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Ex-minister calls on editor to quit over ‘dead politicians’ quote

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.

Beeston Smile

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.”


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  • August 11, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Here’s the thing with “free speech”: you either have it or you don’t. You don’t get to choose the bits of “free speech” you like.

    FWIW I’m offended by almost every word the vile Anna Soubry spouts but I defend her right to say it.

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  • August 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Looked at logically I cannot see what the Rt Hon Anna Soubry is making such a fuss about. Besides, I recall a whole stack of readers letters (including one from me) in the Nottingham Post and in the national press criticising Ms Soubry for her ill-placed remarks immediately following the referendum result. But she has not resigned from being a MP. This is just another example of Ms Soubry liking to seek attention, this time at the expense of a local hard working newspaper editor.

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  • August 11, 2016 at 11:57 am

    It was a bad judgement, and looking at the editor’s explanation it’s easy to see how that could have happened. But that is part of publishing – you get some things right, some things wrong. And Anna Soubry has every right to complain, although I think calling for the editor to quit is over the top.
    One final point: this illustrates the dangers of doing everything yourself, with no-one to bounce ideas off or check your work over. #EveryoneNeedsAGoodSub

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  • August 11, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    An ex-journalist and barrister, Soubry “has a record of unusually free speech” according to The Independent’s Simon Carr. He once wrote it would be her job to popularise a “stop moaning” message: the “keep calm and carry on” candidate.”
    Stay with it Sheila.

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  • August 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Yes Ms Soubry, like everybody else, has a right to complain but in her case, like in this instance, likes to meddle. It is not unlike her feigned looks of indignation on her regular appearances on BBC QT and elsewhere. Calling for the editor to quit was indeed over the top; it was completely unnecessary under the circumstances. Ms Soubry should be embarrassed for this unwarranted attack on the Beeston Express editor. But as many people know Ms Soubry likes being the centre if attention – anything to get publicity, perhaps even more so now that she is not a Minister.

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  • August 12, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I seem to recall a story about Anna Soubry’s mother being in tears about the Brexit result. With a daughter like that, Mother Soubry should be able to keep Kleenex in business for the next 100 years.

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