No apology necessary for this chirpy tweet

By Keith Newbery

Tuesday, April 29, 2014



IF CLLR Chris White-house doesn’t unclench his buttocks soon, he’s in danger of doing himself some serious damage.

His absurdly pious outburst about the tweet posted on the official Southern Vectis account recently was a supreme example of someone taking themselves too seriously for their own good — and ours.

For some peculiar reason, Cllr Whitehouse is of the opinion that after being elected a member of the IW Council, he has assumed control of the Island’s moral compass.

So, when a member of Southern Vectis staff tweeted: "No delays so far. Some stunning females walking through tonight. I think it’s time for a coffee and a cake mmm," his outrage knew no bounds.

"The women of the Island deserve better than to be ogled and tweeted about in such a crude, crass and chauvinistic manner," he trumpeted, like some Victorian patriarch rushing around to cover the table legs lest they should inflame unseemly passions.

Then (as if speaking for the rest of us) he called for the company to apologise and take disciplinary action against the member of staff responsible.

Southern Vectis, rather stupidly, went along with the first part and its general manager, Matt Kitchin, said the company realised the tweet was completely unacceptable and apologised unreservedly for any offence caused.

It wasn’t and they shouldn’t have, so it’s unfortunate people like Mr Kitchin are still intimidated by the sanctimonious blather of a blow-hard who has seen fit to act as the self-appointed conscience of the Island.

If Southern Vectis was foolish enough to go through with Cllr Whitehouse’s second suggestion and inflict the ultimate sanction upon the employee concerned, I hope he or she takes the company for all it’s worth at an industrial tribunal and then follows up by seeking retribution from the councillor himself for suggesting such a thing in the first place.

If Cllr Whitehouse genuinely believes the comments to have been crude and crass, then he has been sheltered from the realities of life to a worrying degree.

I’ve yet to meet any woman who would object to being described as "stunning" but, as you might expect, there is more to this contrived spasm of indignation than meets the eye.

Cllr Whitehouse is a Conservative, which makes his outburst against inoffensive free speech all the more deplorable. But rumour has it he has his eye on a much bigger prize.

He has been cosying up to MP Andrew Turner since the internecine squabble over his re-adoption as the Tory candidate at next year’s election — and whispers are rife his motives might not have been entirely altruistic.

You will recall the good councillor’s spluttering eruption earlier this year when he denounced as a "nasty cabal" and "poisonous" (he does enjoy a florid turn of phrase) the Conservative members who had the nerve to express the opinion Mr Turner may not have been the wisest choice to represent the Island for another five years.

It was a perfectly valid point of view but as far as Cllr Whitehouse is concerned, freedom of choice and speech is only acceptable if it happens to concur with his own viewpoints and opinions.

I am not a gambling man but even I am tempted to place a confident bob or two on his putting himself forward as one of the candidates to replace Andrew Turner in 2020.

When the time comes, we can only hope his strident and blinkered attitude fails to endear him to the selection panel.

Incidentally, I was surprised to discover he is, by profession, a public affairs consultant, which means he advises organisations on the most effective way to conduct themselves in public, so I thought a visit to his website might prove educational.

There it states: 'We help hone our clients’ messages to ensure relevancy to each audience they address, training them if necessary to ensure they perform to the best of their ability in front of a range of audiences and stakeholders …’

Island audiences and stakeholders are already beginning to tire of his pompous, self-serving, squawks — but I fear we are in line for plenty more over the next six years.

A word of advice, Cllr Whitehouse, if I may be so bold. Do as you say, don’t do as you do.

Why I’ll never be LinkedIn to Twitter

I have to tread carefully here for fear of stomping all over delicate sensibilities. It is not a process that comes easily to me — but here goes.

A dear old friend, a person I barely know and a couple who are total strangers have been pestering me by e-mail to join them on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

I suspect the insidious social networking sites themselves are behind the invitations, which add by way of persuasion: "Did you know that Jonathan Shackleton, @raileasy, Pewsey Carnival and seven others are also on Twitter?"

The answer is no and I couldn’t care less any way.

I will never tweet and I have no interest in having an on-line relationship with "like-minded professionals".

I think Twitter is a pointless and fairly despicable invention, which causes far more harm than good, and I am only interested in exchanging opinions with people who have the courage to identify themselves first.

I hope that’s clear and that we can all move on.

• Read Keith Newbery's latest column in today's Isle of Wight County Press, Friday, May 2.

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