One of my photos

Slight embarrassment for Smith and Maude

January 26th, 2011 · Posted by Skuds in Politics/Technology · 1 Comment · Politics, Technology

There is an amusing story in The Register today.  The headline is Tory MP accidentally endorses… German pr0n site and it is all about the old website for the Pease Pottage hospital campaign.

What happened was that the registration for the domain name for the campaign ( was allowed to lapse and it was hijacked by porn-related Germans.  Unfortunately Henry Smith and Francis Maude still had links to that domain on their various websites.  No doubt there are more sites that link to it.  I have probably linked to it myself at some point in the past, so it will be in my archives somewhere.

The Register enquired to Maude’s office about it and the link disappeared from his website.  All quite understandable, and nothing more than a bit of mischief by The Register.  There are a couple of interesting things about it though.Firstly, if Francis Maude’s office is to be believed, it was a deliberate decision to allow the domain name to lapse.  According to WHOIS the domain was re-registered by something called Extreme Proxy in San Jose on December 22nd so the dubious content could have been there from that date until today – about a month.   (It is not there now though, so don’t bother looking.  It has mysteriously disappeared.)

This raises some questions.  If you knew the domain name was being dropped by you and would then either point at nothing, an error page, or content you have absolutely no control over, why not check your own websites for links to it?  A better move would be to fork out the few quid it costs to keep a site registered?  That would be normal, sensible practice.  It is a natural oversight, and an easy mistake to make  – the only problem is that Francis Maude is supposed to be on top of these things: isn’t he in charge of the government’s IT strategies?

If he can’t keep his own little websites in order you have to worry a bit about the multimillion pound IT contracts he is responsible for on our behalf.

Of more local interest will be the question of why the domain was allowed to lapse.

Had Maude and Smith decided, before December, that the campaign was over?  Mission complete?   Only if the mission was to get Henry Smith elected – not if the mission was (as the name suggests) to get a hospital built at Pease Pottage.   That looks like it has failed miserably as all the signs point at North Horsham instead.  I don’t think a ‘Campaign for North Horsham Hospital’ would have gone down quite as well with the Crawley electorate.

I while back I was trying to get information about the original detailed plans seven-page outline of the proposed Pease Pottage hospital and had trouble finding it on that site because it wasn’t there.

I have noticed how the langauge used to describe the proposed hospital has been gradually evolving from “a new Crawley hospital” to “a new hospital for Crawley” to “a new hospital for the Crawley area” to “a new hospital for the Crawley and Horsham area” to “a new hospital for Horsham”.  Was it just too much of an embarrassment to have a website that clearly reminded everybody of what was being promised at the beginning?

Might it be that Smith and Maude found the risk of accidentally linking to German porn sites to be less embarrassing than reminders of what they had been promising the voters of Crawley?  Letting it lapse means less chance of us coming across old press cuttings of Henry Smith talking about how bad it is that you can no longer be born within Crawley’s borders as a justification for a new howpital which turns out to be well outside Crawley’s borders perhaps?

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Richard W.

    “Had Maude and Smith decided, before December, that the campaign was over? Mission complete?”

    That’s how I read it – they ‘played us’.

    The Tories are very good at winning elections.They ‘put it about’ that a hospital might be built, by setting up the c4pph. So many holes it would make a string vest, but it didn’t matter – the idea had been planted in the minds of the Crawley voter.

    And the electorate fell for it. Smith wins the election. Job done.

    I thought I could see a political con at 500 yards in bad light, but it was only after the election victory when it dawned on me that I had been duped big time.

    The astonishing thing is that they will probably try the same Con trick in the May local elections – promising a hospital again…and we might well fall for it again !