Last week’s lament that Red Brick would have fewer things to talk about now that Grant Shapps has moved from the Housing job to become Tory Party Chairman is proving to be wrong. First because the new team of Mark Prisk and Nick Boles may be more interesting than we thought – Boles in particular started by making a complete tit of himself as the new Planning Minister trying to explain away his comment that he preferred chaos to planning – more about them in the coming weeks. And secondly because Grant Shapps seems determined to continue to grab our attention.
We were correct to observe that Shapps would be put under more scrutiny in his new role, with most newspapers over the past few days reporting on his busy life on the internet. Last week Google took action against his family companies including HowToCorp.com for allegedly breaching their copyright rules and there has been much fun to be had about his use of aliases. There has also been a lot of comment amongst the twitterati about his use of dubious software to garner many more followers on Twitter than seem justified, partially explaining the mystery as to why tens of thousands of people would want to receive his continuous listings of his own media appearances.
Yesterday the Guardian reported that Grant had been busy editing his own Wikipedia entry without identifying himself, which appears to be against the Wikipedia code. They claim that part of the deleted entry is as follows:
“It was revealed in May 2008 that Grant Shapps, along with other shadow ministers, had taken large donations from companies related to his frontbench portfolio … The revelations were potentially damaging for Shapps given the extent of the donations he had received – tens of thousands of pounds from two online mortgage brokers, an estate agent, a commercial property developer and a firm of solicitors specialising in conveyancing and remortgaging – and the suggestion that these might be influencing Conservative policies.”
They also claim that he added a glowing reference to his own work on homelessness. FACTCHECK: after many years of falling, homelessness has risen substantially during Shapps’ term as Housing Minister.
Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey commented that Shapps gave ‘hubris a bad name.’ For our part, we are only delighted that he continues to amuse and delight us from his lofty new perch.