Scots Tory election candidates under fire for insults

A Tory candidate for next year’s Scottish Parliament elections has sneered at children’s carers, saying they looked like “the great unwashed”.

Colin McGavigan, a candidate for Clydesdale, South Lanarkshire, used his account on the Twitter social networking site to publicise the insult. He said: “Why do the carers look like the great unwashed. They’re supposed to be carers not warders.”

His gaffe emerged hours after another Tory, Ivor Tiefenbrun, quit as candidate for Maryhill and Springburn, Glasgow, after claims he called Scots “thick” for disliking Margaret Thatcher.

Mr McGavigan’s comments were made after he watched a BBC Panorama programme, Kids In Care, which spent six months following children in the charge of Coventry Social Services.

Clydesdale Labour MSP Karen Gillon said: “These comments show the Tories have not changed. Most Scots will regard carers as people who do an important job and they deserve to be treated with greater respect.

“Conservatives are still reeling from the row over Ivor Tiefenbrun’s comments that Scots are thick. This is yet more evidence the Tories are out of touch with ordinary families and there is no way back for them.”

Aileen Campbell, the South of Scotland SNP MSP, said it was “another example of how little the Tories understand Scotland”. She added: “Carers make a huge contribution to society and deserve our thanks and respect. Tory candidates should not be adding insults to the injuries their cuts are inflicting on services, carers and those they care for across the country.”

Mr McGavigan said the comment was “merely a tweet” made late at night at a part of the documentary where he felt “carers were being badly portrayed and what was being shown at that point was a poor representation of the great work carried out by carers in our society”.

He added: “My mother worked in a similar care institution for 30 years where I was heavily involved in their community events in my younger days. I know first hand the great and often difficult work they do.

“I have the utmost respect for the great and often unsung work carried out by carers in our society and in no way would I wish to give the impression I have anything other than deep admiration and the utmost respect for them and the work they carry out.”

He claimed that with so few (140) characters to use on a Twitter message, he understood where “some confusion could arise” if his comments were taken out of context.

A Conservative Party spokesman said he did not know if Mr McGavigan would remain as its candidate.

The controversy broke as Mr Tiefenbrun, who owns hi-tech sound system manufacturer Linn Products, “volunteered” to resign as the candidate for Maryhill and Springburn.

He said: “There are many important issues facing our country and I have no desire for anything to divert my party, or the media, from concentrating on those vital challenges.”

Scottish Tory Party chairman Andrew Fulton said Mr Tiefenbrun’s decision had been taken in the “best interests of the party”.