The Extra reported on the breaking news story yesterday of Councillor Gordon McCaskill’s suspension from The Conservative Party following what was reported as an offensive tweet about the First Minister.
The party leadership took swift and decisive action suspending him immediately. A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Mr McCaskill has been suspended as a member of the party with immediate effect subject to an investigation.”
However, The Extra, speaking to the councillor this morning, learnt that it was all intended as a joke. The tweet was intended as ridicule which it was suggested, by definition, might be considered in poor taste as opposed to bad taste and follows a long tradition of political ridicule extending back to Gillray and Rowlandson in the 18th Century.
The former police officer, who describes himself on his Twitter biography as a “man of the people, councillor, historian, bon vivant, raconteur and wit” tweeted: “Scenes we’d like to see: the refugees Nicola invites into her house are Daesh moles.” Alluding that Islamic State spies should move in with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The post followed Sturgeon’s appearance on the Murnaghan programme on Sky News where she claimed that she would be “absolutely happy” to take a refugee from Syria.
An SNP spokesperson said: “There can be no excuse for this offensive online behaviour, and it is only right that councillor Gordon McCaskill has been suspended.
“The refugee crisis is a serious issue which David Cameron and the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson say they want to treat seriously, and they are let down by Tory colleagues who indulge in posts on the web like this.”
The First Minister is appearing in next months issue of Vogue magazine where she comments on “hideous and cruel” jibes about her appearance.
She told the magazine: “Literally every time I’m on camera, as well as there being commentary on what I’ve said, there’ll be commentary on what my hair looked like, what I wear. Often it’s written in the most hideous and quite cruel way.
“And yes, men aren’t immune to that, but even Ed Miliband I don’t think experienced it quite that way. But I’m actually inured to it now.”
Earlier this year McCaskill was slammed for making “sexist” comments about women in trade unions. He claimed women are “not keen” on going on strike in comments at a public hustings where he was asked about trade union laws.
The Scottish Conservative party distanced themselves from the comments at the time.
A spokeswoman for East Renfrewshire Council said: “East Renfrewshire Council does not tolerate harassment or bullying in any capacity. We operate a clear policy on the appropriate use of social media for staff, both in the workplace and in a personal capacity. Whilst this policy does not extend to Elected Members, The National Code of Conduct for Councillors sets out the standards of behaviour expected of Councillors in Scotland.
“I can confirm that Councillor McCaskill will no longer hold the position of Leader of the Opposition in East Renfrewshire.”