Diary: Chairman Shapps is making a bit of a tweet of himself

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The Independent Online

Ruth Robinson, whoever she is, must be very proud. She has set up a Twitter account, has not yet tweeted but she has one follower – not just any follower, a Cabinet minister.

There is also someone called Ash Cloke who is in exactly the same position. She has too never tweeted, but she has a follower, and it is the same follower. He is the newly elevated Chairman of the Conservative Party, Grant Shapps.

Mr Shapps is an avid tweeter, who proudly announced this week that his follower count had passed 57,000. He follows all kinds of people, some of whom have tweeted. Daniel Smith, for example, has compiled three tweets, although he has only one follower to read them, namely Grant Shapps. Maiten Cornejo has tweeted twice. Her first simply said "Justin Bieber".

The second announced in Spanish that she was taking communion in her room. Nico Zeeman tweets only in Dutch and Kayla in Polish. Mr Shapps follows them all.

In July, the Political Scrapbook website alleged that Mr Shapps was artificially boosting his Twitter following by using a bot which randomly picks feeds for him to follow, hoping they will return the compliment by following him. After a while, the bot unfollows them. There are people out there who claim to have been unfollowed by Grant Shapps as many as four times. It was an outrageous suggestion. Obviously, in the midst of his many ministerial duties, Mr Shapps personally chooses each interesting Twitter account that he follows.

Follies of youth should not be a barrier

Yet another would-be candidate has fallen victim to the ridiculous rule that no one who has ever been convicted of an imprisonable offence, no matter how long ago, can run for any of the new regional Police Commissioner jobs.

This rule eliminated Bob Ashford, who seemed highly qualified to be a Labour candidate in Bristol until it emerged that he copped a £5 fine in 1966, when he was 13. A second Labour candidate had to pull out over an offence committed 47 years ago.

Last week, Mike Quigley, former leader of Bassetlaw Council, and would-be Tory candidate for the post of Nottinghamshire Police Commissioner, announced that he too was out of contention because of a "minor offence" committed 44 years ago. He did not say at the time what the offence was, but has now revealed to the Nottingham Post that he was convicted of smashing a window while celebrating his 21st birthday, though he could not remember doing it. It was that sort of an evening.

Undeserved abuse from Down Under

Grahame Morris, the low profile left-wing Labour MP for Easington, has been getting some undeserved abuse this week. This is because an Australian politician, Tony Abbott, was subjected to a tough television interview by a woman journalist, Leigh Sales, who was then denounced by Grahame Morris for behaving like "a real cow". But the Grahame Morris who used that offensive term, is a political strategist for the Australian Liberal Party. Nothing to do with Grahame Morris from County Durham.

Dinosaur George has lost a lot of Respect

George Galloway's jurassic views on rape have cost his Respect Party whatever chance they had of making an impact on the impending by-election in Manchester Central, where the sitting MP has pulled out because he is running for Police Commissioner.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of CND, was to be Respect's candidate until she announced "with a heavy heart" yesterday that she has resigned because the remarks by Galloway offend her principles. She was the second person put up as Respect Party candidate in that by-election. They will have to scrape around to find a third.

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