As election day looms, we look back at what has been a tumultuous campaign for MP candidates from all parties. As is becoming the norm in British politics, online blunders and revelations have once again ended several political careers. In a previous blog post we highlighted the mistakes made by Change UK, but here we explore how political parties have failed to grasp the importance of online due diligence and social media checks.
The SNP dropped a candidate over anti-Semitic posts shared on Facebook, whilst offensive tweets from a prospective Lib Dem MP were deemed to have brought the party “into disrepute”. Having formed in January, the Brexit Party found themselves in a scramble to produce hundreds of MP candidates to stand across the United Kingdom. In this rush to field candidates, any semblance of due diligence went out of the window.
Stoke North candidate, Daniel Rudd, was dropped after the emergence of homophobic and racist tweets from his personal account. In a bizarre attempted show of support for animal rights, he also suggested conducting pharmaceutical testing on ‘Remainers’ instead. He has since deleted his Twitter profile.
Brighton Kemptown candidate, Dr Graham Cushway, came under fire for his past involvement in a ‘Nazi vampire’ themed heavy metal band. A simple Google search of his name will lead you to articles from 2012 describing his acrimonious departure from the band. Once the connection is made, you can find the candidate (under his stage name of Graham Lord Pyre) sporting the SS Totenkopf insignia on his Gestapo-style costume in photos on the band’s website.
Candidate Jill Hughes also faced increasing scrutiny for the disparity between claims on her social media profiles and her actual accomplishments and accolades. For example, she listed herself as the ‘CEO’ of Money Magnet on her LinkedIn since November 2017 but only registered the company on 10 October this year.
These were avoidable slip-ups, as adverse content was there for anyone to find. Political parties and candidates face greater scrutiny in the press, and the lack of due diligence conducted led to a great deal of wasted time and money. We have highlighted the need for online reputation screening to help build a complete picture of job candidates, but this should be no different for political candidates.