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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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.