By your clicks shall ye be known – the self-immolation of Gavin Barwell MP


Thanks to the Guardian for this…

Conservative MPGavin Barwell thought he was exposing a particularly shameless piece of political moneyspinning when he clicked on a link tweeted by Labour and found a press release accompanied by an advert saying “date Arab girls”.

He wasted no time firing off a tweet to the party’s press team and shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan, saying:

“I know Labour are short of cash but having an invitation to ‘date Arab girls’ at top of your press release?”

However, what seemed like an easy strike might have turned into a something of an own goal.

The press team’s reply began “oh dear”, followed by a link to an explanation of how Google Adsense functions – that is, based on the preferences of a web user.

The description on the Google website reads: “You may come across such ads when you’re viewing a website, video, or app on Google’s display network.

“In addition to seeing ads based on your interests, you may also see ads based on the types of sites you visit, whether you +1 something, and more.”

The story was running on the LabourList website, a blog devoted to centre-left issues, which claimed that when its writers accessed the same press release they were greeted by an advert for a Samsung mobile phone.

The advert was posted alongside the line: “Oops…Barwell got a far more interesting advert than LabourList did.”

Barwell stayed silent as other Twitter users expressed their amusement at his misfiring attack.

Jon Mundy wrote: “Oh – this is glorious, @GavinBarwellMP’s browser history comes back to bite him.”

James O’Flynn was similarly entertained, observing: “This did make me chuckle.

“Be careful before you question how appropriate an advert on a webpage is.”

The original press release, posted on TwitLonger, was an attack on Michael Gove, claiming the education secretary was failing to provide enough school places for children.

It included a quote from Brennan calling on the government to “address the crisis in school places they have created”.

Adverts featured above and below the short release, apparently tailored to the viewer’s preferences.

The original link was tweeted by @labourpress on March 14, with Barwell’s jibe following the same day.

The press team hit back the next day, with the MP for Croydon central staying unusually quiet.

However, a dating advert appeared to be fixed below the advert even when the page was accessed from different computers – though the enticement to date Arab girls was absent.

While there is no evidence Barwell, the party’s former chief operating officer, spends his spare time sifting through dating sites, he has previously revealed wide interests as a fan of rappers Public Enemy, author Joan Collins and soap opera Dynasty.

He previously made headlines with a Twitter post after discovering that thieves had stripped metal from a memorial on his father’s grave, writing that if he caught the culprits, they would “regret it”.

However, this time Barwell seemed content to walk away and has tweeted about other events – such as a visit by Caterham School students to Westminster Cathedral.

Checked your google ads recently?

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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