Andy McSmith's Diary: Nastiness among Thanet councillors has gone too far

What happened after a Tory councillor in Kent turned on his party reflects badly on his colleagues
  • @andymcsmith

Conservative councillors in Thanet, in Kent, were understandably annoyed when one of their number, John Worrow, left them to become an independent, and used his vote to help Labour to take over the council. However, that is hardly an adequate explanation for what the locals there have been saying about each other.

Under new leadership, Thanet council became the first in the country to declare its support for same-sex marriage, which is in line with government policy, but not with the gut feelings of much of the Tory party. Roger Gale, Conservative MP for Thanet North, has suggested on his blog that to remove the words "husband and wife" from official documents would be "almost Stalinist in its political correctness" and asked: "Will Shakespeare and Milton and the Holy Bible be re-written also?"

At least that comment was not offensive –unlike a remark that appeared on the Facebook page of Mike Harrison, a Thanet Labour councillor, describing Ian Driver, the independent who moved the resolution supporting same-sex marriage, as a "shirt-lifting gender-bender." Harrison denies writing it. He says that his account was hacked.

Meanwhile, over on a website run by John Worrow on behalf of the independents, a woman involved in a local residents' association was charmingly described as a "pig monster". Mr Worrow denied being the author of these words, but said they had been written by someone he trusts, but whom he refused to identify to the Thanet Times. He apologised and had the words removed.

Then Mr Worrow, who is bisexual, complained to the police after he had received a message on his voicemail, in a voice he thought he recognised, telling him "with any luck, you'll get Aids".

Ken Gregory, a senior Tory councillor, has been cautioned by police "for offences of malicious communication".

Meaningful gifts for Cameron

Prominent on the list of gifts David Cameron received during the last quarter of last year, recently posted on the Downing Street website, is a "collection of books" from the historian Sir Martin Gilbert. This is likely to be a deluxe edition of Gilbert's seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill, the same gift that Gordon Brown gave to Barack Obama when he visited the US three years ago. Cameron was obviously appreciative: it was one of only three items in the list that the Camerons decided to pay for and keep. The others were a set of coffee machines from Nestlé, and clothes donated by the Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, which caught Sam Cam's eye.

Volatile MP's sober advice

It is a shame that the MP Eric Joyce will be remembered only for the evening that he lashed out with his fists in one of Parliament's subsidised bars. When sober, he can be a source of sage advice. There was this message he sent yesterday to a fellow member of what is sometimes called the Twitter community: "You Follow all MPs? You must have THE most boring Timeline ever. Try to find time to live a little."

Afghanistan: the good old days

Former Doctor Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson slipped in a caustic comment about the use of drones in Afghanistan last week at the launch of his book, Looking Back at Me, published by Cadiz Music. Wilko followed the hippy trail through Afghanistan and India in the 1970s. On stage at Rough Trade East in London's East End, he remarked: "We were dirty hippies and stoned most of the time – but we never massacred any wedding parties! I think it will be a long time before an Englishman can go through Afghanistan again and get stoned with the locals."

Dull and Boring join forces

The Community Planning Organisation of Boring, a town of 12,000 inhabitants near Portland, Oregon, named after its founder William H. Boring, met yesterday to formalise a decision to link up with Dull, a village in Perthshire, with just 84 residents. The idea of linking the two came from Elizabeth Leighton, who knows Dull residents as she lives in a village nearby, and met Boring people during a cycling holiday.