Wednesday 26th October 2016                 Change text size:

A decade of Conservative party speeches disappear from the internet

UK Department for International Development via flickr

The Conservative party has been accused of deleting a decade’s worth of pre-election speeches from the internet – including many that promised action on climate change and other environmental issues.

The tech website Computer Weekly reported on Wednesday that the party had erased all records of speeches and press releases from the years 2000 to 2010 – not just from its own website, but from the Internet Archive itself.

Mark Ballard of Computer Weekly said this move was “as alarming as sending Men in Black to strip history books from a public library and burn them in the car park.” 

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace described the act as “extraordinary”.

“It’s like a criminal trying to remove their fingerprints”, said Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen. 

“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 [energy companies] instead.”

She added, “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.” 

A Conservative spokesperson only said that the move was undertaken to make sure their website “keeps the Conservative party at the forefront of political campaigning.

They added, “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.” 

In response, Greenpeace has re-uploaded some of the speeches Osborne made on green issues.

Among the current chancellor’s pre-election statements are, “We cannot afford not to go green”, and “The Treasury needs to be at the heart of this historic fight against climate change. If we form the next government, it will.

In 2009, Osborne also said, “It is a significant benefit of green taxes that they can be kept stable, and thus do not risk fluctuations in the marginal costs that could increase the total costs of mitigation policy.”

More recently, Osborne has offered tax breaks to the fracking industry, despite fears over its environmental impact, and said that the UK should not lead efforts to prevent climate change. 

A recent report by a coalition of campaigners, Greenpeace, RSPB and the Wildlife Trust, said that the Conservatives had “delayed the decision to set a decarbonisation target […] while pursuing gas intensive [strategies], and raising unrealistic expectations that fracking will bring UK energy prices down.”

This is despite David Cameron’s post-election pledge to lead “the greenest government ever.

Further reading:

Conservatism and conservation: why Tories are born to be green

Coalition’s green fatigue is a ‘betrayal of conservatism itself’

‘Sceptical’ politicians and financial crisis both factors in UK climate lethargy

Cameron’s keynote speech criticised by social enterprises and environmentalists

George Osborne: UK should not lead climate change fight

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