Is this the next candidate to be axed for their online insults?

On Friday the new and traditional media were full of the tale of Stuart MacLennan, whose foul tirades led to his removal as the Labour parliamentary candidate for Moray. Amongst those leading the calls for his removal were the head on the Conservative’s press office, Henry Macrory and the Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who described the remarks as “pretty appalling“.

So you might wonder what the Conservative hierarchy might think of a candidate who posted this:

The blog is the work of Watford Conservative campaigner and council candidate, Chris Hawes. Not that Chris Hawes has the greatest judgement: he also described Watford’s disgraced former parliamentary candidate Ian Oakley as “fantastic and hilarious”. I am sure that most people who have had their homes and cars vandalised, been sent foul abuse and hard core porn in the post and had leaflets accusing them of violence and child abuse find it hilarious too.

So what do Messrs Cameron and Macrory think of these comments? Pretty appalling, I’d say. Should he step down? Certainly.

Before Stuart MacLennan stepped down as a Labour candidate, Conservative blogger Iain Dale condemned Labour’s inaction, saying “I suspect if [MacLennan] had been a Tory candidate Labour would have led the calls for his dismissal”. So Iain, will you lead the calls for Chris Hawes’ removal?

UPDATE: Chris Hawes has stepped down as a Conservative candidate.

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This entry was posted in News and Online politics.


  • Amusingly, Cameron has also called for a ban on the loss leading of alcohol sales. It is official Tory policy. Presumably Horrid Henry believes Dave is an authoritarian, um, person too.

  • Matthew might like to remind us which government it was that enacted the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, which created a single A3 use class, thereby enabling breweries to convert town centre cafes into mega-pubs without the need for planning permission. Well, he doesn’t have to, really, because the date is a giveaway. The T&CP(UC)O was the mechanism that allowed town centres to be swamped by licensed premises, greatly to the profits of the big breweries, all or almost all of whom are enthusiastic supporters of the Conservative Partyy – the party that exists for no other reason than to promote the interests of the mega-rich.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Apr '10 - 1:32pm

    So basically the idea of limiting alcohol sales is only acceptable to you if it comes from a Tory, and not from their opponents.

    I think that’s pretty informative.

  • Matthew, on the contrary, I have pointed to the fact that it was the 1987 Thatcher government that facilitated the swamping of town centres with licensed premises, as part of its so-called deregulation drive (which also included the City). Whether or not drunken rowdyism in town centres was an intended consequnece, I am not in a position to say. The motive, clearly, was to boost the profits of the Tories’ friends in the brewing industry, or to increase low-paid unskilled employment in that sector, however one wishes to look at it. I have omitted to respond to your attribution of a noble motive to a Tory and a base motive to a Liberal Democrat for taking similar actions, because I don’t really need to point to the fact that you are speaking from a narrowly partisan position. That should be obvious to everyone.

  • @Martin Chris Hawes is standing for the Leavesden ward of Three Rivers Council, which is part of the Watford constituency.

  • Matthew, here is another debating technique with which you may be familiar – it is known colloquially as “putting words in one’s opponents mouth” (see, you don’t have to be an intellectual to know it).

    (1) I didn’t say that the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 was the cause of drunken rowdiness in town centres. I said it was the mechanism that facilitated the swamping of town centres with licensed premises.

    (2) Which “consensus” are you talking about? A “consensus” is merely an opinion held by a class of people. Can you identify these people? Or are you hoping that readers will be too dim to spot another familiar debating technique?

    (3) My own experience, both in local government, and as a member of the public, is that drunken rowdiness was very much an issue prior to 2003. Maybe you are too young to recall the summer of 1988 when tabloids screamed headlines to the effect that British town centres were awash with booze on Saturday nights, that the nation’s youth was out-of-control, that Aylesbury was the epicentre of alcoholic iniquity, and that curfews and conscription were required to deal with the problem. Similar moral panics have filled summer column inches in the intervening years, most of them before 2003. Like the late Mervyn Griffiths-Jones QC, I cannot claim to have added up correctly the number of times planning chiefs have told residents they are powerless to stop a harmless town centre cafe being turned into a super-pub, but all of them all of them were before 2003.

    Sorry to put the dampers on a nice little propaganda trick. Actually, I’m not sorry at all.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Apr '10 - 5:44pm

    I made a clear distinction between offering a coherent programme intended to address problems people have identified arising from the 2003 Licensing Act, and grabbing a cheap headline by telling a licensing conference you’d fix minimum prices.

    Which is just a thinly disguised claim that exactly the same action should be interpreted differently depending on who did it. That’s special pleading.

    You then attempted to excuse this by handwaving about some unspecified “programme” in response to some unspecified problems, and claiming that you have heard one from Cameron but not from Clegg – as if which policies you have personally seen, in regards to whatever issue this is, somehow changes the meaning of their actions.

    The way that you have, in four posts, failed to explain what issue you are handwaving about – well, that makes it obvious that your purpose here is to campaign for the Tories, truth be damned.

    It’s not even a very well thought out attempt. I could simply pick a random article – – and claim that since I haven’t read any Tory policies on alcohol licensing (which I haven’t, not having the slightest interest in the subject), by your logic Cameron is just “grabbing a cheap headline”. Of course, that’s just reductio ad absurdum.

    For those who are more interested in reality: Clegg is simply repeating his backing for the recommendation of Sir Liam Donaldson (Chief Medical Officer for England) that there should be a minimum price for alcohol by volume, in order to block supermarkets from using it as a loss leader (and effectively people with alcohol problems via higher prices elsewhere in the store). And it took me about five minutes to find that out.

  • Re the article (rather than the below-the-line argument):

    This ‘Miss! Miss! He said a naughty word Miss!’ whining is a whole lot more disagreeable than the original comment.

  • Matthew:

    “generally cited” by WHOM? And HOW OFTEN is”far less frequently”?

    “Under Labour’s lax licensing regime, drink fuelled violence and disorder are out of control.” (Conservative Manifesto)

    Naughty Mr Cameron, who (apparently) suffers from short memory syndrome.

    The Murdoch and Rothermere press were screaming just this kind of lazy, hyperbolic, emotionally charged rhetorical bunkum as long ago as 1988, though it is only recently that they have been dishonest and partisan enough to blame it on Labour (previoulsy it was the moral failings of young people, long hair, sex on TV, the ending of National Service, etc). People have more disposable income than they did 30 years ago, and a binge drinking culture, which has always been with us (inside the Bullingdon Club and out), has focused on town centre super-pubs, where varying numbers of people get (very visibly) blotto on Saturday nights. I baulk at having to defend the Labour Party, but Cameron’s attack is scurrilous – and attention-misdirecting.

    I am amused to be told that I won’t allow anyone to attack Liberal Democrats on this site (as though I have the power to stop them). This will bring smiles to those who have felt the wrong end of my pen over the years.

  • Seems like the Conservatives are suffering from the same kind of amnesia on deregulating licensing as they have about the effects of deregulating building societies and allowing them to demutualise. Northern Rock, Halifax, Bradford & Bingley: not a pretty roll call.

    The fact is, the Conservatives bow down and worship the free and untrammelled market but then fail to see the consequences of their idolatry.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Apr '10 - 10:16pm

    As for unspecified problems, I suggest you speak to Sesenco, who sets out his perception of specified problems which he says predate the 2003 Act.

    As to unspecified programmes, the link you provide dispatches your own argument, setting out, as it does, a series of policies in this area, what you might almost…a programme.

    So you do not, in fact, have a point to make of your own. Instead you vaguely talk around the subject, and when somebody else says something relevant, you claim that is your point.

    You are, in short, a troll.


  • @Matthew Taylor (MTPT)
    Nonsense. Cameron made some noise about banning promotions and taxing alcopops during a photo opportunity in front of a police station in the North East.
    The Liberal Democrats have had a policy paper for some years now.
    You are either misinformed or willfully ignoring the facts.

  • Matthew, I sat on two planning committees for four years. This was in the 1990s, when breweries, seeing their sector contract, were abandoning low-throughput neighbourhood pubs and swamping town centres with “super-pubs” (that is what they were called). Every time a planning application was submitted to turn a cafe into a super-pub, planning officers’ advice was that permission for change of use was not required, but it was possible to refuse if we didn’t like the proposed shopfront, but the Planning Inspector would take the view that noise and disturbance is something inherent to an A3 use. This doesn’t happen so much these days, because the licensed premises are already there and have been since the early 1990s. I fail to see how longer opening hours make much difference, but I am willing to be persuaded by evidence to the contrary.

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