A former government minister has called for a fortnightly newspaper editor to resign after publishing a “sickening and horrible” quote about dead politicians.
Anna Soubry, who left her role as Small Business Minister last month, criticised Beeston Express editor Sheila Eden over the comment in the paper’s ‘Smile Corner’ section.
The offending comment – “a statesman is a dead politician. We need more statesmen” – is a quote attributed to American journalist Bob Edwards.
But Ms Soubry, who serves as MP for the Nottinghamshire constituency of Broxtowe, said the comment showed “appallingly bad judgement” in the wake of the recent death of Labour MP Jo Cox.
In a statement, she said: “[It] appears just six weeks after MP Jo Cox died. I am sure the Beeston Express editor and owner, Sheila Eden, was not condoning the killing of MPs but she has demonstrated appallingly bad judgement in randomly publishing this unknown quote in a so-called Smile Corner.
“Far from being funny it has offended and indeed upset many of her readers, some of whom have complained to me. Ms Eden should not only issue an immediate apology but should consider whether she really is fit to continue to run this publication.”
Sheila has apologised to readers offended by the comment’s publication, but told HTFP she had “no intention” of resigning.
She said: “The quote was by a popular radio presenter in America, whose shows have won many awards. I used it in my ‘Smile Corner’ in an edition when television was full of news stories from the Democrat and Republican conventions in the States – if there’s one thing that drives me mad it’s what appears to be non-stop coverage of USA politics in the national UK news, and I’d had enough!
“Smile Corner is a regular slot in The Beeston Express which, theoretically, should bring a smile to readers’ faces. It was not intended as a comment on any individual but, with the benefit of hindsight, I realise that its use was too close to the tragic death of MP Jo Cox, and therefore may have appeared insensitive to some people, which was not my intention. I did not mean to offend and apologise to anyone who felt that way.
“I am editor of a paper which I set up and have successfully recorded community news about Beeston and the nearby area for 13 years. The paper is quite popular with its regular readers. I am a one-person band doing everything within my power to get the paper out, which can mean long, tiring days to meet deadlines.
“I always endeavour to maintain the paper’s integrity. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I can only apologise for my lapse under pressure, but I have no intention of quitting.”