Hats off to Marcus Brown at The Kaiser’s Toilet blog for this brilliant bit of sleuthing, uncovering the fact that someone in Conservative Central Office has the job of spying on every single mention of “David Cameron” on Twitter. No sooner had Brown posted a link to his latest blogpost than some poor intern from the CCHQ blog police descended to monitor what he had said about their Dave. His site stats (below) clearly show their use of Twitter search in this way:
What an awful job. How depressing. How glum that must be. I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. And every time my initial tweet gets retweeted, well, they keep coming back. May be they have to by some central office decree – may be they have been ordered to click on every link that is remotely connected to the two words: David and Cameron. – Marcus Brown
Just how paranoid are CCHQ?
This insight into Tory tactics online comes in the same week their reputation for a “hands off” approach with right wing bloggers took a serious knock. Accusations of party office meddling have been a consistent line of attack from Conservatives ever since Labour’s failed dalliance with central control.
Left Foot Forward were among a number of sites covering Tory blogger’s boozy hospitality on the Ashcroft dollar. Within minutes of publication, a piece on Eric Pickles’ briefing to the Tories’ online army was subjected to a barrage of critical comments by a veritable “who’s who” of Conservative blogging. Figures including Iain Dale, Tory Bear, Steve Green, Tory Rascal, Francesca Preece, Einy Shah, Man in a Shed, Mike Rouse, Steven Adams, David Breaker and Ollie Cromwell all logged on to vent spleen. So who could be responsible for co-ordinating this conspicuous and rather clumsy rebuttal operation by bloggers who – to a man – were all on the guest list for the briefing referred to in the Left Foot Forward piece?
Scrapbook can confirm that this effort was led by CCHQ, with online chief Sam Coates sending an email to all invitees, pointing them in the direction of the offending blogpost.* Embarassingly enough Coates wrote in November that “the real strength of the centre-right blogosphere up to now has not been in working together or toeing lines”. Oh, dear!
In the words of one Tory blogger this week:
“It’s really obvious when you try to coordinate attacks quite so unsubtly.”
*No, not the fake one that was sent to various lefties (nice try).