Lib Dem PPC resigns over blog comments

Greg Stone yesterday resigned as Lib Dem PPC for Newcastle East, a month after revelations over comments he posted anonymously on Guido Fawkes blog.

Reporting the story on 19th December, the Telegraph wrote:

Using the pen-name Inamicus, Mr Stone left his comments on the Guido Fawkes website as part of a weekly live discussion of Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, in which many contributors make personal criticisms of MPs.

Among Mr Stone’s targets were David Miliband, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, the justice secretary, and Jacqui Smith, the former home secretary.

He twice attacked Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, once asking “How much Botox is Blears on?” and later adding “Don’t know about Botox, think Blears has had a stroke.”

He described Mr Miliband as looking “monged”, made a sexual comment about Mr Straw, and made an apparent reference to Ms Smith’s cleavage.

Women MPs were singled out for harsh treatment. Anne McIntosh, the Conservative MP for the Vale of York – against whom Mr Stone stood in 2001 – was attacked four times. She was variously described as “a depressed woman in blue”, ” needing a makeover”, being “in spinster librarian mode again” and looking “like a deckchair today”.

Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, and Ms May, the shadow women’s minister and work and pensions secretary, were also accused of lacking dress sense. Mr Stone wrote that “Villiers needs to go on What Not to Wear” and that “Theresa looks like she going for the Scottish Widows ad look”.

Other women in the firing line were Sharon Hodgson, the Labour MP, who was described as the “thickest MP in the House”, and Roberta Blackman-Woods, the Labour MP, who was described as a “sour-faced bitch”.

Other backbenchers attacked include William Olner, the Labour MP, who was called “a nonentity”, and Nigel Evans, the Conservative MP, who was labelled a “nodding dog” and a “creep”.

Even one of Mr Stone’s potential future Lib Dem colleagues, Paul Rowen, MP for Rochdale, was criticised as “the dullest MP in the House”.

Greg Stone would appear to be the latest in a growing list of politicians and public figures who have paid the price for comments or activities they thought were private or anonymous but the Internet has revealed to be otherwise.

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  • Not to deny the offensiveness and stupidity of what was said for a Newcastle Lib Dem PPC – how did they know who he was if he was anonymous?

  • I agree with every word he said. Go Greg.

  • My question still hasn’t been answered – how did anyone know it was him?

  • I cannot for the life of me see what Greg Stone has done that is wrong.

    Geoffrey Payne:

    What is the lesson?

    Is it: “I must write out 500 times – MPs are to be humourless, politically correct robots who spit out the party line and have no minds of their own”?

    For the record:

    Steve Pound is a repulsive toad.

    Alan Johnson is an incompetent coward with more than a few brain cells missing.

    Jacqui Smith is an unprincipled careerist lacking the remotest sense of dignity or shame.

  • Duncan Borrowman 12th Jan '10 - 1:01pm

    The internet has become death by public stoning, and the only result will be bland stereotypes and media tarts.

    Don’t get me on to what Esther Rantzen is wearing in The Sunday Telegraph Seven magazine last week…

  • Geoffrey, I know perfectly well why Greg Stone was forced to resign. I don’t need to be lectured to as if I am some stupid juvenile idiot. My point is that his offence (if there is one) is utterly trivial, at least by comparison with others. Tony Blair started an illegal war that killed hundreds of thousands, but he wasn’t forced to resign. Yet Greg Stone makes amusing comments about the dress sense of female MPs and he is hounded from (aspiring to) office. That is what I call topsy-turvy. But then, according to you, I am too thick to see otherwise.

    Geoffrey, should Winston Churchill have walked the plank for calling Bessie Braddock “ugly”?

  • Duncan Borrowman 12th Jan '10 - 2:30pm

    Jo. You clearly have a chip on your shoulder, because I didn’t infer anything different in my comment.

  • “Women MPs were singled out for harsh treatment”.
    If it is true, and I have only whoever wrote this story’s word for it, then this apparent sexism from a LibDem PPC is worrying and should not be dismissed as being part of the knockabout element of politics.

  • Tony Greaves 12th Jan '10 - 7:11pm

    I am no fan of Mr Stone but what a load of nonsense.

    Anyway Blears is not the communities secretary any more (thank goodness).

    Tony Greaves

  • In response, I’d firstly like to say how bad I feel for letting colleagues down. I acknowledge it was a serious mistake to have taken part in the Guido Fawkes website PMQs chat whether or not it was under an alias. My comments were crass and juvenile but were not intended to be deliberately malicious, though I recognise they have caused offence and embarrassment. I made a number of fatuous comments about both male and female MPs and a number of far more complimentary ones, which did not get reported. However opponents have sought to make great capital out of this and clearly it has made my position untenable.

    My opponent has been trying for some time to “dig dirt” on me and I regret that by making these inappropriate posts I have given them an opportunity to try to shift the focus away from the failure of the Labour government to deliver locally and nationally, not to mention away from the matter of MP expenses. It is no excuse but as people have noted others have done far worse – expenses and Iraq come to mind – and survived.

    My comments, though ill advised, were not in any sense worse than you might hear on a TV show like Mock The Week, and I wonder how many of us would be blameless if someone was to compile a dossier of every comment they’ve ever made on the Internet or every sharp word they’ve ever said about someone in private. Miranda Sawyer had a good article in the Observer over Christmas about the way shows like Big Brother and X Factor combined with social media encourage us to become “cyber-bullies” and I think that she’s got me bang to rights:

    In the end I have decided to resign as I recognised my behaviour in a manner which fell short of the beliefs and standards of the party. I have apologised profusely for my regrettable remarks and am deeply sorry that I have caused embarrassment to others. I accept I have made a bad mistake, and am paying a heavy price. I am genuinely sorry.

  • Mr Stone, despite being a Tory supporter I sympathise with your position. I am displeased that your Tory opponent is acting like a po-faced bore.

  • This seems a ridiculously trivial thing to resign over.

    A bit embarrassing, yes, but it really seems a mountain’s been made out of a molehill here – and as Greg says, who can really cast the first stone? Who has really never insulted a politician? Who has really never laughed at ‘Have I Got News For You’?

    Greg’s had to resign for doing something which half the country is doing – laughing at politicians. Does that disqualify anyone with a sense of humour from elected office?

  • I think this shows we need to be more careful about who we pick as our ppc’s. I read this in the Independent and imagine the general public reaction will either be, ‘thats quite funny’ or ‘the Lib Dems are a joke, just like the other 2’!!!!

    We need to show we have serious candidates and they represent a real change to the old ideas represented by Labour and the Tories!!!!

  • David Allen 13th Jan '10 - 2:22pm

    I guess the problem is that everybody thinks they know what the boundaries are, but everybody thinks they are in different places!

    For what it’s worth, I think the boundaries are about hitting below the belt. Thus:

    “Jacqui Smith is an unprincipled careerist lacking the remotest sense of dignity or shame.” Nothing wrong with that. Vicious, but direct and to the point. If the reader thinks the comment is wrong-headed, that’s up to the reader.

    “The dullest MP in the House”. Perfectly fair line of attack. If the victim is in fact an enthralling speaker, his friends can retaliate and point that out.

    “How much Botox is Blears on?” No, that won’t do, not from a PPC anyway. Never mind what some non-PPC might say on Mock the Week or in private, those are quite different situations. Derogatory sexist comments are hitting below the belt. In my view.

    “Should Winston Churchill have walked the plank for calling Bessie Braddock “ugly”?” No, but only because standards in this respect were lower in Churchill’s day.

  • Liberal Neil 13th Jan '10 - 2:49pm

    ““Should Winston Churchill have walked the plank for calling Bessie Braddock “ugly”?” No, but only because standards in this respect were lower in Churchill’s day.”

    Also because he was answering her insult to him, surely?

    In my view Nick Brown’s outburst today is worth than anything Greg has done.

    But kudos to Greg for accepting responsibility for his actions.

  • FFS Gareth get a life. IT WAS FUNNY. And Greg, why resign? We doubled the LD vote in Northgate Ward when we fought our “Dump the Chumps” campaign – main slogan – “Half a mind to vote Labour? That’s all you need!”. ( replace with Tory as necessary) Our campaign, in Labours’ safest ward in Canterbury was ENTIRELY based on such amusingly childish statements. Gosh Labour were jolly cross, but the voters loved it. Our useless exed didn’t, but who cares what they think.

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