A young Tory student leader has been expelled from the party and suspended by the
for making vile homophobic comments online. Universityof Central Lancashire
"Vile", they say! What an excellent example of fair and unbiased reporting! Still, it's only the local press: I doubt many journalists on regional papers can even spell 'impartiality', let alone put it into practice.
Fergus Bowman, a second-year politics and religion student from
Lancashire, resigned as chairman of the Conservative Future society at UCLan's Students' Union when the comments, on social networking site Facebook, came to light.
He has since been thrown out of the Tory party by national officials.
Mr Bowman, 22, who lives in Catterall near Garstang, has also been banned from the Students' Union while the university investigates. He has apologised to a student newspaper for his comments.
The comments have now been removed from Facebook, but copies seen by the Lancashire Evening Post show Bowman was listed as the head of a group called "Homos burn in hell".
Its homepage featured a picture of a hooded Klu Klux Klan [sic - what was I just saying about standards among representatives of the local press?] member beside a burning cross and the remark "everyone knows homosexuality is against God's wishes".
So, Mr - or should I say, Grand Wizard - Bowman is clearly an out-and-out Nazi. Either that or the picture of a KKK member and the over-the-top language indicates that this group is a bit of a joke.
Mr Bowman went on to make a reference to the link between homosexuals and the AIDS virus.
On another webpage, showing an obscene picture of a man exposing his private parts, Bowman wrote: "And people wonder why I'm anti-semetic."
Again, is this more likely to be an admission that he curls up at night with a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or a joke (possibly one in poor taste, but a joke nonetheless)?
And he branded members of Garstang Country Hotel and Golf Club, which is near his home, as "semi-civilized, illiterate degenerates" on another forum.
The Conservative Party and student leaders have united to condemn Mr Bowman's comments, some of which were made on webpages which anyone could access freely.
A Tory spokesman said: "Fergus Bowman's comments are appalling and we condemn them absolutely.
"He has been expelled from the Conservative party. There's no place for homophobia in today's
"The Conservative party actively support gay rights."
Students' Union president Chris Lowden said: "We are committed to equal opportunities.
"Fergus's comments breached our constitution. We cannot and will not tolerate such material coming out from one of our members."
A UCLan spokesman confirmed Bowman had been suspended from university while an internal investigation is held. It is expected to take two to three weeks.
Personally, I think that the Tory Party, the university, and the students' union are all guilty of a gross overreaction. It seems quite clear that Bowman was, at worst, guilty of making jokes in somewhat poor taste. Well, so what? Since when were undergraduates expected to behave like paragons of virtue? And, in any event, it's not like he was inciting murder, is it?
But if the Tory Party want to expel him, then I suppose that that is their right. True, doing so may make them look like a bunch of humourless, censorious, liberals, but as an independent political party they have a right to choose who they do, and who they do not, want as their members.
Still, I suppose that Fergus Bowman should just be grateful that Jack Straw's wonderful new anti-thought crime laws aren't in place yet. If they were, he could be looking at seven years in chokey...