Resignation calls over councillor's pineapple retweets
- 29 August 2011
- From the section Stoke & Staffordshire
A Staffordshire councillor has defended reposting "offensive" tweets, described as advocating "genital mutilation" for teenage mothers, to encourage debate.
Labour Newcastle borough councillor Kyle-Noel Taylor retweeted a post about inserting pineapples into female body parts to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The 19-year-old said he wanted to raise awareness about teenage pregnancies.
He said retweeting other's opinions did not mean he endorsed those views. The Conservatives called for him to resign.
The Conservative Party group whip Mark Holland said his party took issue with the retweet, which some constituents said "promoted" genital mutilation.
'Retweets not endorsements'
Mr Holland said: "I have been approached by several residents of the borough who have read recent public statements made by Councillor Kyle-Noel Taylor... Among other things, I have been told that Councillor Taylor has reposted and promoted a comment from a member of the public, who advocated the genital mutilation of teenage mothers."
Mr Taylor said he had challenged the original author of the tweet and posted that opinion in order to demonstrate both sides of the debate about how some people viewed teenage pregnancies.
Mr Taylor added: "My bio does actually say retweets do not mean endorsements, just interest and that does say that on the bio."
He said it was important for councillors to interact with residents on social media sites to reply to complaints and deal with local issues.
He added that teenage pregnancy was a local issue for Kidsgrove and through his tweet he had been able to raise awareness and encourage a debate about it.
Mr Holland also objected to recent tweets by Mr Taylor calling Staffordshire Police "incompetent‟ and comparing the borough's recycling scheme awards to Adolf Hitler's decorations for bravery.
In a letter addressed to the Labour group leader Eddie Boden, Mr Holland said: "Councillor Taylor's opinions are insensitive, offensive, and unbecoming of a Borough Councillor.
"His public statements have rightly drawn criticism from Labour Party representatives in Stoke-on-Trent, and calls for his resignation."
The tweet relating to Adolf Hitler read: "Did you know Hitler was awarded Germany's highest award for bravery?
"Did you also know Newcastle BC has won lots of awards for recycling?"
"...Doesn't make it a great system."
A reply from one resident to Mr Taylor's tweet said: "I might not agree with your choice of party but I do agree with what you said about the NBC so called recycling scheme."
Mr Taylor added: "I don't want to be a populist politician and agree with people. I think it's always good to have a different viewpoint of somebody else and then cause that debate and that's what happened.
"I'm not sorry and I don't think I have offended anybody apart from the Conservatives."
The Kidsgrove ward councillor has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an unrelated police inquiry. The party said it would consider the tweeting issue next month.