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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Liam Thorp

Row erupts as Labour denies councillor is behind troll account after deleted tweet

The Labour Party has denied suggestions that a Liverpool Councillor is behind a troll twitter account that regularly mocks political rivals after a tweet was quickly deleted over the weekend.

A number of spoof Twitter accounts have been set up aiming to mock members of the Liverpool Community Independents political group in the city in recent months.

The Community Independents are made up of a number of former Labour councillors who quit the party last year in protest at its budget plans and formed their own political group on the council. Community Independents candidates are taking on their former party in a number of seats in this week's elections and another war of words has broken out between the groups.

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One troll account has been set up as a mock up of the Independents Group as a whole, while a separate account has been made to specifically target Garston Councillor Sam Gorst under the title 'Spam Gorst.'

Over the weekend, Liverpool Labour Councillor Tom Cardwell tweeted a message that sounded similar to some of the content put out on the spoof accounts.

His tweet was responding to a tweet from former Labour Councillor Gerard Woodhouse, who was complaining about leaflets put out by Labour targeting him in his area.

Retweeting the whole exchange, Cllr Cardwell tweeted: "Comrades, both myself and @mygibbo (Community Independents leader Alan Gibbons) would strongly encourage Big Ged (referring to Cllr Woodhouse) to go straight to the police as we did."

This comment appears to refer to a row over Labour leaflets targeting Cllr Gorst which was referred to the police.

The tweet continued: "Watch out for @MerseyPolice @LiamThorpECHO @LivEchonews who will publish the results of the police intervention soon. #SmearedWithTruth.

After being posted from Cllr Cardwell's personal account, it was deleted minutes later.

The tweet appeared to use very similar language to that used by the 'Spam Gorst' account and the independents group have suggested it links Cllr Cardwell to the troll account. Labour say this is not the case.

Interim Community Independents group leader Alan Gibbons claimed the deleted tweet showed that Cllr Cardwell had been 'caught out' as being involved with the troll accounts that were 'set up to smear political and factional opponents.'

Cllr Tom Cardwell currently represents the Speke-Garston ward on Liverpool Council (Liverpool Council)

He added: "These accounts have posted unacceptable misogynistic, racist and homophobic abuse as well as defamatory accusations. They can’t be dismissed as mere satire.

"This latest scandal fits a pattern of gutter tactics from Labour, following an ugly hate mail campaign in Garston. The fact that Liverpool Labour choose to hide their attacks behind phoney newspapers and anonymous accounts shows their profound cowardice.

"It is one more example of the toxic culture exposed by the Caller Report, which despite Labour's talk of an 'improvement journey' has gone from bad to worse. Newly elected group leader Liam Robinson was supposed to clean up the party's behaviour; instead, he has allowed them to sink deeper into the sewer.

He added: "Unable to defend their record of incompetence, waste and corruption scandals, Liverpool Labour resorts to cowardly personal attacks. We will not stoop to Labour’s infantile level, but continue to focus on debating policy and scrutinising people’s records.

"We want to transform the city council into one that is honest, accountable and serves the people. They go low, we go high."

After the ECHO contacted Cllr Cardwell and the local Labour group over the tweet, a spokesperson responded to say: "This is a bit rich coming from the independents. Tom simply tweeted a satirical message, copying the style of accounts that have a go at the hypocrisy of the independents. He then thought better of it and deleted it."

In a strong attack on the Community Independents, the group spokesperson added: ”The fact is they don’t like being held responsible for the things they’ve previously said. All their nasty comments are now coming back to haunt them and we have made it clear that we will continue to remind voters about who these people are: A bunch of nasty crackpots, who are now peddling conspiracy theories.

“They have no policies, no plan and no workable ideas to offer. A vote for them is a vote to turn the clock back on Liverpool. It will be back to the 1980s and Militant-style posturing and division. Big talk that they can’t back up, while they bankrupt the council in the process.

”People across the city are now seeing them for what they are. That’s why they’re being ‘attacked’ on social media and are crying foul and blaming us. At a time when ordinary families are battling against the worst cost of living crisis in a generation their self-pitying whining is truly pathetic.“

Responding for the Community Independents, Cllr Gibbons added: "The fact that Labour have chosen to both deny responsibility for and double down on this behaviour with a flurry of further childish insults shows them for what they are: totally unfit for public office. Liverpool deserves so much better than this."

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