It was supposed to display how the modern Conservative Party could harness
the power of the internet. Instead, the Tories’ latest attempt to engage the web
backfired spectacularly.

Over the weekend the party launched the “Cash Gordon” website as part of an
internet campaign to highlight links between the Prime Minister and Unite, the
trade union behind the recent strikes by British Airways cabin crew. The Tories
invited the public to contribute to the effort through the social-networking
websites Facebook and Twitter.

By this morning, however, the website had been flooded with mocking and
abusive messages. Eventually, hackers infiltrated the page so that visitors to
Cash Gordon were redirected to the Labour Party website, porn sites and an
infamous video of Rick Astley singing on YouTube. Within hours, the
Conservatives were forced to take down the site, saying that it was suffering
from “technical problems”.

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