Reason to avoid Twitter No1

Dear oh dear.

Exactly what do we pay our elected representatives for, I wonder?

Of course, that question is entirely rhetorical – we pay them to do their jobs, preferably quietly and efficiently.

But in my humble opinion, we do not pay them to have unseemly spats on Twitter.

And yet that is exactly what we had last week when Antoinette Sandbach, the Conservative MP for Eddisbury (the part of Cheshire that includes bits of Northwich, Crewe, Nantwich, Chester and all of Winsford) took to social media to have a pop at an old favourite of Fly in the Ointment – Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane.

What sparked the row, as far as I can work out, was a vile piece of abuse sent to Ms Sandbach, apparently from a hunt protestor. (I have read the post that contained the abusive letter and it is truly disgraceful, so bad in fact it has quite rightly been reported to the police).

But as part of the Twitter thread, she claimed Mr Keane had failed to condemn the abuse and asked what it said about his attitude towards women's safety, adding the hashtag #notfitbeinpost.

Strong stuff from Ms Sandbach who in an earlier post said: "Sadly #Labour police and crime commissioner is stirring this issue up [hunting] and refused to acknowledge the intimidation and threats to my constituents from [hunt] saboteurs. Perhaps he will take those threats seriously now as it’s not a coincidence."

Regular readers of this column will know we covered the divisive topic of hunting and the response of Cheshire Police last week with PCC Keane asking the trail hunts in the county to comply with a set of conditions in a bid to ensure public safety.

And he continued that theme when he replied to Ms Sandbach saying: "Your further comments appear misinformed and unfair. The [hunting] independent review and public scrutiny meeting recognised views of all and made clear recommendations to prevent crime and support all involved to stay within the law."

He also stated there was an open invitation to Ms Sandbach to discuss her concerns with him but he also accused her of letting down her constituents by sending an unelected representative to a meeting he arranged with 11 of the region's MPs and said 'it feels like a complete dereliction of duty'.

I'm not getting in to a moral argument here about the rights and wrongs of hunting but I feel it is right to question the rights and wrongs of an MP and a Police and Crime Commissioner washing their dirty linen in public.

As I said earlier, this is not what you are paid to do. Please put a bit more time and effort into resolving your differences in a manner that's a little more civilised and grown up.

It's the least we can expect from you. I look forward to seeing your joint press release in the coming weeks – and not on Twitter.

Reason to avoid Twitter No2

If you are a senior politician, a former Cabinet minister and maybe with aspirations for the highest office in the land it's probably a good idea to check your facts before putting something out on social media to your 25,700 followers.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tatton MP Esther McVey.

Ms McVey, an arch Brexiter, thought it would be a good idea to tweet about the shocks in store for us if we stay in the EU, referencing a 'report' that someone had done after reading through the conditions of the Lisbon Treaty.

According to Ms McVey, if we stay in the EU, to fulfil our obligations under the treaty, the UK would have to join the Euro, join the Schengen Area, agree to move London's financial services centre to Germany and more horror stories along those lines.

It is, of course, absolute nonsense and was roundly discredited by academics who have actually read the Lisbon Treaty when it firsts appeared.

Put bluntly, it is lies and 'fake news'.

Now here's the problem. Either Ms McVey knew it was lies when she posted it or was so careless and reckless, she didn't bother to check before taking to Twitter to post something that appeared to support her hard Brexit agenda.

Frankly, neither is a good look.

The original post has now been deleted but at the time of writing, she hadn't issued a correction or apology. I think in these circumstances, a little humility would go a long way.

And how many of Ms McVey's 25,700 followers saw the original post but haven't seen the subsequent rebuttals debunking the lies so the fake news continues to spread?

I don't have a problem with our MPs holding strong views even if I don't agree with them, but in these febrile and contentious times, is it too much to ask for a little care and accuracy?