Earlier in the election campaign the Conservatives and the Telegraph worked up a story suggesting business leaders from across Britain had grouped together and thrown their weight behind the Conservatives in the form of a letter to the Telegraph.
Of course the letter was written by the Conservatives, not 100 business leaders, and many of the business leaders who were asked to put their names to it had very close ties to the party – including a number of Tory peers. It really told us nothing more than Conservative supporters, donors, party members and peers will be voting Conservative in May, though the Telegraph tried to work it up into something more significant than that.
See: Tory supporters want Tory government, shocker
Now they’re at it again. This time the Conservative party has corralled 5,000 supporters who it claims are “small business owners” into putting their names to yet another “exclusive letter to the Telegraph“, written by the Tories and handed over to the Telegraph to publish.
And again the Telegraph has played ball and is reporting this as a significant front page news story. The paper suggests the Conservative PR stunt is a “boost for David Cameron” (as all Conservative PR stunts are surely meant to be) and calls it “a major intervention” as though it was in any way spontaneous, unexpected or independent.
UPDATE: The problems with this contrived list/non-story don’t end there. Alex Andreou has done a great job of aggregating many of the issues which have been highlighted throughout Monday, from the large number of duplicates on the list to the fact a great many signatories clearly aren’t really small business owners, including waiters, PAs, charity workers, office assistants, office managers and even some retired people. The list also includes one Conservative club and a handful of Conservative candidates. (Read Andreou’s full dissection of the list here). Clearly nobody at the Telegraph checked the list of names before publishing – they just did what they were told – nor did the Conservative party PR person who handed them the copy to publish.