“Politics experts quizzed by DevonLive had little sympathy for East Devon MP Hugo Swire’s complaints that he had been bullied on Twitter, with one accusing him of being a “sore winner”. As reported yesterday, Mr Swire said supporters of Independent rival Claire Wright had “lied to and libelled” him on the social media network.
Ms Wright lost her battle to claim the East Devon seat against the Tory incumbent, but was by far the most successful independent candidate in the country in Thursday’s poll.
In a panel interview the Exeter University politics expert Professor Jason Reifler said that robust discourse was part of the British political system.
“Politics is not for the faint-hearted, and if you are going to get into it, particularly in the national system, you have to weather some attacks,” he said.
“It’s never good to go after someone’s family or say something about a candidate but those things do happen. Far more distressing are attacks on the democratic process. People don’t like sore losers, they also don’t like sore winners, this would be a good opportunity to show the stereotypical British stiff upper lip.”
Former Lib Dem Devon County Councillor Des Hannon said: “I think attacks on people’s families are absolutely out whichever way they go, that’s just not acceptable but anything that’s at Hugo, frankly he pretty much incited himself by his attacks on Claire Wright and also as part of an absolutely entrenched establishment in East Devon which has assumed it has a right to rule permanently there with no flexibility and Claire is feeding off that – the more he protests this the better it will be for her.”