Labour PPC suspended for obscene online comments

Has social media claimed its second scalp of the campaign?

It looks like social media may have claimed its second scalp of the campaign. Labour PPC John Cowan has just been suspended as the party's candidate in South East Cambridgeshire after admitting to posting a series of sexually explicit and offensive comments online.

It's rather worrying that alarm bells didn't ring at Labour HQ after he was expelled from the Lib Dems in 2004 for sending "sexual emails".

It's now too late for the party to select a new candidate so this is another piece of good news for the Lib Dems, who will to hope pick up most of the Labour vote in the Tory-held seat.

In the meantime, here are some of Cowan's words of wisdom.

On paying his cleaner cash-in-hand:

Its (sic) a cash in hand job so she does not have any Income Tax or National Insurnace (sic) on it and both her and her boyfriend live on benefits so they are quids in.

On Muslims:

Whilst I would not be happy if my future son or daughter wanted to date a Muslim it would be there (sic) decision at the end of the day.

On his love life:

Why limit it to just one woman? I would prefer one for each day of the week!"

Cowan apparently appealed on one forum for "some people to pose nude for me". As in the case of Stuart MacLennan, the PPC who was suspended over a series of obsence tweets, one despairs that this man was standing for Parliament at all.

What's still remarkable is that neither of the pair thought to go back and erase their digital footprint. But there's still a casual assumption among some candidates that they can get away with saying online what they wouldn't say on Newsnight or on Today. They can't.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Are the Conservatives getting ready to learn to love the EEA?

You can see the shape of the deal that the right would accept. 

In an early morning address aimed half reassuring the markets and half at salvaging his own legacy, George Osborne set out the government’s stall.

The difficulty was that the two halves were hard to reconcile. Talk of “fixing the roof” and getting Britain’s finances in control, an established part of Treasury setpieces under Osborne, are usually merely wrong. With the prospect of further downgrades in Britain’s credit rating and thus its ability to borrow cheaply, the £1.6 trillion that Britain still owes and the country’s deficit in day-to-day spending, they acquired a fresh layer of black humour. It made for uneasy listening.

But more importantly, it offered further signs of what post-Brexit deal the Conservatives will attempt to strike. Boris Johnson, the frontrunner for the Conservative leadership, set out the deal he wants in his Telegraph column: British access to the single market, free movement of British workers within the European Union but border control for workers from the EU within Britain.

There is no chance of that deal – in fact, reading Johnson’s Telegraph column called to mind the exasperated response that Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal and a supporter of a Remain vote, gave upon hearing that one of his players wanted to move to Real Madrid: “It's like you wanting to marry Miss World and she doesn't want you, what can I do about it? I can try to help you, but if she does not want to marry you what can I do?”

But Osborne, who has yet to rule out a bid for the top job and confirmed his intention to serve in the post-Cameron government, hinted at the deal that seems most likely – or, at least, the most optimistic: one that keeps Britain in the single market and therefore protects Britain’s financial services and manufacturing sectors.

For the Conservatives, you can see how such a deal might not prove electorally disastrous – it would allow them to maintain the idea with its own voters that they had voted for greater “sovereignty” while maintaining their easy continental holidays, au pairs and access to the Erasmus scheme.  They might be able to secure a few votes from relieved supporters of Remain who backed the Liberal Democrats or Labour at the last election – but, in any case, you can see how a deal of that kind would be sellable to their coalition of the vote. For Johnson, further disillusionment and anger among the voters of Sunderland, Hull and so on are a price that a Tory government can happily pay – and indeed, has, during both of the Conservatives’ recent long stays in government from 1951 to 1964 and from 1979 to 1997.

It feels unlikely that it will be a price that those Labour voters who backed a Leave vote – or the ethnic and social minorities that may take the blame – can happily pay.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.