Labour candidate dropped for offensive remarks on Twitter

Stuart MacLennan called old people 'coffin dodgers' and lambasted Labour MPs

A Labour candidate has become the first to be sacked for comments made on the stream-of-consciousness social networking site Twitter, after he was found to have made a series of rants joking about slavery, attacking the elderly and even lambasting Labour MPs.

Stuart MacLennan, who had been standing in the Moray seat, north-east Scotland, was fired after he was found to have used the site to describe old people as "coffin dodgers". In an ill-advised quip about bananas, he wrote: "God this fair-trade, organic banana is shit. Can I have a slave-grown, chemically enhanced, genetically modified one please?"

In a series of posts scattered with four-letter words, he attacked the Commons Speaker John Bercow ("tit"), David Cameron ("twat"), Nick Clegg ("a bastard") and the Labour backbencher Diane Abbot ("a fucking idiot"). The X-Factor judge Louis Walsh received the C-word treatment and the identical-twin cabaret act Jedward were dismissed as "odious little shits". His dislike for the Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini was stronger still, although there appeared to be sympathy from fellow members of the online community on this point.

Somewhat presciently, Mr MacLennan also pondered in one online posting: "Iain Dale [a Conservative blogger] reckons the biggest gaffes will be made by candidates on Twitter – what are the odds that it will be me?"

The Labour Party initially attempted to play down the comments, with a spokesman saying: "Stuart has been foolish." Mr MacLennan also issued a hastily composed statement: "I have let myself down and am really sorry." But after anger at his comments increased, including criticism from Labour members, he was fired by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy. Gordon Brown, in Scotland yesterday campaigning, denounced Mr MacLennan's online activity. "It's wrong. He shouldn't have said these things," he said. "He'll go as a candidate. I made a decision immediately."

All parties had feared that sites such as Twitter and Facebook, the first of which did not even exist at the 2005 election, would trip up some of their candidates during the campaign. But Labour has encouraged its MPs to use Twitter, while their Tory counterparts have been less forthcoming on the micro-blogging site.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour's official "Twitter tsar", said that, despite Mr MacLennan's downfall, most MPs were still too cautious in their tweets, rather than too forward. "There's no way that you can control it and there will always be one or two people who do not have the political judgement to use it properly," she said. "But the greater problem is getting MPs to engage and communicate with the public on the site, rather than simply tweeting that they are out campaigning."

Labour hopes that acting quickly to dismiss Mr MacLennan will heap further pressure on the Tories to reprimand the shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, who has been recorded questioning gay rights.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent