Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday 9 April 2010

Stuart MacLennan - retrospective foot in mouth

'Think in your head, now, think of the most...private...secret...intimate thing you have ever done secure in the knowledge of its privacy...Are you thinking of it? Well, I saw you do it!'

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Tom Stoppard)

For the lucky majority of us, the Player's taunt is an empty one. Most of our youthful indiscretions, though they may cause our toes to curl in moments of excruciating recollection, are at least buried in the past with no surviving evidence.

Not so for Generation X-box, the children of the electronic age. Every bitchy e-mail, every inebriated garbled text is potentially there to be viewed in the cold light of day years after the event. The doings of todays young people are recorded in the kind of detail that in previous centuries attended only the actions of royalty.

The concept of privacy has undergone a radical change since the advent of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter et al. Their users treat the world to a constant stream-of-consciousness narrative regardless of merit or consideration. And there are going to be repercussions.

'A Labour election candidate who cursed leading politicians, including David Cameron and Nick Clegg, on his Twitter page has been removed from standing. Stuart MacLennan will no longer be the party's Moray candidate and has been suspended as a Labour member after admitting tweeting offensive comments.' (BBC news)

The offending tweets were broadcast last year when Mr MacLennan was still a student. Now, my student days are long gone but I do remember that, in the political hothouse of my alma mater, I was hardly what you might call a model of moderate speech or opinions.

And I am ceaselessly grateful that none of my self-righteous political opinions from those days can ever come back to bite me.

Update: From Guido Fawkes - Prophetically one tweet said “Iain Dale reckons the biggest gaffes will likely be made by candidates on Twitter – what are the odds it’ll be me?”


  1. And people always say they want honesty and real opinions, not manufactured spin, from their politicians.

    Then this happens, and suddenly it's all 'How very dare he!'

    We really deserve the politicians we get, don't we?

  2. People may want it, but how on earth do they identify 'honesty' in a politician? If no-one's managed it in 4,000 years, I doubt we'll be able to do it now.

    Glad to see your commitment to recycling - and flattered that I got this comment 11 minutes before LFAT.

  3. "Glad to see your commitment to recycling - and flattered that I got this comment 11 minutes before LFAT."



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