The UK Conservative Party appears to have had a gutsful of smart arse reporters quoting the promises and statements at the past back at it.
For a while now if you wanted to find out how many promises and statements the UK Conservatives had broken since it had become a government, all you had to do was visit its website. There you could find that all the things that they moaned about the Labour Government doing they have been doing themselves since they took office.
Now a sharp eyed hack at Computer Weekly has noticed that the Tories have solved that problem by just deleting the database. Unlike George Orwell’s 1984, where politicians just retrospectively edit history, the Tories have decided that a full deletion is needed.
The Conservative Party has attempted to erase a 10-year backlog of speeches from the internet, including pledges for a new kind of transparent politics the prime minister and chancellor made when they were campaigning for election.
One of the things that hacks remember though is that Prime Minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne campaigned on a promise to democratise information held by those in power, so people could hold them to account. They wanted to use the internet to transform politics.
Instead they have removed the archive from its public facing website, erasing records of speeches and press releases going back to the year 2000 and up until it was elected in May 2010.
But they also made an effort to delete the record of their past speeches off internet engines including Google, which had been a role model for Cameron and Osborne’s “open source politics”.
Also gone are the speeches from the Internet Archive, the public record of the net.
Sometime after 5 October, when Computer Weekly took a snapshot of a Conservative speech from the Internet Archive, the Tory speech and news archive was eradicated. To make matters even harder for researching hacks, the Tories posted a robot blocker on their website, which told search engines and the Internet Archive they were no longer permitted to keep a record of the Conservative Party web archive.
When Computer Weekly asked the Tories what they were playing at, the spokeman referred them to the “computer guy” who happened to be out of the office. We are not sure if he has been erased too, just to make sure that the story does not get out.