Greg Stone has resigned as Lib Dem PPC for Newcastle East as a result of the fallout following some lewd comments he made during one of Guido's PMQs live chats a year or so ago. Amongst other comments were a reference to whether Hazel Blears was on Botox and asking whether she had had a stroke and describing a Labour MP as a "sour-faced bitch"
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
There was various coverage of the comments last month in the press (for example here) and there had been calls for Mr Stone to stand down.
So on the surface, a PPC makes some ill-advised comments in public that have offended people and as a result has stood down. Fair enough eh?
Except, except I feel a bit uneasy about this. I will try and articulate it here. Apologies if it seems a bit disjointed.
Before I start I should mention that I did meet Greg during Lib Dem conference last year and had a drink with him. I thought he came across as a nice bloke and he was good company for the hour or so I spent sitting at the same table as him.
As far as I know, Mr Stone has not made comments like this in his capacity as a councillor or as a candidate. He has apologised on numerous occasions and I suspect he will be much more careful in future.
Now I have been following politics long enough to understand that Greg's position had pretty much become untenable. His political opponents in Newcastle East had started to put out leaflets drawing attention to the comments. It was going to be very difficult for him to continue his campaign in that context and it is therefore not surprising that he has gone. I also am sure that members of the Lib Dems would have done the same had it been an opponent that had made these comments.
I want there to be a wide range of people in parliament. Indeed if you speak to people about the sort of MPs they want to see they will often say they want people who are ordinary. Like it or not, there are lots of people who enjoy engaging in lewd banter when they are amongst friends. I expect if you went into many of the pubs in the Newcastle East constituency you would hear the sort of things described above.
I suppose what I am saying is that I wish our politics was mature enough for people to be able to have the odd lapse like this showing that they are human like the rest of us and not be punished by effectively having their political career destroyed. Sadly that is not the case but we reap what we sow with our politics.
I know some people will think I am just saying this because he is a Lib Dem but I really am not and am on record as having defended members of other parties when they have made mistakes too (e.g. here).