Nigel Nelson sends warning to politicians about social media amid the election race: 'It will haunt you!'

Rishi Sunak and Nigel Nelson

Nigel Nelson (pictured right) advised politicians to go through their social media and delete anything they might struggle to stand by

PA/ GB News
Nigel Nelson

By Nigel Nelson

Published: 12/06/2024

- 17:26

"Social media has added an extra layer of slipperiness to the greasy poll of a political career," says Nigel Nelson

There was a time when parents only needed to warn their kids of stranger danger. Social media changed that. Now they have to add the risk from the X-files into the mix.

They should tell their sons and daughters: “If you want to grow up to be prime minister, do be careful what you post on X, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and the rest. One day some journalist will come trawling through everything - and anything out of place will return to haunt you.”

Perhaps Ian Gribbin didn’t get this advice from his mum and dad, or if he did he clearly ignored it. But once he became a Reform UK parliamentary candidate it was embarrassing to be reminded that in July, 2022 he wrote on a website that Britain would have been “far better” if it had “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality” instead of fighting the Nazis in World War Two.

And just to complete this act of political self-immolation, he added: “We need to exorcise the cult of Churchill and recognize that in both policy and military strategy, he was abysmal.”

The only thing which could have been worse for Rishi Sunak than leaving the 80th anniversary commemoration of D-Day early would have been to announce it would not have been necessary had we had a cup of tea and a civilised sit down with that nice Mr Hitler.

Mr Gribbin complained that his comments had been taken out of context, as was the one in which he dubbed women the “sponging gender” who should be “deprived of health care.” Having lost the support of Churchill fans, that’s his female vote down the Swanee. He, of course, apologised for his comments and withdrew them unreservedly, as these people do in such situations.

Anyone thinking of entering politics should learn a lesson from Mr Gribbin. Whatever goes online stays online. Social media has added an extra layer of slipperiness to the greasy poll of a political career.

Just look how many election candidates from all parties have been dropped during this campaign. All it takes is for some ill-advised posts from the past to come back to bite them on the bottom.

For some reason those who will later aspire to be politicians make more serious gaffes than ordinary people.This post. for instance, might leave its author feeling silly but it’s not career ending. “How on earth did they film Jurassic Park? I don’t understand how they could get sooo close to the dinosaurs #confused.” Or this: “How do you know if you’re lack toast and tolerant or not?”

Even before the advent of social media a few words out of place could bring careers crashing down. Just ask jeweller Gerald Ratner, the Sultan of Bling.

He thought he was joking with his audience at the Institute of Directors in 1991 when he told them: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’, I say, ‘because it’s total crap.’”

And he compounded the faux pas by adding that a set of earrings sold in his shops was cheaper than a prawn sandwich - but the sandwich would probably last longer.

The Ratner group lost £500million as its value plummeted and Gerald lost his job.

In 2010 then PM Gordon Brown had his election campaign thrown into disarray when a microphone he had forgotten to take off picked him up calling a Labour supporter a “bigoted woman” after she tackled him on the economy and immigration.

Boris Johnson hid in a fridge stacked with milk bottles to avoid a TV interviewer during the 2019 campaign, and on the 2001 election trail deputy PM John Prescott punched a voter.

While this did not seem to do Labour much harm at the time, it would be best not to deploy this too often as a canvassing technique.


So here’s a check list for every politician as we go into the final three weeks of the election race.

1) Look back at your social media and delete anything you might struggle to stand by.

2) Treat every microphone you encounter as live.

3) And don’t stand in front of one which makes you look like you've grown a Hitler moustache.

4) Check your backdrop before being photographed. If you’re standing in front of a big high street sign advertising “Doorknobs on sale here”, remember how easy it is to crop out the word ”door”.

5) And if you’re invited to a World War Two commemoration event stay till the very end.

Good luck.

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