More than one of Paul Nuttall's autobiographical claims - or as he would have it, biographical claims - are currently being contested. I'm not surprised, to be honest. But it isn't just UKIP that has the reality of its members' web pages and public claims being under the spotlight. Every political party hosts biographical pages full of 'facts' about its leading lights - and they are all subject to scrutiny in the online age in a way that they previously weren't.
Recently I decided to have a look at Mike Hancock's Wiki page, the claims on it, the relevant references at the foot of the page, and the supposed sources for those claims, and I contacted the NSPCC, Mencap and the Liberal Democrat Party to see what they had to say. They were all aware that I might relate their responses on this Blog. The results were, shall we say, illuminating, and seem to suggest that while Hancock was a Liberal Democrat MP, the Liberal Democrat Party hosted material about him on its website that is easily contestable - and it makes you wonder how much more of this stuff in going on.
Here's Hancock's Wiki page - an exceptionally well-referenced piece - as it existed last month, on 25th January 2017. I'll pick out the relevant bits - you don't need to read it all - it's simply here for completeness and accuracy.
The section that I want to focus on, and its referenced source, is this:
And it's interesting taken in tandem with this:
Just a trigger warning, by the way: if you try to access the Lib Dem official page for Hancock now, you get this little beauty, floating in a sour political soup of irony, about Paul Nuttall.
Anyway ... having often wondered about the Hancock wiki-claim (which according to Wiki was sourced by Lib Dem website) that Hancock had a senior connection to, or with, the NSPCC, I thought I'd contact the organisation to see what its position was on this.
I emailed the NSPCC on the 10th January 2017, and asked: 'Morning. Would you please be able to give me a brief history of Mike Hancock's association with your organisation - dates, positions held, and expenses paid? I'm writing a piece on him and need to make sure my facts are accurate with regards to his position at the NSPCC.'
After a couple more emails (published here) the response was: 'There never has been a 'Southern Region' and we can find no record of Mike Hancock being involved with the charity on that level. The Wikipedia post about Mr Hancock being the chairman of the southern region of the NSPCC is therefore not accurate. Mr Hancock is also not involved with the charity now.'
You can read into that what you want - ('on that level'? 'now'?) but it's clear that the NSPCC's stated position is that the Wiki page about Hancock is not accurate. The source for that wiki-claim is the Liberal Democrat official website.
I contacted the Liberal Democrat Party to see what it had to say about this, and to ask if it could supply a copy of its original Hancock page. The Party, I felt, must surely have a retrievable, saved (cached) version somewhere (you'd have thought). I sent three emails and a number of public tweets to the Lib Dems and the Lib Dem press office. All the tweets and but one of the emails were ignored. This is the only response I received (along with one of my many polite inquiries). (TL:DR - go away.)
Yeah, cheers for that, Liberal Democratic Party. You hosted this stuff for god knows how long, and now it's a case of 'do not reply' and 'deleted' and 'no longer involved'. A bit like Cllr Hunt's 'move on' tweets which reflect so well the - to me - cultish mantra of the Portsmouth Lib Dems.
Well history doesn't work like that. I'll tell you how history works. The writing of history - the narrative that matters - doesn't actually belong to the victor any more. If you believe that crap you're as out of touch as the bunch of imperial golden boys you want to emulate. History is written by the people with the references, with the sources, with the words, with the ability, with the broadband width, and with the fucking empathy. You're not the only ones with the web pages.