Well yesterday wasn’t exactly a high point in British politics was it? Byers et al suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party and bringing politics into disrepute just as I thought it was beginning to turn a corner. I’ll be writing more on that later. Yesterday also gave us another Tory campaign triumph balls up.
The Tories launched over last weekend a new website and Facebook group to carry on their theme of Trade Union links to the Labour party (founded by, er, the trade unions, but we’ll skip that for now). It’s a nice looking site. Nobody would blame you for being impressed with the site. It’s a step up on their usual rubbish. There was some nice integration between the website and facebook, and it encouraged supporter action of a sort. That’s probably where alarm bells should’ve started ringing really. When did CCHQ ever attempt to mobilise anybody other than their blogging attack dogs?
It was Political Scrapbook who brilliantly produced the information that the Tory website had been produced by US Republican strategists David All Group, and is hosted alongside anti-healthcare reform and anti-homosexuality sites, among others. Sam Coates, CCHQ’s internet campaign head, proudly exclaims in his blogpost introducing the campaign that the website was
Built in just a few days
Sounds impressive doesn’t it? I’ve built websites before and it can be tricky. Takes time to get a nice slick design and interface. And it does look slick:
But then you look at other sites hosted on the same server and see this one protesting against a US energy tax aimed at reducing carbon emissions:
Once you’ve seen the two, you start to wonder just why the hell it took Sam Coates and his staff a few days to get their site up and running. “It’s obvious,” I hear you shout. “The few days would be to set up security and moderating to avoid any hacking.”
Well, you’d think so wouldn’t you? Turns out it was more likely spent playing mahjong on a laptop, or maybe Farmville as they’re such big Facebook fans at CCHQ. Either way, it wasn’t security and moderating they were setting up. As part of the design of their website, they decided to have live feed of all tweets with the #cashgordon hash tag. Then Coates bragged about how he was
Sitting back and marvelling at #CashGordon – we had an open hash tag policy, and have not changed that today, for a reason!
Of course, once people realised that whatever they wrote with that hash tag appeared on the tory website, they unleashed much mischief. First it was insults, then it was automatic redirects to websites, then it was a rickroll, lemonparty, and goatse in quick succession. If you don’t know what those things are, you’ve lived a good and pure life thus far. Well done to you. Now go look them up on the urban dictionary and laugh a lot. Goatse was the final straw, and the site was taken down “for maintenance” at that point.