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.
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.