Conservative Party 'Cash Gordon' campaign was designed by US anti-healthcare lobbyists

On the day the US Congress passed legislation providing health coverage to 32 million Americans without insurance, Political Scrapbook can reveal the Conservatives’ Cash Gordon campaign was developed by an anti-healthcare lobbyist described as “Karl Rove 2.0”.

Writing on the Blue Blog yesterday, the affable Sam Coates claimed that Conservatives’ campaign site against Labour/Unite links was “built in just a few days”. What he doesn’t tell you is that the system has been purchased off-the-shelf from Republican strategists David All Group and was originally developed to galvanise opposition to Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms.

Cash Gordon is based on Operation Waiting Game, which leverages social media against reforms which, it is claimed, “will have the same devastating effects in the United States as it has in Canada and in nations across Europe: longer wait times and lower quality care”.

In an embarrassment for CCHQ, the party’s flagship campaign is currently hosted alongside those attempting to “rescue America from government-run health care”, including and Hands Off.  Another site rails against homosexuals in the armed forces, stating the military “should not be used as a tool to advance the goals of gay activist groups”.

One wonders what the “few days” spent creating Cash Gordon were used for. As the graphic below shows (click to enlarge), the much vaunted site is almost identical to The initiative from the right-wing Heritage Foundation aims to scupper carbon trading legislation designed to combat climate change. Funders of the foundation include a host of corporate special interests such as oil giants Chevron Texaco and Exxon Mobil.

Spot the difference: "Cash Gordon" and "No Energy Tax" campaigns compared

Contrived to herd visitors through a linear series of actions, Cash Gordon rewards users with a system redolent of primary school merit points. Once you’ve read Michael Gove’s bonkers “new militant tendency” speech (described by the FT as “lazy politics”) you receive a gold sticker – oh sorry –  25 points. Helping to bombard Charlie Whelan with hectoring tweets (straight out of the #kerryout playbook) gets you 20 points.

But perhaps the biggest indictment of the campaign is the level of engagement achieved in relation to its cost. With a $15,000 pricetag, the web platform makes Cash Gordon the most expensive few web pages in UK politics – and it gets worse. At the time of writing, links to have been tweeted 241 times. That’s a shocking £41 per tweet. Even widening the net to every single mention of #cashgordon by the general public brings this down to a bargain basement price of, erm, £15.50.

Attacking Labour’s union links: £15 per tweet.
Recycling an anti-healthcare web platform: priceless!

Many thanks: to Steve Hanlon for his invaluable help.