Why Labour’s Twitter twit had to go

Candidates need to learn that they can’t say on Twitter what they wouldn’t say in public.

So Twitter has claimed its first political scalp. Once the Labour candidate Stuart MacLennan's abusive tweets were uncovered today, his position looked untenable to me.

Strangely, less than half an hour before he was removed, the Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, was still insisting that MacLennan would remain the party's candidate for Moray and was fighting off Tory and SNP calls for his head. But clearly once Labour high command realised the extent of the abuse, there was no chance of Murphy winning the argument.

Some commenters on my earlier post disagreed with me when I suggested that candidates should learn that they can't say on Twitter what they wouldn't say on Newsnight or Today.

By this I don't mean that they should adopt the same tone or manner, but rather that they should approach everything they say and write as if it's designed for public consumption. In the case of Twitter, where tweets can be viewed by non-followers, it's hard to think of a more public medium.

With this in mind, it's hard to see how someone who describes pensioners as "coffin-dodgers" and jokes about "slave-grown" bananas could ever hope to represent the public in parliament.

But MacLennan is nothing if not prophetic. On 6 April he tweeted: "Iain Dale reckons the biggest gaffes will be made by candidates on Twitter -- what are the odds that it will be me?"

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.