A man with Asperger’s Syndrome has spoken of his shock at being told by an MP that he should maintain a dignified silence on political matters lest he "create problems" for himself.
Guto Bebb, the Conservative MP for Aberconwy, Wales, made the astonishing comments within emails to Dylan Barlow after the constituent enquired about foreign affairs matters.
“If you have mental health issues then you should possibly refrain from commenting in the public domain since it might create problems for you,” Mr Bebb advised.
He also knocked Mr Barlow’s Asperger’s as a “sob story”.
The two began wrangling over emails after Mr Barlow asked about “Danish military involvement in the Faroe Islands”.
Mr Bebb took umbrage with some previous comments made by Mr Barlow on social media and so refused to take up the query.
Mr Bebb also said “Oh behave” twice to his constituent during the dialogue – a purported exchange which has been posted in its entirety online, Mr Barlow says.
“We live in an age of free speech and for a politician to believe otherwise, goes to show the problems we face in our daily struggle,” 27-year-old Mr Barlow said.
Mr Bebb stood by his comments, telling the Daily Mirror: “If Dylan claims that some of his online comments should be understood in the context of his mental health issues then I think it was a generous piece of advice for him to think twice before he posts such comments.
“I do have a close family history of mental health issues and find the idea that I would be derogatory of such an illness highly offensive.”
He also added to The Independent: “It is very disappointing that the local Labour candidate is seeking to make political capital out of a constituent who has mental health/learning difficulties, who has had a long and difficult history with this office.
“Due to confidentiality issues in the MP/constituent relationship I am unable to offer any further comment.”
Mary Wimbury, the Labour candidate Aberconwy, told her twitter followers last night: “I differ from Guto Bebb not just on politics. I think MPs should treat constituents with respect not discrimination.
“Well, @GutoBebb really knows how to keep me motivated to beat him. There's a reason they call them the nasty party.”
Mr Barlow took to twitter to say that he has Asperger’s, depression, anxiety, ADHD and dyslexia.