The Tories must have been overjoyed at the sight of so many small business folk putting their names to another of those letters supporting them: this morning’s Telegraph tells “Exclusive letter to The Telegraph from 5,000 small business owners who helped to get the economy moving again … ‘Businesses like ours have helped to create 1,000 jobs a day since 2010. We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky’”.
How CCHQ must have enjoyed reading that headline - especially as CCHQ was the source of the story. You think I jest? Go back to April 10, and the deeply subversive Guardian was already on the case, telling readers “Karren Brady calls on small businesses to sign letter saying Labour is 'too risky’”.
Yes, Ms Brady had been soliciting signatures to that letter for weeks, and so well-known was the tactic that it had found its way to the one paper the Tories would rather it did not. The letter, it was revealed, said “This Conservative-led government has been genuinely committed to making sure Britain is open for business … We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years”.
All of which is, more or less, what is on the front page of the Tel today. It gets worse: such has been the amateurish approach of the remaining hacks at Buckingham Palace Road that, when the underlying pdf file of signatories is examined, it reveals that the Author is, er, “CCHQ-Admin”. Partisan reporting is one thing, but this is ridiculous.
Could it get worse still? It certainly could: as Political Scrapbook has discovered, from an analysis of just the first fifty signatories, there are several who do not own a business. And the bad news just keeps on coming: Aurum Solutions have told the Tel “Our Sales Director did not sign the letter in support of the Conservative Party. Please remove signatory 413 immediately”. And there may have been a Data Protection Act breach, too!
To put the lid on it, those poring over this supposedly exclusive surprise splash - that just happened to be in the Guardian a fortnight ago - are now realising that, as CCHQ solicited the signatories and put the information together, it is highly likely that all those who signed are at the very least Conservative Party supporters, and probably party members too. So this is another example of news that is not really news.
[UPDATE 1430 hours: there were, as a Zelo Street reader has pointed out to me, 5.2 million small and micro-sized businesses in the UK in 2014.
So CCHQ has managed to secure the endorsement of less than one-tenth of one per cent of these. That, in case anyone has not had their memory jogged, is the percentage of taxpayers who have positively endorsed the so-called Taxpayers' Alliance, which is regarded as an Astroturf organisation.
It gets worse: one look at the comments for this post will show that many of those endorsing the Tories are either not real, functioning businesses - or may not be the most ideal of signatories.
On top of all that, the Telegraph has now removed the document from its website which contained the incriminating paw-prints of CCHQ. Bit late now, chaps]