Conservatives spin out of control as endorsement discovered to be PR trick
The UK Conservative Party has found itself caught in a PR tailspin as a letter signed by some 5,000 businesses claiming to back the party appears to have come from their own campaign headquarters.
In an election that has been dominated by letter-writing campaigns splashed across newspapers, the story that thousands of small companies had spontaneously signed a letter praising David Cameron and his party's economic plans was seen as a major boom for the Conservatives.
The letter, published exclusively in the Daily Telegraph, however appears to have been orchestrated by entrepreneur and Apprentice so-host Karren Brady.
Eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted that the data attached to the PDF file posted on the Telegraph’s website shows the letter was authored by “CCHQ-Admin”, which is the Conservative Party’s campaign headquarters.
The Conservatives appear to have forgotten to strip out the evidence they packaged the story.
Labour supporters claim the letter, which warns that a change of government would be “far too risky” for business, was featured for weeks on a members’ section of the Tory website, as Ms Brady sought signatures.
As well as appearing as a petition on the Conservative website, the letter was sent out as an email to people who had signed up to receive the party's General Election campaign updates.
It seems that these names were collated into an Excel document that, almost a fortnight after the email formed the basis of the Telegraph front page.
The story that thousands of small company bosses had sign a letter praising the Tories' economic plans and warning that Labour would 'undo' progress of recovery was seen as a major boom for the Conservatives weeks ahead from what is likely to be one of the closes UK elections in decades.
However, already at least one company has requested their name be taken off the list, claiming they had not signed the letter.
While some Twitter users discovered that a number of the companies on the list do not exist.