With friends like these, who needs dissidents?
The Conservative Friends of Russia attack on Chris Bryant MP has led to their honorary president Sir Malcolm Rifkind resigning
Late last night I said that the two best things happening on Twitter (or at least, on my Twitter feed) were Guido Fawkes winding up Mehdi Hasan over the HuffPo's hypocrisy and the "comms meltdown" of the Conservative Friends of Russia.
They had run an article accusing Labour MP and well known Putin critic, Chris Bryant, of neglecting his duties to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Russia. A fair cop and quite a nice story. But for some reason they illustrated the piece (which has mysteriously disappeared) with an infamous photo that Bryant had taken of himself in just his underwear.
The Rhondda MP took to Twitter, telling the Conservative Friends of Russia that he thought it was a bit out of order, or words to that effect. There then followed a fairly undignified exchange where allegations of homophobia were made and the Kremlin-cosy conservatives got rather defensive.
In response to my observation that the CFoR were having a bit of commstastrophe, they said: "You mean try to get him to answer a question without continually referring to his sexuality?"
"No," I said. "I mean pick your battles."
In the Twitter stakes, CFoR picking a fight with Chris Bryant MP is an unwise move, especially when the debate included reference to the latter's sexuality and allegations of Russian nepotism.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, was the group's Honorary President but has today resigned, citing this totally avoidable disaster as "the last straw."
This should be a reminder to everyone that firing off a few defensive tweets from your iPhone might seem like good fun, but if you're on shaky ground from the outset, the best thing to do is stop digging.
The Conservative Friends of Russia are looking a little light on the friend count now.
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