A FORMER Conservative district councillor has criticised his de-selection for next year’s county council elections in a row over social media posts regarding the Coronavirus lockdown.
Matt Snape spoke out after he was thrown off the party’s list of candidates for May’s elections by the Mid Worcestershire Conservative Association’s executive board following a hearing on November 15.
He was removed despite having been approved as a candidate to fight the Evesham seat by local party members.
Although the association would not comment on the complaint specifically, Mr Snape said he was accused of publishing negative opinions about elected members and their performance.
Evidence presented at the hearing and seen by the Observer shows strong anti-lockdown views and criticism of Cabinet members such as Health Secretary Matt Hancock which were reposted onto his personal Twitter page by Mr Snape.
Among the articles retweeted was a piece by Laura Perrins, co-editor of The Conservative Woman, entitled ‘The Covid-fascist regime aims to crush you – resist it.’ As well as reposting the piece, Mr Snape wrote a comment to say ‘great article’.
He also reposted a Tweet which claimed Josef Mengele, who performed experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz, ‘would have been proud’ of Mr Hancock and liked a comment which described Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a ‘despicable piece of filth’.
Mr Snape stressed the like was made in error while scrolling through the social network.
Speaking to the Observer, Mr Snape accepted the language of some of the tweets ‘wasn’t the best’ but said: “As a freelance journalist for a start-up publication, I retweet controversial stuff to interact with my readers and generate hits.
“From March to the present day, I have written articles which have been critical of lockdowns being imposed across the world as too damaging to younger generations and the economy.
“I believe in the long-term, they are going to be proven to be ineffective.
“I fully supported the Government’s pledge to shield the vulnerable.
“I helped a district councillor to create a list of volunteers and I delivered letters about this group around my old ward of Evesham South.
“I did not see an issue with sharing tweets which are legal, thought-provoking and drive clicks through to my content.”
Mr Snape said had he been confirmed as a candidate he would have created a new account to promote his campaign and made his private account anonymous.
The 30-year-old represented Evesham South on Wychavon District Council from 2017 to 2019 and questioned whether elected MPs who have openly opposed lockdowns such as 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady would be questioned over their views.
“The retweets aren’t racist, they don’t tell people to vote Labour or any other party, they aren’t against the guidelines of Twitter and they mostly echo opinions widely held in the membership of the Conservative Party, including elected members,” Mr Snape claimed.
“Laura Perrins is a leading conservative commentator and was named as one of the top 100 women to watch by the BBC. These aren’t fringe conspiracy theory lunatics but legitimate conservative commentators with large followings.”
Mr Snape confirmed he had now resigned from the party after 13 years as a member.
In response, an association spokesperson said: “The Conservative Party has a selection procedure which allows for fairness and integrity in candidate selections.
“This process has been followed by Mid Worcestershire Conservative Association in accordance with official party guidance to ensure candidates uphold and represent values which accord with the party.
“That includes taking into consideration information on social media that may be relevant to the process.
“Any member who is subject to a selection decision they disagree with is entitled to appeal.”