UPDATE: Tim Montgomerie has responded here.
On an interesting day for the political web, with the Tories’ online capabilities shown to be not quite as smart as people thought, it’s also worth pointing out a couple of items that have apparently gone missing over the past few days from the normally excellent and fair ConservativeHome.
Last Sunday, a post was published on the Centre Right section of the blog – a part of the site for which a number of trusted posters have unique logins to publish freely, and without editor moderation – entitled “For the sake of the party and the country, Osborne should resign as shadow chancellor”.
It was written by Ridley Grove, a pseudonym for a regular ConHome contributor and Conservative supporter at a London think tank. It appeared in the PoliticsHome blogfeed, as shown below:
But the post never appeared on ConservativeHome, and the link now directs to a blank page. If you Google the article now, it still appears in the results, but the link fails to direct to the original article, which appears to have been orphaned.
The article read:
“For the sake of the Party and country, Osborne should resign as shadow chancellor”.
“18 months ago I wrote “It is true that Osborne going would produce a difficult 24 hours; maybe even 48 difficult hours. But if Ken Clarke became Shadow Chancellor then those hours would be forgotten as fast as sterling is falling. Clarke would anger die-hard eurosceptics but who believes Cameron plans much eurosceptic action. The appointment of Clarke would not scupper the eurosceptic agenda, because there isn’t one. What Clarke would bring INSTANTLY is economic credibility……In would come the chancellor who left Brown the golden legacy Labour has squandered. Gone would be the Labour smiles, Labour frowns would return.”
The economy is the number one issue in this election and Osborne is still a liability – behind Cable and Darling in all the polls. Cameron can’t sack Osborne, but Osborne can resign. He could say that he is damaging the partys chances and has decided to put the country and party before his own personal ambition. He can say that he is staying on at Camerons insistence. In some ways it will be humiliating for him, but I predict it would enhance him in the long run.
Go now George, you know it makes sense.”
I asked Jonathan Isaby what had happened to the post. He said it was probably half-finished, and that Ridley Grove would likely return to it and publish it within the next couple of days.
Then, last week, a similar thing happened to another post that was seemingly critical of the shadow chancellor, this time written by Tim Montgomerie. Again the post appeared in the PoliticsHome feed, but the link redirected to a hastily produced article about North Korea; the article in its original form never appeared on ConHome.
Tim Montgomerie has said that ConservativeHome will be “more disciplined” ahead of the election; LabourList is also trying to be helpful to the broader cause. But these are interesting specific examples, and it does appear that ConHome is trying to protect the Tories’ shadow chancellor, in particular, from internal criticism.