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Saturday, October 06, 2007


This morning's Western Mail reports that yet another Labour researcher has lost his job over blogging. The paper tells us that Marcus Warner, who worked for Islwyn AM Irene James, was forced to leave after material he posted on a number of blogs was deemed “offensive and inappropriate”. His departure follows that of David Collins, who resigned from his job as a researcher with Vale of Clwyd AM, Ann Jones, after describing Welsh as a “brain-dead language”.

The article is remarkably short of any further details. Fortunately, the Welsh blogosphere has stepped into the breach and given us the full story. Alwyn ap Huw on his blog Miserable Old Fart tells us that Marcus Warner's sacking was not for comments he made but because it was his blog that hosted David Collin's comments in the first place.

Marcus Warner takes up the story on his new blog (entry since deleted):

I was recently dismissed from my job with Ms. James for an 'irretrievable breakdown in trust' which stemmed from essentially me keeping a blog- Keir hardly. I had kept the keir hardly blog as i have a great passion for welsh politics and harbour ambitions of being an elected member in the future. Although i did not declare i was keeping a blog to Ms. James, i never once ever was under the impression contractually or by making an agreement that it was against any code of conduct. The only reason it came to light that i was keeping the blog was because a fellow ex-researcher Dave Collins, left his now infamous 'brain dead' comment on my blog. Ironically, the first thing i did was inform the Labour group office that i had deleted the blog and that indeed it was my blog he had written it on as comments that were being left were offensive. I feel very angry that i have lost my job, and it has left me with a very bleak financial future. Ms James was fully aware that my partner is now 6 months pregnant, and that we had recently just purchased a house which meant our finances were very tight. Her mistreatment of me is unnacceptable and cowardly, and i feel that there is something wrong with the whole premise of researchers being sacked for keeping blogs. To sum up...

I have a very good mind to expose some of the things i learned during my time with Ms James, and i think it is in the public interest quite frankly. Primarily i am angry and upset that my livelihood has been taken away from me in such a callous way and put my family under huge pressure, let alone worrying about whether we lose the house we have just bought.

Although Assembly Members are at liberty to manage their staff as they wish, it is beginning to look as if the thought Police are running rampant within the Labour Group.

Oh and before somebody suggests that I would have done the same, I should say that I have employed a member of staff who got into trouble politically and publicly for a thoughtless, stupid and irresponsible remark on a blog. I did not sack her nor did I require her to resign. She apologised and retracted the remark and we left it at that.

Your post nicely summed up the situation. Although they both (Collins and Warner) seem pretty aggressive and fairly typical local party activists...to the extent of being ocasionally odious...some of the vitriole around the blogs has been shocking.

Can people hear themselves? Do people really want someone to lose their job? Is life in Britain so personally vicious these days that we can actively campaign for people to lose their jobs? The one exception would be perhaps for elected officials, but that would be through the ballot box.

Frankly, I am stunned at the reaction of the Welsh AMs (one for accepting the resignation of Collins, one for sacking Warnr).

Collins should have had a good verbal hiding...and the opportunity to humbly apologise (which he has done). Warner would appear (judging only by his own story) to be guilty only of actively promoting the views of his party.

Horrific. Thank God, I'm a Lib Dem - possibly the only party to be concerned enough to denounce the views of Collins, yet also believe passionately in his right to free speech.

I would gladly revel in an opposing activist's or campaigner's embarrassment and shame; but not - ever, ever - cry for them to lose their jobs.

Is it any wonder that politics is viewed with such contempt by ordinary people?
Thanks for posting that Peter.

I haven't read the blogs for a while and was very sorry to read about Marcus.

He was right to end his blog "Renewed Labour" because it could cause some controversy and effect his new job. So why go and do an anonymous blog?

I can't understand anyone risking their job for a blog. Only a tiny fraction of the electorate read them, and I didn't even know there was a Keir Hardly blog.

I just hope he can get another job soon. It's also a waste of his undoubted talents.
Sadly, Marcus isn't alone. If he reads this I am sorry to hear about his predicament and I hope that he lands on his feet soon.

I'm afraid that he is not alone in this, as it has already happened to another in Wales which hasn't reached the papers yet. He was wise not to reveal anything and contact a solicitor. I hope that he also contacts a Union rep as soon as possible and completes a claim for an employment tribunal.

'An old friend'
I am sorry what happened to Marcus and Dave though. I am a welsh language speaker and was offended by the remark. It should have been a slap on the wrist and a apology and not a sacking.

I am sorry for what happened to Marcus. But that what happens when you work to clueless bint like Irene James (somewhere in the valleys, a co-op is missing a checkout lady...)
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