#ELLGE19: Exclusive – Lib Dem candidate’s ‘offensive’ tweets spark outrage

Ben Mathis Pic: Hackney Liberal Democrats

Eastlondonlines has discovered that Ben Mathis, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has posted a series of tweets in recent years which have used language which has been criticised as ‘offensive’ and ‘unacceptable.’

In a series of offensive and misogynistic tweets on his account, Mathis has used words such as ‘retard’ and ‘cunt’, whilst his tweets have included: “Woman bitching about having the Queen’s speech on pub TV – I thought the working classes were supposed to be patriotic.”   He also described television nutritionist Gillian McKeith as a ‘seed-pimp bitch.’

Mathias has now apologised for the tweets, saying he is ‘deeply sorry.’

The tweets were criticised by Alex Armitage, the Green Party candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, who told Eastlondonlines: ‘These comments are sexist, ableist, classist and derogatory. This type of language – and the attitudes implied – are not welcome in Hackney. I hope Ben Mathis reflects on this and will apologise publicly.” 

Mathis had previously signed the #stopthenastiness pledge, which seeks to prevent an atmosphere of fear in which those who shout the loudest get heard. According to the LibDems website, Mathis, who was born in the West Midlands, worked in the transport industry for seven years and is a keen naturalist.

Nationally, a number of female MPs have stepped down following a wave of online abuse.  

The issue peaked in the House of Commons when Paula Sheriff pleaded with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop using language such as ‘surrender’, arguing it enabled violent abuse to become the norm. 

Ben Mathis told Eastlondonlines: “As a regular user of Twitter for over a decade, I have taken part in many great conversations and robust debates, as well as occasionally using it as a place simply to vent.” 

“I try to do this in a reasonable and respectful tone, but I have recently been challenged over a small selection of tweets from some years back, and while some of them were written in very specific contexts, they are nevertheless not things I would say or write now.” 

“Anyone who knows me or has followed my account for any length of time will know that these tweets do not represent who I was then and certainly are not an accurate representation of who I am as a person today. I am deeply sorry to anyone I have upset or offended.” 

“The fight to Stop Brexit is far too important to be derailed by ill-advised tweets.” 

Mathis is contesting the seat held by Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, who has a majority of 35,000.

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