I’m mostly up to date on streaming Daisy Jones and the Six, and season three of Ted Lasso is two days away. So I need to find something to amuse myself with as I idle away the last hours of the Labour Day long weekend.
So I have decided to do some idle speculations on the identity of the author(s) of Real Freedom News, the insider blog which has been annoying the devotees of the Victorian Liberal Party since early 2021.
Let’s start by saying that it is not me. I quite like John Pessuto, the current state opposition leader, who has come in for some minor flak from that blog. I also have, without fear or favour, been openly (and hopefully clearly and wittily) critical of such luminaries as Michael O’Brien, Matthew Guy, and apprentice neurosurgeon Tim Smith in equal measure. Plus I am not interested hiding my opinions and much prefer to let people know what I think of them without using a pseudonym. Hence I stand by the opinions I write from time to time in this blog which is in my own name.
To say nothing of the fact that I am an outsider, not an insider, and do not have access to the intimate and gory details of the internal workings of the Victorian Liberal Party which, up til last November, were being dragged out for all to see like a traitor’s entrails.
The best methodology to use to try and unmask the author of that blog is to ask two questions: Cuis Scit (who knows) and Cui Bono (who benefits). [Given that I spent some 4 years and $4000 trying to learn Latin at the Centre for Adult Education, you might sympathise as to why I throw the odd Latin phrase into my blogging.]
Let us start with Cuis Scit. The RFN blog reveals considerable information about social media pages, the machinations of both the state Administrative Committee and the various other local and state governance bodies, and many of the personalities (including some ad hominem attacks which can be considered either defamatory or very funny depending on your perspective).
The RFN blogger is obviously involved at a relatively senior or highly active level, which probably reduces the number of possible suspects to members of Admin Committee, State Assembly, State Electoral Council executives, and state MPs and their employees. From 11,000 or so nominal members of the state Liberals, this reduces the number of suspects to three or four hundred people.
That is quite a lot of people. You can then eliminate more, if you are an insider and know who is privy to what information, by looking at the omissions. For example, if someone has access to one damaging fact, which is published, but does not have access to another fact, which is not published, then you can eliminate those insiders who had access to both damaging facts.
I don’t know enough to know that sort of detail, but I would be very confident that the senior people studying the RFN blog’s content would have formed up a profile (much as the experts who profile serial killers) of people who might have access to some information in some circumstances but not to all of it.
Then we get to the next question: Cui Bono? This is where you can really start to eliminate suspects, and where the fun really starts. The easy way to do this is to look and see who DOES NOT get attacked.
Anyone on the Michael O’Brien side of the previous leadership rivalry can be eliminated, as they were all attacked. Even sad little Bernie Finn got described as ‘bonkers’ in a very funny attack – all because he had tied his colours to the O’Brien mast so whole heartedly.
John Pessuto and his supporters are out as well – RFN implied in at least one post that he had sympathies to Communist China.
So we then turn to the Matthew Guy side. At the time that Guy was able to return as opposition leader a not so glorious second time, RFN posted a photo of several of the key numbers people who had helped to overthrow O’Brien, triumphantly (and probably without irony) proclaiming them as ‘Heroes of the Revolution’.
That is where you start looking for suspects. I observe that praise for Matthew Guy disappeared from RFN when he cut his staunch supporter and drinking buddy Tim Smith loose after the latter put his new Jaguar through the living room of a house in his electorate after a few too many glasses of fine wine. Instead, Guy was excoriated for having shown disloyalty to his erstwhile friend. That eliminates the Guy camp.
So my theory is that the author of the RFN blog is someone close to Tim Smith. The blog disappeared shortly before the November 2022 State Election – probably because something which so many might consider disloyal would be considered especially so in the heat of an election campaign, and maybe, just maybe, because people close to Tim Smith still thought that he could make a comeback right up til nominations closed.
As a further wrinkle – I believe that the authors of the RFN blog are the same people who previously were sending out spam emails to likeminded people under the heading ‘Concerned Liberals Committee’. Those emails ceased, and their contents were added to the RFN website on its creation.
I know that I was getting the Concerned Liberals Committee emails from at least the second one, although as I had to retrieve them from my spam filter, I am not exactly sure when they started. The question I have is to where that ‘Committee’ got my email address from? I did subscribe to an email newsletter by a somewhat controversial identity active in the Liberal Party just before the lockdowns got going, but never seem to have been added to his newsletter. His website is still up, although requires some digging to strike gold, but he seems to have expressed sympathy for Tim Smith and hostility to similar people as the RFN blog did, so whilst I don’t think he did it, I think I know from where the ‘Concerned Liberals’ got my email address.
All of this reminds me of the great Australian political journalist Alan Reid. He used to describe leaks as ‘small p politics’ – something which was motivated by personal gain or acrimony rather than by principles. He built his career in the 1950s and 60s, when Labor were busy using small p politics to tear themselves apart.