Owl is proud to confirm that it has never, ever followed Swire on Twitter – for the simple reason it wouldn’t follow Mr Swire anywhere. Nor has Owl ever used Twitter to comment on Swire – finding East Devon Watch a more congenial platform from which to observe and comment on this rather tiresome person.
“An MP has been accused of disregarding his constituents after blocking online followers.
Sir Hugo Swire has apparently begun a purge of Twitter followers following a threat to “drain the swamp” of “vile” opposition after a bitter election battle.
Marketing and business student Sam Gosling, from Sidbury, tweeted the MP earlier this month to complain that wages were not keeping pace with inflation.
His post came in response to figures showing the South West has the highest employment rate of all the UK regions, which had been posted by Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish.
He said the statistics could hardly be good news for workers when “everyone’s getting poorer”.
Swire, who held onto his East Devon seat at the General Election with a reduced majority, responded by blocking the account, preventing him from following, viewing or commenting on posts.
The crackdown follows the Conservative’s angry claim in the aftermath of his victory that he and his family had received “vile” abuse on social media during the campaign.
Echoing Donald Trump, he said he was “taking time out to drain the swamp” of the “vile comments” of independent opponent Claire Wright and “her not so charming followers”.
Mr Gosling said he was “frankly appalled” at having been blocked by his own MP. “I’ve never tweeted or messaged him in any other way that could be deemed offensive,” he told Devon Live. “My last tweet to him was about understanding that unemployment has fallen but wages are going down.
“My mum, a midwife, has been losing wages in real terms for several years. I once asked him as well how he has represented East Devon whilst always voting along party lines.”
Swire, whose Twitter feed states that he does not reply to tweets, was criticised during the election campaign for not attending hustings events.
After his victory he said he was a “straight” fighter but now it was “time to call out” the people who had abused and in some cases libelled him.
Mr Gosling says blocking people it is just an easy way to “ignore and disregard the constituents you supposedly represent”.
“In terms of democracy this is shocking,” he added. “Hugo Swire is supposedly my MP and believes it is okay to totally disregard me as one of his constituents.
“I don’t understand if he thinks that blocking me will mean I won’t voice my opinion in some attempt to silence the people that disagree with him.
“I have felt left behind and excluded by my MP being a student from a working class family but this is a whole new level.
“I want to know why he didn’t turn up to the hustings. I want to know how he represents East Devon? I want to know why he feels it is okay to fail to engage in debate. I want answers but I’m worried that I’ll never get them from my MP as he fails to recognise democracy.”
Devon Live contacted Sir Hugo’s office for comment but the MP refuses to respond to enquiries from Devon Live or the Express and Echo.
His wife and personal assistant, Sasha, suggested that the former Foreign Office minister’s contribution to the Queen’s speech may of more interest than “the blocking of a few abusive tweets”.
Swire, who, before the opening of Parliamented attend two Vin D’Honneur receptions for new ambassador of Paraguay and new High Commissioner of Kingdom of Lesotho, called on the Government to use Budleigh Salterton and its high propertion of elderly people as a model for how Britain’s population will look in 2050.
He said it was now “incumbent on the Government to have a frank and honest consultation on how we fund and provide social care for the most vulnerable in our society” and made two offers.
Firstly, he said East Devon would act as a “the guinea pig for getting social care right in this country”.
Secondly, he called on the Government to build on the Dilnot report, which called for a £35,000 cap on care costs in 2011.
“We should leave nothing off the table, but a cross-party group should steer the Government forwards on this matter,” he added.
“Those are my two offers. As a humble Back Bencher, I will work with other Back Benchers to get social care right in this country, and I offer up Devon, particularly East Devon, as the guinea pig or template for trying to get a social care system that is properly integrated with the rest of the NHS.
“If we get it right there, we will get it right across the nation, and everyone, including our electorates, will be enormously grateful to us.”