Stuart MacLennan wasn’t the first social media victim of Election 2010

Ukip candidate riffs on “Muslim nutters” and “left-wing scum”.

Yesterday we brought you the story of a Labour PPC brought down by inappropriate "tweets". But if this was the first scalp claimed by Twitter in this election, it's certainly not the first time social media have tripped up a prospective parliamentary candidate in recent weeks.

Ukip's Paul Wiffen, who is campaigning to be MP for Ilford South, last week felt the urge to respond to a post critical of his party. The CommunityCare blog had condemned an anti-asylum leaflet emanating from Ukip, something my colleague George Eaton wrote about.

Wiffen's subsequent user comment included the following paragraph:

You left-wing scum are all the same, wanting to hand our birthright to Romanian gypsies who beat their wives and children into begging and stealing money they can gamble with, Muslim nutters who want to kill us and put us all under mediaeval Sharia law, the same Africans who sold their Afro-Caribbean brothers into a slavery that Britain was the first to abolish (but you still want to apologize for!)

Wiffen was duly suspended from his party. But it seems Ukip high command (aka Lord Pearson, one supposes) is more forgiving than Labour. Following an apology from Wiffen, it has now reinstated its candidate.

Stuart MacLennan, who referred to "old boots", "chavs" and "coffin dodgers" while Wiffen was attacking the Africans, wife-beating "Romanian gypsies" and "Muslim nutters", must be a little bemused today.

(Hat tip: Adam Tinworth.)

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Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on the arts in north London on September 1, 2015. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Can Labour MPs force Corbyn to bring back shadow cabinet elections?

It is not up to the parliamentary party whether the contests are reintroduced. 

Soon after Jeremy Corbyn became the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, it was reported that he intended to bring back shadow cabinet elections. But as I later wrote, that's not the case. Corbyn has resolved that he will maintain the right to appoint his own team, rather than having it elected by MPs (as was the case before Ed Miliband changed the system in 2011). As he wrote in the NS: "Whoever emerges as leader on 12 September needs a shadow cabinet in place as soon as possible. I will appoint a strong, diverse shadow cabinet to hold this government to account from day one."

Now, ahead of his likely victory a week on Saturday, Corbyn is under pressure from some MPs to reverse his stance. Barry Sheerman, the former education select commitee chair, told me that he wanted a "serious discussion" within the PLP about the return of the elections. While some support their reinstatement on principled grounds, others recognise that there is a tactical advantage in Corbyn's opponents winning a mandate from MPs. His hand would be further weakened (he has the declared support of just 14 of his Commons colleagues). 

But their reinstatement is not as simple as some suggest. One senior MP told me that those demanding their return "had not read the rule book". Miliband's decision to scrap the elections was subsequently approved at party conference meaning that only this body can revive them. A simple majority of MPs is not enough. 

With Corbyn planning to have a new team in place as soon as possible after his election, there is little prospect of him proposing such upheaval at this point. Meanwhile, Chuka Umunna has attracted much attention by refusing to rule out joining the left-winger's shadow cabinet if he changes his stances on nuclear disarmament, Nato, the EU and taxation (a lengthy list). Umunna is unlikely to remain on the frontbench but having previously pledged not to serve, he now recognises that there is value in being seen to at least engage with Corbyn. Were he to simply adopt a stance of aggression, he would risk being blamed if the backbencher failed. It is one example of how the party's modernisers recognise they need to play a smarter game. I explore this subject further in my column in tomorrow's NS

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.