Candidiate apologises over tweet

Ben Whittingham
Ben Whittingham
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A Labour candidate who sent an online message calling Winston Churchill a “racist” and a “white supremacist” has apologised.

Ben Whittingham has said he “regrets any offence caused” by his post on social networking site Twitter.

The 23-year-old, who was selected to contest the Wyre and Preston North MP seat, came under fire from Conservative MP Ben Wallace, who currently holds the seat, after the controversial tweet went ‘viral’ online.

However, Mr Whittingham claims the tweet has been taken out of context.

Mr Whittingham said:“Ben Wallace has been publicising a tweet I made 18 months ago in the context of a debate about who should front the new set of bank notes.

“I naturally regret any offence that may have been caused by this tweet, in which I quoted an article about a famous historian of Churchill.

“I hope that the campaign leading up to next May’s election will focus on the need for a cleaner, fairer politics than we are used to.”

Mr Wallace had demanded Mr Whittingham make a public apology.

He has now been accused by the Labour campaign of being a “tactician”.

Bob Denmark, of the Labour Campaign Group, said: “On the one side we have an aspirational, forward-looking young Labour candidate, unafraid to speak his mind and on the other we have an experienced Tory political tactician whose attack on Ben Whittingham is a contrived outrage.”

Mr Whittingham made the comment on Twitter in response to moves to feature the former Prime Minister on the new £5 note.

The former special constable, who studied modern languages at Edinburgh University, tweeted: “Bit disappointed Churchill is on the new £5 given he was a racist and white supremacist. Can’t go into the future with a foot in the past.”

But today Mr Wallace said he was still unimpressed by Mr Whittingham’s apology.

He added: “A full apology should be humble.

“He has made an effort of an apology and readers will make up their own mind about it.

“The best thing is really for him to learn his lesson.”