The Mail on Sunday previewed some of the excesses of the government’s efforts to combat disinformation contained in a report from Big Brother Watch. They even called in the military.
The revelations shed light on the state’s free speech interventions – including the Army’s shadowy 77th Brigade, tasked with combatting disinformation. Instead of focussing on propaganda coming from Russia or China, the government kept tabs on its critics and those sceptical of lockdowns. David Davis, Peter Hitchens and Julia Hartley-Brewer were amongst those monitored – hardly pressing threats to national security.
A whistleblower from the 77th Brigade quoted in the report added:
“It was about domestic perception, not national security. By being so fixed on the wrong targets, 77x became more akin to a tool for bad information than an antidote to it… It seemed to me that the government geared the counter-disinformation operation not to serving and protecting citizens, but to serving their own careers and influence.”
Peter Hitchens had warned about censorship of his online content. It seems he may have had a point…
There are at least four further Whitehall arms dedicated to social media monitoring:
All of this state social media spying doesn’t come cheap. Big Brother Watch identified £2.3 million in contracts for the CDU, £2.5 million in contracts and £1.3 million in staffing for the RRU and an annual budget of over £6 million for the Intelligence and Communications Unit. This doesn’t include a staggering £65,000,000 in RICU contracts for social media monitoring and PR campaigns…
Peter Hitchens was filmed being chased out of Oxford by a mob of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday in the most nonchalant way imaginable. Twitter has had a lot of fun with the video…
Peter Hitchens Stayin Alive pic.twitter.com/oTy1SJhBmb— David O Riordan (@Davidporiordan) June 18, 2020
Peter Hitchens (this is England remix) pic.twitter.com/EPCwPY0sG3— Gareth Milner (@sw1a0aa) June 17, 2020
Peter Hitchens v The Verve pic.twitter.com/6tAoCPNFBI— 𝕊𝕀ℝ 𝔸ℝℕ𝕆𝕃𝔻 ℝ𝕆𝔹𝕀ℕ𝕊𝕆ℕ (@uk_expat) June 17, 2020
I added the Darth Vader Imperial March to this video and its glorious 😂 pic.twitter.com/M831H3tfAL— Peg-lin 💓 (@Peg_lin1) June 18, 2020
How to deal with protesters in style…
They got on famously…
Having spotted his hero he, of course, asked him for an autograph.
The not-at-all-bonkers Hitchens produced a grubby biro from his pocket, apologised for not having a fountain pen and proceeded to sign, just as he reached the letter “H” the Hitch said “I think I owe you an apology”. He immediately stops and asks “Why?”
As the Hitch recounts
“I’m the one who called himself Peter Hitchens on the Guido blog.” His chin hits his chest, a look of righteous indignation spread across his face followed by the screwing up of the autograph and his saying “In that case you aren’t having my autograph.”
I proffered my apology saying that as soon as I realised not-at-all-bonkers Hitchens had been hurt by my homage, I stopped doing it, this apparently wasn’t enough for the committed Christian. A frank exchange of views was then exchanged. Despite having told him it had all been in good spirit, Hitchens replied “If you really believe that then you are an even bigger aperture than you look”. To which I then retorted with a sub-Wildean flourish “And you are even more of a pompous w****r than I ever imagined, and you have a fat arse, now f*** off!”
The Hitch reports that his not-at-all-bonkers namesake then did just that, affording him a fine view of the Hitchens posterior as he wandered off a broken man. The Hitch is a disappointed, autograph-less man this morning…
See also the infamous blog post Peter Hitchens Stalking The Hitch
The Hitch is funnier of course. Like you imagine the original would be like if he hit the bottle harder, swore more and was a little less restrained – a Viz version of the original. The demo outside the Mail’s offices complaining about the parody Hitchens’ blog still ranks as one of the most amusing moments in left-wing, po-faced protestor stupidty. Hitchens crying to Iain Dale about his suffering made Guido laugh as well.
Incidentally, some months ago Peter Hitchens’ producer contacted Guido to assist with his upcoming docu-turnover of Cameron. The producer talked an unbearable amount of bollocks about how it was going to be a fair and balanced portrayal of Cameron. Guido said he’d be happy to discuss Dave over a bottle or two with Peter (trans. not bloody wasting time with the dreary media studies graduate who makes Hitchens’ tea). Have heard nothing since.
First Hitchens complained to Yahoo that the Hitch was using the name Peter Hitchens in his Yahoo mail address. The complaint resulted in Yahoo removing his service. So he simply re-registered as therealpeterhitchens@… Then Guido got a phone call from the Hitch – “Peter Hitchens has just cycled up my drive”.
On his blog he elaborates –
I didn’t answer the door for a few reasons.
1, He didn’t ring the bell
2, I was wearing nothing other than my underwear
3, I thought “Fucking no way is that Peter Hitchens”
Having put a pair of pants on and gone to the door he was gone, If he hadn’t I would have invited him in. I have to say I admire his balls for doing it, the man has made a career out of touring some of the scariest places on earth and confronting far nastier folk than your humble blog host.
This “Hitch” admires the other “Hitch” but thinks he is a bit up himself and should lighten up, having said that , as long as he keeps threatening me he can fuck off and I will ratchet this up as high as he likes.