Tory candidate quits over homophobic and anti-Islamic tweets

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A Tory council candidate has resigned from the party with immediate effect after posting anti-Islamic and homophobic comments on Twitter.

David Bishop, a candidate in Brentwood South, Essex, apologised after retweeting messages, including one that claimed Islam was the religion of rape.

"I have let myself and my party down," Mr Bishop said in a statement.

It comes after a UKIP council candidate, who tweeted that Islam was "evil", was suspended from the party.

'Real offence'

Mr Bishop, who is also a DJ in the Brentwood area, retweeted one message on 13 April that read: "How CAN a gay guy keep a straight face?"

Analysis

The past few weeks have rather convincingly rammed home that Twitter is a remarkably efficient way of obliterating a political career.

A smartphone, plus a couple of sentences, equals opprobrium, or even oblivion.

Such is the scope for embarrassment, the political parties are ringing us up with examples of what they see as rival candidates' online indiscretions.

What in previous elections would have been little more than hearsay about what people may have heard a candidate say, is now permanently recorded online.

And the "delete" button isn't much of a friend to the strongly opinionated tweeter.

The "screengrab" key has become a must use accessory for all the political parties, permanently recording the musings of their rivals.

In another message, retweeted on April 27 - two days after Mr Bishop was named as a Conservative council candidate - it cited the arrest of four Muslim men over the rape of a 14-year-old girl and added: "#Islam 'the religion of peace' & rape."

In a statement, Mr Bishop apologised "for the real offence caused" and said he would "not be asking anyone to vote for me on May 22".

"I recognise that someone standing for public office should show leadership and seek to unite communities, not divide them. I hope the residents of Brentwood South can forgive my lack of judgement in time," he said.

John Kerslake, chairman of Brentwood and Ongar Conservatives said the matter had been dealt with "swiftly and conclusively in the best interest of Brentwood and the party".

Louise McKinlay, group leader of Brentwood Conservatives, added that Mr Bishop's views had "no place in our team".

"David's decision to step down was the right thing to do and I am pleased the party has backed this and accepted his resignation from the team and from the party," she said.

Mr Bishop's resignation comes as UKIP council candidate, Harry Perry, who was seeking election in the Offerton ward in Stockport, was suspended by the party on Friday after tweeting that Islam was "evil" and homosexuality was an "abomination".

David Bishop's Twitter account A senior Conservative in Brentwood said Mr Bishop's views had "no place in our team"

Another UKIP candidate resigned from the party last week after making controversial remarks about comedian Lenny Henry.

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    11:09: Ed Balls on living standards BBC News Channel
    Ed Balls

    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls also told the BBC News Channel living standards had been stagnant for too long. "When Conservatives say they have fixed the economy, most people say who for, not for me... if that's Tory success, just think of what failure would look like."

     
  80.  
    11:00: Election pledges
    Ed Miliband David Cameron

    A quick recap - with 100 days to the election, Labour and the Conservative Party are setting out their stalls. Ed Miliband has given a speech on Labour's "10-year plan" for the NHS - which pledges new safety checks to identify people at risk of hospitalisation and recruiting 5,000 new home care - in Manchester. Meanwhile, David Cameron has been outlining plans to cut the benefits cap - from £26,000 to £23,000 - to pay for more apprenticeships.

     
  81.  
    10:50: GDP figures
    Graph showing components of UK GDP

    This is from the BBC's Business Live team: It's worth noting a couple of things from today's GDP figures. The first is that the official estimate is below the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility at the time of the Autumn Statement that economic growth would be 3% in 2014. The second is that while, as the ONS says, there has been widespread growth across all major components of GDP since the start of 2013, the service industries remain the largest and steadiest contributor to economic growth. In fairness to the OBR, it did originally forecast GDP growth for 2014 of 2.7% back in March last year.

     
  82.  
    10:49: Mental health

    Mr Miliband says there is still a stigma with mental health, and the nation has got to find a way to talk about it.

     
  83.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Ed Miliband: "Because of his broken promises, what tuition fees are for Nick Clegg, the NHS has become for David Cameron."

     
  84.  
    10:40: Dementia care

    Ed Miliband is now taking questions from the audience in Trafford, including on his plans for dementia care and the role of pharmacies in the NHS.

     
  85.  
    10:39: Key principle

    A bit more on that speech by Ed Miliband - he said the "key principle" to making the NHS sustainable and successful is investment, so the NHS has "time to care".

     
  86.  
    10:33: Trust

    David Cameron can't be trusted with our NHS, Mr Miliband suggests.

     
  87.  
    10:32: 'Wrong values'

    The Labour leader says David Cameron puts the wrong values at the heart of the NHS and the future of the health service is at stake in the general election. "Let's go out and fight for it." he says.

     
  88.  
    10:30: 'No time to care'

    Mr Miliband says people in their 70s and even 80s are currently waiting hours for ambulances to arrive, getting stuck outside hospital in ambulances because A&E is full, and lying on trolleys in corridors. It is an NHS "without enough time to care", he says.

     
  89.  
    10:29: Two futures of NHS
    Ed Miliband Ed Miliband setting out his plans for the NHS

    The Labour leader says the country faces a choice of two futures - continuing with a Conservative plan, which has led to an "NHS in crisis" and "threatens the service as we know it". Or a Labour plan to "rescue" the NHS, invest in its future and join up services from home to hospital.

     
  90.  
    10:25: NHS 'in peril'

    Ed Miliband says the "precious" institution faces its "most perilous moment in a generation".

     
  91.  
    10:25: Ed Miliband on NHS

    Ed Miliband is now delivering a speech on the NHS in Trafford, Manchester.

     
  92.  
    10:24: More on GDP BBC News Channel

    The ONS's chief economist, Joe Grice, tells the BBC News Channel it's "too early to say" if this slowdown will persist. "The dominant services sector remains buoyant while the contraction has taken place in industries like construction, mining and energy supply, which can be erratic," he says.

     
  93.  
    10:23: GDP breakdown

    A breakdown of those GDP figures. The dominant services sector, which represents more than three quarters of output, grew by 0.8% - meaning services are now 7.9% ahead of their pre-downturn level at the start of 2008. Growth was dragged down by construction, which contracted by 1.8% - its worst slowdown since the second quarter of 2012.

     
  94.  
    09:54: GDP figures

    But the 0.5% growth in the final three months of 2014 represents a slight slowdown from the previous three months, which saw 0.7% growth.

     
  95.  
    09:51: GDP figures

    To put that 2.6% figure in context, that's the UK's best annual growth since 2007. In 2013, the economy grew by 1.7%.

     
  96.  
    09:49: GDP figures

    Reacting to those GDP figures, Chancellor George Osborne says they confirm the recovery is "on track". "Our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm, with the fastest growth of any major economy in 2014. But the international climate is getting worse, and with 100 days to go until the election now is not the time to abandon that plan and return Britain to economic chaos," he says.

     
  97.  
    09:44: GDP figures

    BBC's business correspondent Ben Thompson says the ONS GDP figures are good news, but not as good as was expected. The services industry is doing quite well, but construction is dragging it down, he says.

     
  98.  
    09:32: Breaking News

    ONS says UK economy grew by 0.5% during the fourth quarter of 2014 and by 2.6% over the year.

     
  99.  
    09:27: Key dates

    The parties are ramping up their campaigns - and with 100 days until people go to the polls, the BBC's Jo Coburn highlights some key dates between now and then.

     
  100.  
    09:14: TV debates

    Here's a bit more on who said what on the TV debates this morning - and whether a deal is any closer. The latest proposal from the broadcasters suggested a seven-way debate between the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru on the BBC and ITV.

     

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