Conservatives suspend candidate over ‘offensive’ comments

LONDON (Reuters) – The Conservative party said yesterday it had suspended a candidate just days before the May 6 election after he made “deeply offensive and unacceptable” comments on his website.

The party withdrew its support for Philip Lardner’s candidacy in the Scottish constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran after he wrote: “Homosexuality is not ‘normal behaviour’.”

“The views expressed … are deeply offensive and unacceptable and as a result he has been suspended as a member of the Conservative party,” the party statement said.

“These views have no place in the modern Conservative party.”

The seat is currently held by Labour. As it is too late to put forward a new candidate, Lardner’s name will remain on the ballot paper but the Conservatives will not campaign for him, a party spokeswoman said.

Earlier this month, gay rights campaigners accused the Conservative party of tolerating prejudice after home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling was reported to have sympathised with people who offer guest accommodation in their own homes but turn away gay couples.

He later said any suggestion he opposed gay rights was “wholly wrong”.
Labour has been forced to withdraw support for candidates during the run-up to the election after inappropriate comments made on websites.

Labour candidate for South East Cambridgeshire, John Cowan, was suspended on Monday after boasting of his sexual exploits and other offensive comments.

On April 9, Labour fired Stuart MacLennan, parliamentary candidate for the Scottish constituency of Moray, after he posted profanity-laced comments about Labour and opposition politicians, celebrities and local people on the online micro-blogging service Twitter.

Liberal Democrats candidate for Wrekin, in Shropshire, David Murray, was forced to withdraw his candidacy earlier this month, after the launch of an unspecified police investigation.

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