Alex Hilton: How the web shows we can all be human like Stuart MacLennan

I have been campaigning in elections since 1983, though being eight years old at the time, I was not as finely attuned to the political nuances then as I am now. That said, this election so far has not had much in the way of nuance.

Campaigning in elections since 1983: Alex Hilton
Campaigning in elections since 1983: Alex Hilton

The highlight has been the sacking of Labour's Moray candidate Stuart MacLennan, who tweeted references to coffin dodgers and an ironic reference to slave-grown bananas. Gordon Brown told ITV News: ‘When I first saw the comments, I said this man has got to go. I'm afraid he has made a mistake and I can't have that. I can't have him representing the Labour Party as a candidate. People will know we have got to be tough on these things.'

With that, MacLennan's parliamentary ambitions in a safe Liberal Democrat seat were over.

There was no investigation into the fact that someone had to trawl through his twitter entries for more than a year, since before he was a candidate, to find the incriminating tweets.

Frankly, it was like iced water dripping down my spine. I have been active on the internet for ten years, I have been on Facebook for half that time and on Twitter for a couple of years.

There has to be an enormous quantity of inappropriate material online with my name on it.  Am I going to find myself pilloried in the next few days? Can I cleanse my online past?

Of course not, and this may be the last election when it really matters. Brown has sacked a young candidate for being a flawed human like the rest of us, yet MPs are equally flawed humans, in some cases more so.

Some have horrific views and attitudes and some are still there despite overclaiming their expenses and fiddling their taxes through capital gains tax flipping.

By the next election, it is possible that all candidates' humanity will be evidenced on the net, with drunken Facebook pictures and even more drunken tweets.

At that time, you will not be able to sack candidates for being human, and maybe that will be a good thing for democracy. I just have to hold out until then.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in