What is it with certain members of the Medway Conservatives and social media? Following the three year long debacle of Mike Franklin, news reaches us that yet another Medway Conservative seems to have been suspended for sharing offensive content.
Several readers reached out to us with the news that Gloria Thienel, a Medway Conservative candidate for Peninsula, has been suspended from the party over her social media content. She blocked us from following her months ago, but screenshots provided to us show rather unpleasant content about immigration and Muslims, as well as sharing bizarre conspiracy theories such as Mossad being behind the 7/7 bombings. Some examples of this content are shown below.
The timing of this apparent suspension lines up very well with a Guardian piece from this week, where they reported 40 Conservative candidates across the country had been suspended for similar reasons.
We reached out to various figures within Medway Conservatives to seek confirmation on this story. None were willing to, but just as tellingly, none of them would deny it either.
Cllr Gary Etheridge, chairman of the Rochester and Strood Conservative Association, told us that she remains a candidate and to comment any further would be a breach of GDPR. He is right in that she would remain a candidate no matter what as the nominations cannot be changed at this stage. Cllr Phil Filmer, her ward colleague in Peninsula, told us that, er, it would be a breach of GDPR to say anything but she remains a candidate. Which definitely clears things up.
We live in a strange world where GDPR can be used as an excuse for voters to not know that a candidate in an election they voting in has been suspended from their party. Quite how this would breach any kind of data protection rules is rather beyond us, and a cynic would suggest the party would rather no one knows about this happening right on top of an election.
All of which leaves voters in Peninsula in a slightly odd position. In only five days they are being asked to vote for a candidate who will appear on the ballot paper as a Medway Conservative despite the fact they may be suspended from the party. If she wins – which is a far from unlikely scenario – she would be starting her term as an independent, and not as a representative of the party voters may have thought they were voting for.
If the Medway Conservatives believe any part of this story to be inaccurate and would like to clarify anything, or they would like to issue a statement on this situation, we will be very happy to publish that in full if they get in touch.
Updated 28 April: The BBC have confirmed that Gloria Thienel has indeed been suspended from the Medway Conservatives.