond attacking Peter Tatchell as an “Islamophobe” and defending Ken Livingstone’s association with Qaradawi. “Chicherin” was also very fond of pasting links to Islamophobia-Watch. Beyond that, no one had ever heard of him.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

Yesterday I was having a coffee at the cafeteria in City Hall and noticed they had an internet terminal. So I checked up on some Harry’s Place threads, and posted a comment while waiting for a client I’d arranged to meet me there. Later I noticed the IP address my comment had come from was the same as several posts from one “Anon” who was – guess what – defending Qaradawi.

That made me remember “George Chicherin”. Lo and behold, Comrade Chicherin had the same IP address as ‘Anon’ and a poster called ‘Eugene’ who once lectured David T on the history of Trots and who shares with Pitt (and ‘Chicherin’, and ‘Anon’ and one ‘Geofrey Brown’) an obsession with defending Qaradawi and other Islamist reactionaries. It’s no surprise then to discover that, “Eugene” has an echo on Comment Is Free called “Eugene Levine”, who implied that Tatchell is a racist, and has defended Livingstone and various Islamists, including Qaradawi.

Funny how these sock-puppets like to choose Jewish-sounding names to head off any charges of anti-Semitism, or masquerade as gay men, to avoid accusations that they’re siding with gay-bashers.

So, you have all these people obsessing about the same topic, pretending to be Jewish, pretending to be Gay, and all based at City Hall, with a mission of attacking Jewish and Gay critics of Qaradawi’s antisemitism and homophobia.

Now here’s where it comes together nicely.

While suspecting it was Pitt, I couldn’t think how he could be doing it after Ken was booted from office by London’s voters (partly in disgust over just these sorts of dirty tricks aimed at people like Peter Tatchell and Trevor Phillips). And then the final piece of the puzzle fell into place.

Thanks to Mrs Ben in the comments, we learn that “Bob Pitt is still ensconced at his desk at City Hall from where he continues to run his Islamophobia website, at taxpayers expense.”  So, Pitt is still in the building!

Now, of course, it is possible that there are many, many people who used to work at City Hall under Livingstone (and who still remain there) with a deep interest in Qaradawi minutiae and an obsession with defending Livingstone’s association with him. It is not necessarily all Bob Pitt and his assorted sock puppets. There are other explanations. This could all be quite circumstantial.

You be the jury, as they say.

Or maybe Bob Pitt himself would like to ‘confirm of deny’ these antics. And why, if his principal job seems to have been in the dirty tricks department, does he still have a desk in City Hall?

While he’s at it, and given the passage of time, perhaps Bob could now fess up about being one of the “GLA officers” who ghost-wrote Ken’s dodgy dossier “in the course of their normal duties”. It is really hard to believe that such an authoritive expert on Qaradawi who happened to be on the GLA payroll wouldn’t have been a key contributor.