Has Twitter ended this man’s political career?

Update: Labour candidate sacked after a series of foul-mouthed tweets.

It looks like a Labour candidate has committed political harakiri on Twitter. Stuart MacLennan, the PPC for Moray, posted a series of offensive tweets on the site and the Tories and the SNP are calling for his head.

Here's a screen shot of one of them, containing MacLennan's unfortunate reference to "slave-grown" bananas. Paul Waugh has some more.

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Elsewhere, he describes pensioners as "coffin-dodgers", calls a fellow train passenger the "ugliest old boot I've ever seen" and makes liberal use of the c-word.

Given that his Twitter followers included Sarah Brown, Ed Balls and Ben Bradshaw, you might have thought that MacLennan would make more of an effort to stay on-message.

This isn't the first time that a Labour figure has fallen foul of Twitter, of course. David Wright MP was forced to apologise after he described the Tories as "scum-sucking pigs" and hasn't tweeted since.

It's a reminder that the risks of new media for political parties are sometimes as great as the opportunities. As the Labour blogger Luke Akehurst has pointed out: "One ill-considered email, tweet, blog post or Facebook status upset by a candidate or campaigner can provide a lot of ammo for the old-fashioned media to shred a party's campaign with."

At a time when all the parties are on the lookout for online (and offline) gaffes by their rivals, it's time for candidates to learn that they can't say on Twitter what they wouldn't say on Newsnight or Today.

UPDATE: I've just heard that MacLennan has been sacked as the party's candidate. Twitter has claimed its first political scalp.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Benn vs McDonnell: how Brexit has exposed the fight over Labour's party machine

In the wake of Brexit, should Labour MPs listen more closely to voters, or their own party members?

Two Labour MPs on primetime TV. Two prominent politicians ruling themselves out of a Labour leadership contest. But that was as far as the similarity went.

Hilary Benn was speaking hours after he resigned - or was sacked - from the Shadow Cabinet. He described Jeremy Corbyn as a "good and decent man" but not a leader.

Framing his overnight removal as a matter of conscience, Benn told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I no longer have confidence in him [Corbyn] and I think the right thing to do would be for him to take that decision."

In Benn's view, diehard leftie pin ups do not go down well in the real world, or on the ballot papers of middle England. 

But while Benn may be drawing on a New Labour truism, this in turn rests on the assumption that voters matter more than the party members when it comes to winning elections.

That assumption was contested moments later by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Dismissive of the personal appeal of Shadow Cabinet ministers - "we can replace them" - McDonnell's message was that Labour under Corbyn had rejuvenated its electoral machine.

Pointing to success in by-elections and the London mayoral election, McDonnell warned would-be rebels: "Who is sovereign in our party? The people who are soverign are the party members. 

"I'm saying respect the party members. And in that way we can hold together and win the next election."

Indeed, nearly a year on from Corbyn's surprise election to the Labour leadership, it is worth remembering he captured nearly 60% of the 400,000 votes cast. Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed in the wake of his success, now has more than 50 branches around the country.

Come the next election, it will be these grassroots members who will knock on doors, hand out leaflets and perhaps even threaten to deselect MPs.

The question for wavering Labour MPs will be whether what they trust more - their own connection with voters, or this potentially unbiddable party machine.