Labour Party Website Banned From Internet Search [updated]

If you're a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.

A couple of days ago I was intrigued to see a piece on Skwawkbox about possible blocking of Labour Party pages from internet search engines due to the inclusion of the noindex and nofollow meta tags which effectively blocks search engines from indexing that page’s content making it seem invisible to the web. These tags exist solely for that purpose.

labour-code-source-extract_1338x166
Above: An extract of the source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review. The complete source can viewed at the page itself or here.

The content on the Labour website is part of The Labour Party Democracy Review and is an open invitation directed at Labour Party members to participate in the future of the political party

“If you’re a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.”

Therefore its exclusion from internet searches is to the obvious detriment of possible change. It could also be said that any such restriction could be considered a direct attack on Jeremy Corbyn himself and his desire for inclusivity.

As it concerned what I thought at the time to be no more than a misplaced meta tag, possibly the result of a sloppy cut and paste operation by some inexperienced intern, it didn’t concern me as anything overtly sinister.

However that was a couple of days ago and despite a number of contacts made to certain individuals, departments and businesses with responsibility for such things – both by Skwawkbox and domestic empire, the offending search-restrictive content remains conspicuously unchanged.

Update: Skwawkbox contact with Labour HQ.

Labour’s HQ confirmed that the tag was not accidental and referred to emails that had been sent to members with a link to provide their input to the review – but this begs the question of why bother putting the page on the site at all if you’re going to hide it?

Now the situation has become murkier with confirmation to this blog by a leader’s office (LOTO) source that neither Corbyn nor his office had given approval for the noindex measure:

“We absolutely did not sanction that tag or anything else that would limit the number of people participating. On the contrary, we want input from as many people as possible so we get the benefit of everyone’s perspective.”

Although strangely absent from their portfolio the company responsible for creating the Labour Party website is Wide Eye Creative, based in Washington USA:

“..purpose-driven creative digital agency that empowers organizations, campaigns, and causes.”

I contacted them and its man in charge Ben Ostrower altering them both to this error in markup that was resulting in a negative impact for their client. Two days later I’m still awaiting their reply and removal of said meta tag. But regrettably they seem more interested in discussing Star Wars and somewhat ironically, Net Neutrality.

Wide Eye Creative & Ben Ostrower tweets

Normally one would expect such coding errors to be fixed immediately upon receipt of notification along with a cheery, ‘Thank you’, for spotting such a glaring error that might have otherwise caused public embarrassment – so why the stalling?

I don’t wish to launch into full conspiracy-mode, but the lack of action surrounding this simple code change, or even to acknowledge its existence is cause for some concern.

At the time of writing the errant meta tags that effectively ban The Labour Party Democracy Review from being seen remain in situ.

Links:
The Labour Party Democracy Review
View source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Download source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Why has Labour HQ blocked Democracy Review page from search engines?
Excl: LOTO – ‘we did not sanction hiding Democracy Review page from search engines’
Google: Block search indexing with ‘noindex’

Updated 18th December 2017: Skwawkbox obtain reply from Labour.
Updated 16th December 2017: to better illustrate source code.

Advertisements

Conservative’s Plans Will Damage Public Services and UK Economy

“Today’s Institute for Fiscal Studies assessment of the Conservatives is clear: their plans would damage our economy and public services. They also confirm that the Tories have not specified any additional funding for the NHS, meaning a continued crisis in our health service if they are re-elected next month. The Tories plans on schools will mean continuing to sell away our future, with continued real terms cuts to per pupil spending.

The only numbers we saw in the Tory manifesto were the page numbers. But what has become clear today is the choice at this election – continued austerity and falling living standards under the Tories, or higher wages and increased investment in our public services and infrastructure under Labour.”

“What has become clear today is the choice at this election – continued austerity and falling living standards under the Tories, or higher wages and increased investment in our public services and infrastructure under Labour.”

via Jeremy Corbyn for PM
Institute for Fiscal Studies report.

Here’s What Strong and Stable Actually Looks Like

Jeremy Corbyn’s Election Leaflets Show How He Has Campaigned On The Same Issues Since 1983

An historic archive of Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign leaflets, provided to BuzzFeed News by the University of Bristol, reveals how the Labour leader is fighting the 2017 general election on the same issues he cared about in 1983.

In 1983, Jeremy Corbyn stood for parliament for the very first time.

Jeremy Corbyn stood for parliament for the very first time (1983)

“I believe an MP must stand up and be counted when required; that is why I voted against the Iraq War and have always stood to protect Civil Liberties.” (2005)

Many more examples via Jim Waterson’s BuzzFeed News article here.

15 Examples Jeremy Corbyn On Correct Side Of History

Jeremy Corbyn

1. Apartheid: Jeremy was a staunch opponent of the Apartheid regime and a supporter of Nelson Mandela and the ANC. He was even arrested for protesting outside the South African embassy in 1984.

2. Chile:
Jeremy was an opponent of the brutal dictator Pinochet (an ally of the British government under Thatcher) and was a leading campaigner in the quest to bring him to justice. In 1998 Pinochet was arrested in London.

3. LGBT rights:
As noted in Pink News, Jeremy was an early champion of LGBT rights. At a time when the Tories decried supporting LGBT rights as ‘loony left’, Jeremy voted against section 28 which sought to demonise same-sex relationships.

4. The Miners’ Strike:
Jeremy went against the Labour leadership and fully supported the miners in their effort to prevent the total destruction of their industry and communities. Cabinet papers released last year prove that the NUM were correct to claim that there was a secret hit list of 75 pits which the government were determined to close within 3 years. Ex-mining areas still suffer from the devastating effects of de-industrialisation, particularly high unemployment.

5. Iraq:
In the 1970s and 1980s, while the UK and other Western government were selling weapons to their ally Saddam Hussein, Jeremy campaigned and demonstrated against it, as well as protesting against the mass killings of Iraqi Kurds by Saddam’s regime.

6. Birmingham Six and Guildford Four:
Jeremy was involved in the campaigns in support of the victims of these appalling miscarriages of justice. The wrongful convictions were eventually quashed.

7. Talking to Sinn Fein:
 In the 1980s, along with Tony Benn and other Labour MPs, Jeremy drew intense criticism for engaging in dialogue with Sinn Fein and inviting its representatives to the House of Commons. The government claimed it ‘would not talk to terrorists’ but we now know that by 1989, it was secretly engaged in talks. Sinn Fein has been a major party of the Northern Ireland government since 1998 and even the Queen and Prince Charles have now met with its leading figures.

8. Tuition fees:
Jeremy opposed New Labour’s introduction of university tuition fees, which explicitly broke Labour’s 1997 election manifesto pledge, as well as all of the subsequent increases. Fees were then trebled under New Labour before being trebled again by the coalition government, leaving the average student in £53k of debt.

9. Private Finance Initiative (PFI):
Jeremy argued against this method of funding the building of new schools and hospitals, which was used partly because New Labour had committed itself to Tory spending plans. Instead of financing projects through government borrowing, private finance would build the infrastructure and then lease to the government. PFI deals cost the taxpayer £10bn a year and we will end up paying more than £300bn for assets worth just £54.7bn.

10. Afghanistan:
Going against the tide of political and public opinion in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Jeremy opposed the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001. By 2009, most polls showed a majority of British people were against the war and Britain eventually withdrew its troops in October 2014.

11. Iraq, again:
Jeremy saw through the ‘dodgy dossier’, the claims of weapons of mass destruction and campaigned and voted against the Iraq war in 2003. In doing so, he helped to organise the biggest demonstration in British history and remains a leading figure in the Stop the War Coalition.

12. Palestine:
Jeremy has been a long-standing campaigner for the rights of the Palestinian people, beginning his advocacy at a time when Western public opinion was largely hostile to the Palestinian cause. Last year parliament overwhelmingly voted to recognise Palestine.

13. Public ownership of the railways:
Jeremy has always advocated public ownership of our railways. The argument that privatisation would result in competition and thus lower fares has been proved to be entirely incorrect. Instead not only have fares rocketed year on year but the British taxpayer now subsidies the railways to the tune of £4bn a year, around four times the cost of  the previous, publicly owned system.

14. Trident:
 Jeremy has been a long-term campaigner in CND, and has always opposed Britain having nuclear weapons – a difficult argument to make at the height of the Cold War. But now virtually all the polling evidence shows that a majority of people are against spending £100bn on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons.

15. Austerity:
Right from the beginning Jeremy argued and campaigned against austerity. Despite inheriting a situation where the economy was growing, Osborne’s austerity budgets plunged the UK into a double dip recession in April 2012 and by February 2013 Britain lost its AAA credit rating for the first time since the late 1970s. Five years of austerity later and the UK’s debt has actually risen from £1trn in 2010 to around £1.5trn today. The social cost has been shocking, leading to a rise in child poverty, an unprecedented fall in real wages and nearly 1 million people now reliant on food banks to name but a few of the dire consequences.

Source: The World Turned Upside Down: Radical thinking from the North East
15 times when Jeremy Corbyn was on the right side of history

//