Wright should say sorry; Labour MPs should keep tweeting

David Wright is under pressure for a tweet yesterday. But Labour MPs should hold their nerve and avoid following the Conservative's lead of vetting tweets.

David Wright MP finds himself under the cosh today for remarks which appeared on his twitter feed referring to the Conservative party as a “scum-sucking pig”. Although the choice of words, whoever wrote them, were unwise, Labour MPs and candidates should hold their nerve and avoid following the Conservative’s lead of vetting tweets.

Paul Waugh this morning covers the latest in the row including details of a letter from Eric Pickles to the Government Whip and Wright’s own defence on BBC Radio Shropshire:

“I put up on twitter a message linked to Barack Obama’s comment in the Presidential race last year about conservative policy, which is you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.  It looks like somebody, a third party has gone into my account and made it more offensive.

“I think it was a legitimate comment and I mean twitter is edgy and you know it provokes debate, it looks on this occasion as if it has caused a serious problem and we need to go back and look at that.”

The incident could indicate that Labour blogger Luke Akehurst’s prophecy is coming true:

“Blogs, tweets and Facebook are actually more likely to be what loses a party the election than what wins it …

“As the Damian McBride affair showed, one ill-considered email, tweet, blog post or Facebook status upset by a candidate or campaigner can provide a lot of ammo for the old-fashioned media to shred a party’s campaign with.”

But unlike the Conservative party which is vetting candidates’ tweets and leaflets, the Labour party should encourage its politicians to use caution but continue to engage with activists and voters through Twitter.

Dr Nick Anstead, who specialises in the intersection between political institutions and new communication technology, told Left Foot Forward:

“Gaffes come and go, and have minimal significance to the big political picture. But a more controlled approach to Twitter would mean sacrificing I Love The NHS and thousands of David Cameron mash up posters. The point is, once you control one thing, you inevitably stifle the vibrancy of the community.”

Wright’s tweet was not a hanging defence but his dubious claim that someone edited his tweet has attracted a backlash. Instead, even if he hadn’t actually clicked send, he should have taken responsibility and said sorry allowing everyone to move on. In the long-run, the gains from openness and authenticity trump the short-term hit of putting your paws up.

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21 Responses to “Wright should say sorry; Labour MPs should keep tweeting”

  1. Paul Smith Bristol

    RT @leftfootfwd: .@DavidWrightMP should say sorry but Labour MPs should keep tweeting and avoid http://bit.ly/bbQlOu

  2. Jonathan Sheppard

    @ leftfootforward Agree that David Wright should fess up and say sorry! But none of my tweets are controlled. http://bit.ly/bbQlOu

  3. Nick Anstead

    Quote from yours truely on LFF: "once you control one thing, you inevitably stifle the vibrancy of the community.” http://bit.ly/cTjIHZ

  4. Bryony Victoria King

    RT @leftfootfwd: @DavidWrightMP should say sorry but Labour MPs shud keep tweeting http://bit.ly/bbQlOu <good & similar to my latest blog 😉

  5. Sunny H

    Meh. I don’t have much sympathy for Tory faux-outrage. The wider impact will be minimal – this isn’t even a big Westminster story. People on the doorstep aren’t going to care.

  6. Tim Ireland

    RT @leftfootfwd: @DavidWrightMP should say sorry but Labour MPs shud keep tweeting http://bit.ly/bbQlOu

  7. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: .@DavidWrightMP should say sorry but Labour MPs should keep tweeting and avoid the Tory command-and-control approach http://bit.ly/bbQlOu

  8. Mr. Sensible

    I agree; whilst the post might have been hacked, what’s the problem with saying “sorry”?

    I’m sure a few Tories have been up to things in their time; there was an incident last year when a Tory activist dressed as Madalin Mckan:

  9. Reuben

    I agree the wider impact will be minimal. The issues that make the most media noise are not necessarily those which will be most important in determining voting behaviour.

  10. He's Spartacus

    Wright’s frantic attempts to walk this back, and his claims that he was “hacked” would indicate that a certain West Midlands MP thinks people on the doorstep may care just a bit.

  11. sinosimon

    of course its not a hanging offence for an mp to send such a disgusting tweet. his constituents will however be able to draw the correct conclusions. it is however a different matter to pretend it was nothing to do with him after the event. why did he not draw twitter’s attention to the previous posts to #toryscum that came from his account? or the tweet in reply to #bevaniteellie that described cameron as a scumbag? the only sensible conclusion is he didn’t complain then because he sent them, the same as he sent the message yesterday. i note sunny taking the high ground again….the honesty of government ministers doesn’t matter if people on the doorstep don’t care. classy. very third way. bit of false consciousness creeping in there sunny…..

  12. Mark

    This is a tiny matter, no one has heard of this man. But like many scandals, it’s not the wrongdoing in the first case, it’s the cover-up that offends: when caught it pays to tell the truth, perhaps admit a beer too many, rather than lie.

    In denying the issue it’s growing beyond all proportion, it risks becoming a test for the Labour leadership, will they back him or sack him?

  13. Tribune

    @leftfootfwd why Laobur MPs should keep tweeting: http://tinyurl.com/yay72gx

  14. Tribune

    @leftfootfwd why Labour MPs should keep tweeting: http://tinyurl.com/yay72gx

  15. Scum-sucking pig

    From the Frequently Asked Questions section of Twitter’s very own help website:

    Can I edit a tweet once I post it?

    Nope. Once it’s out there, you can’t edit it. You can delete an update by clicking the trash icon on the right end of the update, but you can’t make changes.

    This puts Labour whip David Wright’s claim that his tweet about the Conservatives being “scum sucking pigs” was “tinkered with” beyond any doubt.

  16. Mark

    So .
    Well, I live above one of those doorsteps and I jolly well do care. This kind of langauge would be inappropriate in a children’s playground and it is inappropriate from a Member of Parliament who most certainly does not deserve the title of Right Honourable. This kind of public talk and lack of regeret from a member of the Labour Party distills into 140 characters so much that is wrong with our current government, their approach to governing us, the people, and the society they have helped to shape over the last 13 years. If I was in his consituency I would ask that he be deselected.
    I have voted Labour in the past and most certainly do not plan to do so again, thanks in part to the attitude of uncouth and ignorant people like David Wright.

  17. FX Man

    Wright – a Minister – has lied to cover up. That is media manipulation.

    I thought we fought against media manipulation on this site.

  18. Quietzapple

    RT @bryonyvk: RT @leftfootfwd: @DavidWrightMP should say sorry but Labour MPs shud keep tweeting http://bit.ly/bbQlOu <good & similar …

  19. The Wright Stuff « Twinterland

    […] site’ (assuming your interpertration of the evidence is progressive), LeftFootForward, cautioned against using the Wright debacle as a justification for parties to impose command and control on tweeting […]

  20. Niles Cooke

    The language was bad but it is the outright lying that’s the biggie here. Amongst the many lies he’s told so far is the ‘I don’t have mobile access to Twitter’ yet posts he’s admitted were his were mobile Twitter postings. We have every right to demand basic honesty from our MP’s never mind from a Gov’t whip (and he Tweeted it on his tax payer funded (wholly or partially through the CA) website. This is strictly against the rules.
    With his innate Labour ministerial response of Lie Lie and Lie again he shows himself to be an odious creature. The whole episode reminds us of the pitfalls of any party being in power for too long.

  21. Nash

    David Wright comes across as immature and unworldly. Does he not realise that it is never the actual deed that causes the problem it is the cover-up. The worry is that if he is considered “good enough” to be a member of the government, what does that say about the rest of his colleagues and the judgment of MPs like Nick Brown. No wonder Gordon has to bring in so many peers to be ministers – there aren’t enough MPs with ability.

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