Thursday, 14 November 2013

Deleting Political History - what would Shirley Bassey say?

As Dame Shirley Bassey once said 'it's all just a little bit of history deleting' (okay, she didn't say quite that...) but this bit of deletion seems to have got Labour and the Conservatives into hot water. News that both of the major parties have deleted their website archive of speeches going back into the last administration is hardly surprising, but it sends worrying messages about the way our politics works.

Clearly, rather than having their own words spouted back at them, Labour and the Conservatives would rather try and pretend it never happened. 'An end to boom and bust' - gone. 'We cannot afford it' - Cameron on tax thresholds - all forgotten. The problem I have, is that deleting these things online suggests that nobody will remember any of it. It smacks of the fact that many people in positions of power seem to think the general public is stupid. If it isn't in black and white, it can't be proven and it didn't happen.

It's all wrong*.

I'm a great believer in political record. I campaign on my political record and my electoral chances live or die by it. People know what I'm for and what I'm against, and if they don't agree, they don't have to vote for me. The danger here, is that political records are being deleted as we speak - in the case of the Tories, they're also being wiped from search engines. If political records don't exist, how can we be properly informed?

My feeling is, whatever they try, they can't hide from the British public. I will never forget that Labour took us to war every couple of years. I will never forget Section 28, or the continued vilification of single parent families. Neither do the public when they cast their votes (or, indeed, stay at home).

My message is simple. Build your record, stand by it, and fight. As Delia would say, 'Let's be 'avin you.' If you need to constantly redesign your own record and rewrite your own history, it's no surprise that people have trouble trusting you. All parties will have to do a lot more than deleting web pages before many people trust them again.

* Images are different. I withhold the right to delete awkward pictures of myself, including anything with me accidentally photobombing and that one where I went to that party as Amy Winehouse.

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