If someone publically told you to shut up and called you a “dick” and a “fool”, would you feel that person was treating you with respect?
Most people would say not, and when it comes to standards boards, the rulings tend to agree. Perfectly OK to say someone’s idea is foolish, but not to call them a fool.
So how to explain a blog post by James Cleverly, who sits on the London Assembly as a Conservative?
Titled “Oh do shut up Simon“, Mr Cleverly lays into Simon Hughes who, it’s safe to say, he doesn’t quite see eye to eye with. He says “it doesn’t stop me thinking that Simon Hughes is a dick” and calls him a “fool” on the blog he writes as a London Assembly member.
And yet the Assembly’s code of conduct clearly states “you must treat others with respect”.
Will Mr Cleverly find himself in front of the standards board (or whatever succeeds it)? Time will tell. MPs can get away with it outside the Chamber, but elected councillors and assembly members play a dangerous game when they let fly with the personal insults, and a considered blog post can hardly be excused as a heat-of-the moment outburst.
Update: It’s been brought to my attention that James Cleverly is no stranger to dicks, having referred to James Whale in that way on his blog a year ago.
On this occasion, Cleverly has apologised if any offence was caused and admitted that name calling is a bit childish.