Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Questions David Wright MP Should Answer

Here's a letter Eric Pickles has written to David Wright MP...

David Wright MP
House of Commons

16 February 2010

Dear David,

I am writing to you regarding comments you appear to have made on Twitter yesterday about the Conservative Party.

On your Twitter feed, you posted a comment in the afternoon responding to a Conservative advertising campaign featuring people who have never voted Tory before. You wrote: ‘Because you can put lipstick on a scum-sucking pig, but it’s still a scum-sucking pig. And cos [sic] they would ruin Britain.’

This is the sort of offensive behaviour that turns people off voting. However, instead of apologising for language that demeans the office of a minister of the Crown, you chose this morning to defend it, describing it as ‘legitimate comment’.

Moreover, rather than owning up to your actions you seem to be trying to claim that your ‘Twitter feed’ was hacked into. This explanation is simply not credible:

• The ‘Tweet’ was made under your name.
• You have used similar language in the past on Twitter, including describing David Cameron as a ‘horrible opportunistic scumbag.’
• Immediately after the ‘Tweet’, you posted again to say that you ‘must’ve hit a nerve,’ and then again that Conservatives ‘do get riled very easily.’
• You then decided to apologise for the ‘Tweet’

Only after all of this did you then claim that your Twitter account had been ‘tinkered’ with.

I would be grateful if you could now stop treating people like fools and answer the following questions:

• If you did not make the comments, who did?
• How did the person hack into your account and have you reported the matter to Twitter?
• When did you first know about this? Is this the first time your account has been hacked into?
• When did you regain control of your account?
• Why did you make comments, which you have not disputed making, saying ‘They do get very riled easily don’t they,’ and ‘Oh dear, upsetting Tories again. Must’ve hit a nerve’? If these were not references to the offensive post, what were they in reference to?
• Why did you make these comments after your account was allegedly hacked into and not offer an apology once discovering your account had been hacked into?

The Ministerial Code states that ‘Ministers of the Crown are expected to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety.’ (Ministerial Code, June 2007; section 1.1)

You are clearly not currently abiding with either the letter or spirit of the Code. I would therefore be grateful if, as a matter of public interest, you could respond to me as soon as possible both to clarify your explanation and to apologise unreservedly.

Yours sincerely,

Eric Pickles
Chairman, The Conservative Party
Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar


Anonymous said...

surely Mr Wright has referred the hacking to the Govt and to the police for security reasons.

If not, why not.

Surely because he wouldnt want to be arrested for making false accusations and done for wasting police time.

Unknown said...

Yes Iain, and Eric for that matter, this is exactly what the average man and woman are talking about right now. Forget unemployment, immigration and rising inflation. Everyone's talking about pathetic, nobody MP's latest tweet.

This is the most pressing issue facing our country today.

Wright is blatantly a complete arse. But I doubt even he actually believes that, in some areas of the United Kingdom today, over half of teenage girls fall pregnant.

Get your priorities right!

This is puerile in the extreme and you've fallen hook, line and sinker for this pathetic distraction.

Westminster bubble indeed. Get a life.

Tapestry said...

Cameron is right to avoid Twitter. It is bound to deteriorate.

Bartleby said...

Nice one Eric. The key question though is how does he account for the supposed hacker intercepting his legitimate posting to add the 'scum sucking' bit before it went live? A call to Twitter should clarify if this is even technically possible.

Anonymous said...

Government minister? Apologise? Wuhahahahahahaha

golden_balls said...

4 posts in less than a day about David Wright.

I see you've got the order from Tory HQ somebody give me a nudge when iains back in control

John Avery said...


I've said it before. I'm a floating voter and seeing senior Conservative politicians wasting time on this petty stuff just isn't big or clever. I couldn't give a monkeys. I am worried about the economy, my mortgage and my kids' education, and I want to see the 'government in waiting' 100% focussed on these things before I'll give them my vote. Leave this sort of nonsense to bloggers and journalists.

Vulpus_rex said...

I'm sorry Jemimah you're wrong.

The evidence strongly suggests that David Wright, a minister of the Crown has lied publicly to excuse his sorry backside - should he be blithely permitted to do this or not?

If you agree that ministers shouldn't tell massive great big porkies no matter what the subject matter or the occasion then he should be brought to account.

Hawkeye said...

I seem to recall Mr Pickles wrote a letter to Gordon Brown requesting an explanation of his denial of any knowledge of the matters referred to in Mr. Watts's book a concerning 'slush funds'. Did Mr. Pickles get an answer to that letter? I ask because if he doesn't get answers why bother asking the questions, he should just complain to the appropriate authority in each case.

Jimmy said...

Good to see the tories focus on the real issues facing the country.

You haven't flogged something to death like this since the Peter Who whingefest.

Stephen Glenn said...

Iain has Eric written a similar letter to Harry 'Tory Bear' Cole after his Tweets on Sunday night?

Anonymous said...

Eric Pickles is right to take David Wright up on this, but he does demonstrate the usual politician's woeful incomprehension of how things work on the internet.

As I understand it, David Wright admitted to posting a tweet but said it didn't include the phrase 'scum sucking', only 'lipstick on a pig' as used by Obama. He continued by saying that someone must have hacked into his account to 'tinker with' his original tweet.

You can't edit tweets, you can only delete them.

It follows that a hacker into David Wright's Twitter account could have posted tweets in his name but could not have added 'scum sucking' to a tweet already made by David Wright.

The man is lying, end of story, and most of Eric Pickles' questions are irrelevant.

Twig said...

"the Tories would ruin Britain?"
Surely that task has already been amply accomplished by Labour.

What's left to ruin?

Iain Dale said...

Stephen, I have no idea what you are referring to, but whatever it is, I think you need to differentiate between a government minister and a Tory blogger who holds no public position whatsoever.

Paddy Briggs said...

Oh Dear. I agree with Jemimah - well said.

Wright was quite wrong to use offensive language - but surely this is a matter for his Party and his Government. A dignified silence from Pickles would have been impressive. But no chance.

Meanwhile inflation rises, soldiers are being killed and the rest of us live our lives - mostly without throwing jibes and clever, clever epithets at people we disagree with.

golden_balls said...

so i assume TB and others who tweet similar posts won't be invited to Conservative Blogging events and will be roundly condemned.

Your judged not only by your actions but by people you associate with iain. you can't be critical of one and then laugh when friends do the same and worse. Makes you look like a hyprocrite.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I have no idea who David Wright is but he appears to have tried to lie his way out of this. I am shocked. Members of Parliament lying to save their own skins? Whatever next.

Janner said...

It does amuse me how self-righteous people are getting over the Pickles letter

He isn't in government, the country is still being badly run and ministers are still spending non-existent money on buying votes

Perhaps the Labour Trolls might consider whether defending a Minister that blatantly lies about his use of, ahem, colourful, language is a fit and proper person to represent their party is a good use of their time?

Or have they given up?

simon said...

Wright is obviously an idiot but this series of posts and Pickles' letter are precisely the kind of petty, pointscoring sectional bickering that, as you have observed in other contexts, Iain, is turning people off politics.

tory boys never grow up said...

Can we presume that Mr Dale will now be deleting the 102 references to "scumbag" and the 532 references to "scum" that he has published on this blog.

Also somewhat ironic that Mr Dale's first response to the the idiot's twitter was to call him a "twat" (391 references), which is not exactly a polite term.

Unknown said...

No worse than Grant Shapps being caught astroturfing during an election.

And Grant's excuse was just as pathetic "I was hacked, my password was 1234". Yet he is still Shadow Minister for Housing, so how does that work?

Though to be brutally honest, there are far more important things to worry about than politicians calling each other names. Still, I guess that's life in the goldfish bowl...

Jimmy said...

"I think you need to differentiate between a government minister and a Tory blogger who holds no public position whatsoever."

Quite right. I mean it's not as if Pickles was inviting him into CCHQ for briefings is it?

Oh wait...

Jimmy said...

I think it's apparent by now that whenever the tories start to talk about policy the wheels come off. they're far more comfortable with rubbish like this.

Anonymous said...

"starfish said...
Perhaps the Labour Trolls might consider whether defending a Minister that blatantly lies about his use of, ahem, colourful, language is a fit and proper person to represent their party is a good use of their time?"

They, obviously, think so. When you have a rĂ´le model, like Gorgon Broon, more is not to be expected.

Dave H said...

This is really a storm in a Westminster teacup. I'm sure worse insults have been traded.

Meanwhile, a Lib Dem Bristol Councillor is in court for calling a colleague a 'coconut.' The charge is 'racially aggravated harrassment.' How pathetic.

In our wonderful land of free speech, one word can land you in trouble with the police.

Whatever happened to this country? Did our rulers consider the GDR a model society?

The Random Punter said...

Sorry, Labour apologists, your argument can be reversed. Labour have spent over a decade bringing a once prosperous nation to its knees, and all one of its MPs can do is tweet about pigs and scum.

Surely it's Labour that is more comfortable smearing and insulting rather than talking about their record of running the country?

Iain Dale is a commentator, he has no say in policy, and as such, he is entitled to make as much of this as he wants.

Richard Wells said...

Fair play to Big Eric.
Not only has Wright made an awful fool of himself by posting unsuitable and offensive comments in the first place but to go on to lie about it only makes matters worse!
Politicians can survive saying, er, 'misguided' things, but rarely do they survive blatant lying.

By following this up Pickles is doing his job in holding the government to account. It may not seem important on the face of it but a Minister who publically lies is always important and you can bet that if it was a Tory MP or PPC who had done this Labour would be doing the same as Pickles and that Tory would probably be on his way by the end of the week.

Oh and anyone who is screaming about double standards and hypocrisy in this issue is very tragically missing the point

Barnacle Bill said...

Whilst I agree with many that it would be better if we were concentrating on sorting out the mess Broon has got this country into.
Let us not forget a very important principle here, namely that a Minister of the Government would prefer to apparently lie than tell the truth.
If said Minister is prepared to try to avoid the consequences of his actions on a trivial matter such as this, can we believe him when it comes to issues that actually affect us all?

Unknown said...

"Iain Dale is a commentator, he has no say in policy..."

Not for the want of trying!!!!

golden_balls said...

random punter said

Iain Dale is a commentator, he has no say in policy, and as such, he is entitled to make as much of this as he wants.

true but as stated above iain has himself reduced himself to using similar words about people. I just find that hypocritical.

I don't know if Davids twitter account was hacked what i can say is that sometimes mistakes do happen. Copy and paste is great but sometimes this can lead to problems as i've just found out and thankfully corrected lol

Simon said...

This isn't about Twitter. It's about honesty. I listened to the liar Mr Wright lying today on the radio.

He must think people are idiots. You can't edit tweets and a quick view in the cache of his past tweets shows that he is more than happy to hurl verbal abuse.

Now if a Labour MP cannot even be honest about his conduct on a triviality such as Twitter how can he possibly be trusted as a MP?

Shame people on here seem to need the basic argument highlighted to them. Iain ever wonder about having a IQ test on here before people are allowed to post?

Moriarty said...

golden balls - I'm beginning to sispect that even given 100 hours and the assistance of Bernie the Bolt you'd still manage to miss the point.

It's not the content of the original message that's causing David Who some discopmfort. It's the LYING about it. I know that it's just a bodily function for you Labour factota, but for the rest of us the LYING remains obnoxious.

How are you enjoying half term?

Not a sheep said...

Eric Pickles was due on 5Live's Richard Bacon show before 4pm; did anyone hear it? What happened?

The Random Punter said...

Golden Balls,

Were Iain an MP (and yes, Jemimah, it's not for want of trying!) he would indeed be a hypocrite here.

However, Iain is not paid by the taxpayer to manage his consituency, help run the country, tell the truth and behave with decency and decorum at all times. Mr Wright is, and has clearly abused his position and then lied about it.

What Iain writes on his blog is his own business, funded by himself and his own efforts, and as such if he wishes to call someone a scumbag he has every right to do so (and the same applies to lefties such as Sunny Hundal etc. etc.). Should Iain win selection as an MP, of course this would change.

The distinction is both clear and obvious.

golden_balls said...

someone said

It's not the content of the original message that's causing David Who some discopmfort. It's the LYING about it

As far as i'm aware he's not denying the twitter post its what was included in the post. ie his denial that he used those words.
I don't know if his twitter account was hacked i'm not defending him whatsoever.

My point is that Eric and iain use similar words and associate themselves with people who do on a frequent basis. I call those kind of people hypocrites.

My other point is cut/copy/paste is problematic as i found out earlier this afternoon. That could be perhaps one reason why david is aghast at what has been posted.

the odds of that being true though are low lol but well worth a punt for a whip under pressure

Bird said...

Nice one Eric.
For the many trolls who infest this site, Eric Pickles or an assistant has spent just an hour or two on the letter to "Scumbag" Wright.
Otherwise the great man spends many hours every day plotting the downfall of Labour MPs, particularly in marginal seats.

Stephen Glenn said...

Iain Harry 'Tory Bear' Cole may only be 'a Tory blogger who holds no public position' yet he appears frequently on Sky News as a spokesman for the Conservative party.

Wasn't Cardiff Blogger leaned upon from on high over comment about a contestant in the X-Factor, not the Prime Minster of the country and his disability.

Maybe Tory Porcipine is a more appropriate name for that particular blogger.

Intentionally Blank said...

You desperate Labour apologists make me sick. You live your lives spouting your sixth form socialist mantras about redistribution of wealth, social inequity and tolerance but when push comes to shove, like the tribal band of petty bigots some of you are, you defend the indefensible and attempt to find moral equivalence between Harry Cole's adolescent tittle tattle and a Government minister LYING to the country.

You are either pathetically clueless or shamelessly and deliberately hypocritical.

Who cares, in this context, what Iain or Tory Bear or Guido may or may not have said? It doesn't make the slightest difference to the fact that David Wright has proven himself - by virtue of his vicious attack and clumsy deceit - to be unsuitable to hold public office. If you defend that, you are as ignorant as he is.

DespairingLiberal said...

Wright is a Whip, which is not quite ministerial.

He is also very clearly both a berk and a liar.

Iain Dale himself has very frequently used similar words. Eric Pickles' letter is the most absurd kind of petty politicking - is this really what the Tory Party is concerned about right now??

It's all unfortunately fairly typical of the degraded state of British politics at present.

Iain Dale said...

Stephen Glenn, name me one occasion Tory Bear has appeared as a spokesman for the Conservative Party. You can't because he hasn't. Nor has Stephen Tall appeared as a spokesman for the LiBDems. Nor have I appeared as a Tory spokesman. A Conservative blogger does not speak for the Conservative Party.

DL A Whip is indeed a Government Minister.

Jimmy said...

Iain is right. The whole point of people like TB is to smear opponents while allowing the party to disclaim any responsibility for it. TB is nothing to do with the party and if he and his ilk were in Pickles' office it must be because they were lost.

DespairingLiberal said...

Yet as we've seen before many times Iain, you frequently act as part of co-ordinated Conservative campaigns and sometimes even appear to initiate and lead them, soon to be followed by CCHQ.

My basic thesis is that "independent Tory blogger" is just a pose you, your Party and the media find convenient, as balance rules can be waived, despite the fact that you are very clearly a de-facto Conservative Party spokesman, albeit of the street variety.

An ordinary whip (not the Chief Whip, who is different) is hardly the same as a full minister. Do they get for example a ministerial car?

I quote from the relevant Wikipedia entry:

"The Government Chief Whip is assisted by the Deputy Chief Whip, Whips, and Assistant Whips. In order to give them a salary for what is in essence a party office, the government whips are appointed to positions in HM Treasury and in the Royal Household under the Lord Steward of The Household. The whips are not active in either of these departments"

DespairingLiberal said...

Thanks for posting that Iain.

The article goes on to say:

"Assistant Whips, and Whips of opposition parties, generally do not receive such appointments."

Assistant Whips are not government ministers.

Eric Pickles and you ought to know this simple H of C factoid.

I do wonder sometimes about the level of "expertise" around these parts.

Iain Dale said...

Oh dear DL, you dig yourself deeper. Yes they do have use of cars, like any other ministers. They are paid exactly the same as other ministers.

I am not, and never have been a Conservative Party Spokesman. I can't ever reclal an occasion when I have rung CCHQ and asked for a line to take and there has never been an occasion when they have given me one or asked me to do anything at all. They send me press releases in the same wayas they are sent to political journalists.

You then write: "you frequently act as part of co-ordinated Conservative campaigns and sometimes even appear to initiate and lead them, soon to be followed by CCHQ."

So they are coordinated by CCHQ after I initiate or lead them. Do you realise how ridiculous thayt sounds and how it defeats your own argument. What you are saying is that if the Daily Telegraph takes up a story I write, I then become a spokesman for the Daily Telegraph.

What a joke you have become.

Iain Dale said...

DL, Oh dear, you show your ignorance again with your comments on Assistant whips. Of course opposition whips (with the exception of the Opposition Chief Whip) are not paid, and nor are Opposition frontbenchers.

However, Assistant whips receive the same salary as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and they are full members of the government.

Sic Semper Tyrannis said...

So the Today programme has just effectively called David Wright a liar, though they were obviously trying to make light of it all. I wonder if he will sue the BBC?

Sean said...

I think there is a fair point that if the Conservatives choose to make an issue of this, then they need to keep squeaky clean themselves.

All of which would be a move in the right direction.

DespairingLiberal said...

He's only technically a minister as he draws a government salary. An Assistant Whip is hardly the same as a proper minister.

I don't personally care if you are a Tory spokesperson or not, but I think it's a bit much to see you on Sky as a Tory mouthpiece day in, day out and then have you keep denying it, especially as they are clearly breaching broadcasting guidelines in this way.

Iain Dale said...

DL, please stop digging. So you have admitted that whips are Ministers. That's progress.

I am not a Tory mouthpiece. You know as well as I do that there are numerous occasions when I have criticised Tory polices and approaches both on the blog and on the media.

You really must be losing it if you think that by having me on Sky or the BBC are breaching any code. What about when they have Alex Smith, Alex Hilton or Will Straw on. Are Sky breaching guidelines when they appear? If not why not?

Jules Wright said...

Labour and the Internet? That'll be Anti-Social Media then.

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain, to correct your statement that "... they do have use of cars, like any other ministers. They are paid exactly the same as other ministers..."

(1) Only the Chief Whip has use of a ministerial car. See Hansard minutes here for confirmation. Surely you knew this? If so, why did you state that an Assistant Whip has one?

(2) An Assistant Whip is paid a salary but it's a lot less than a "Minister".

Maybe an Assistant Whip is technically a Minister, but a little teensy weensy one.

It's not me, but you and Mr Pickles who are "digging". Do Tories really have nothing better to call on then getting down into the dirt with this idiot Wright?

Steve Tierney said...

Or we could stop whining about it and talk about something useful.

"Scum-sucking" is hardly the worst insult on the face of the Earth. And you know what they say about sticks and stones.

So the man's rude and unpleasant. What's new?

Jules Wright said...

Off piste but what about Keir Starmer and the £8,000 a month taxpayer bill for his chauffered Toyota Prius? To take him 4 miles to work and back again. £96,000 a year for a 3,000 mile annual commute? I hope the brakes really do fail.