LONDON (Reuters) - Labour fired a parliamentary candidate on Friday over offensive comments he posted on Twitter, embarrassing Prime Minister Gordon Brown ahead of next month’s election.
Stuart MacLennan, candidate for the Scottish constituency of Moray, posted profanity-laced comments about Labour and opposition politicians, celebrities and local people on the online micro-blogging service.
“A candidate has made a mistake. It’s unacceptable. That candidate has got to resign ... We cannot have people standing as candidates for the Labour Party who express these views,” Brown told reporters during a campaign stop.
“That candidate will not be a candidate for the Labour Party,” he added.
A Scottish Labour Party spokesman said MacLennan had been sacked as Labour candidate for Moray “for the totally unacceptable language which he has expressed online.”
“On reading the comments in full, the Scottish Labour Party was outraged by their content and Scottish Labour’s General Secretary took the decision to suspend his membership of the Labour Party,” he said.
MacLennan is the first casualty of the campaign for the May 6 election which Brown launched on Tuesday.
It is embarrassing for Brown who represents a constituency in Scotland, a Labour stronghold, and shows the downside of politicians’ increasing use of the Internet to win support.
Labour acted to cut short the scandal minutes after the Conservatives attacked Labour for failing to dismiss MacLennan.
The Conservatives tried to link the episode to concerns about political sleaze raised by scandals over extravagant parliamentary expenses and lobbyists.
“Stuart MacLennan’s comments are highly offensive, especially to ethnic minorities, elderly people and women,” said Sayeeda Warsi, Conservative social action spokeswoman.
“The party was told yesterday about MacLennan’s behaviour but incredibly they have allowed him to remain a parliamentary candidate.
“How can Gordon Brown claim to be cleaning up politics when he has failed to act against this man? Once again his moral compass looks distinctly broken,” she said.
Reporting by Adrian Croft, Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison