Tories attempt to erase internet record of speeches made prior to 2010 election
The Conservatives have attempted to erase from the internet a record of all party speeches given in the decade before they came to power, it has been reported.
Computer Weekly said the party had not only removed its archive of speeches and press releases from 2000 to its election in May 2010 from its own website, it had also struck them from the record of search engines such as Google.
The party was said to have used a robot blocker to force the Internet Archive - described as the public record of the web - to remove the entire record of speeches and news it had collected in 1,158 snapshots from the Conservatives' website since May 1999.
The magazine said: "The erasure had the effect of hiding Conservative speeches in a secretive corner of the internet like those that shelter the military, secret services, gangsters and paedophiles."
Computer Weekly said that since it had raised the issue with the San Francisco-based Internet Archive, some speeches had re-appeared on the site.
A party spokesman said that it wanted to keep its website as easy to use as possible.
"We're making sure our website keeps the Conservative Party at the forefront of political campaigning," the spokesman said in a statement.
"These changes allow people to quickly and easily access the most important information we provide - how we are clearing up Labour's economic mess, taking the difficult decisions and standing up for hardworking people."
However Labour former deputy prime minister, Lord Prescott, accused the Tories of hiding details of past pronouncements so they could not be held to account.
"How do Tories stop being accused of breaking election promises? By DELETING all pre 2010 speeches & press releases!" he wrote on his Twitter feed.
Labour MP Sheila Gilmore said the Conservatives' deletion of their past record was a "cynical stunt" which would not fool voters.
"The Tories are trying to hide from their own broken promises and failed policy. Rather than owning up to the mess they're making of the economy and fixing it, they are pretending it hasn't happened," she said.
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace posted some of the deleted Conservative speeches on its own website, including promises from Chancellor George Osborne that under his leadership the Treasury would be "a green ally, not a foe".
Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said: "This is an extraordinary move by the Government to erase history - it's like a criminal trying to remove their fingerprints.
"What these speeches show is that the Tories once agreed that going green would mean lower bills for hard-pressed families over time and a safer planet. But since being in power, they've broken their promises and chosen to side with the Big Six instead.
"Osborne is now running a concerted campaign to do away with green policies across the board. He'd do well to read back his old speeches - they helped win votes because acting on climate change and cleaning up our energy system matters to people."