A controversial Tweet from a Labour councillor in the Cabinet at Preston City Council has been branded "immature" and “disgraceful” by members of the Conservative group.
Coun Freddie Bailey, who was promoted to the role of Cabinet member for Community Wealth Building after the local elections in May, appeared to be celebrating 40,000 Twitter followers with a picture of him with young people at a festival burning a Conservative party poster.
In the Tweet, which he has since deleted, coun Bailey said: “40k followers on Twitter. Thanks people.” Behind him a man can be seen burning the blue poster, which had been covered in graffiti.
Retweeting the image Preston Conservatives hit back, calling coun Bailey a “Nazi” saying, “he’ll be burning the Torah next”. They also warned followers, “this is what a Corbyn future looks like”.
Coun Bailey denies burning the placard but asked why he then posted the picture online he said: "I just posted it" and added in a written statement, "This was ages ago".
In a statement he said: "I was at a music festival and in the dead of night walking back after seeing New Order and other DJ's; me and a mate were walking back to our tents and on the walk back we passed a group that we didn't know that had already lit the placard."
He also urged the conversation towards "the 14 million people that currently live in poverty in the UK rather than ignore the truth and focus on some teenagers messing about at a festival".
Asked if he thought it was appropriate for a person in his role as a Cabinet member to be issuing such pictures coun Bailey, who was unable to remember why he deleted the Tweet, said: "At the end of the day I will always try and stand up for people who are victimised."
In a statement following the fall out Conservative deputy group leader coun Ron Woollam said: “The burning of a political flag is disgraceful behaviour by coun Freddie Bailey, which could quite easily be construed as a hate crime and could be inflammatory.
“Such acts are offensive, and coming from an elected councillor are immature and lacking respect and responsibility.
“Are Labour in total disarray? First a cabinet member leaks a confidential report regarding the market via Twitter and then a different cabinet member burns a political flag.”
Leader of the city council Matthew Brown said: "I think Freddie acknowledges that it wasn't the wisest thing to put on social media. He's a young Cabinet member he's very hard working."
He then called for an apology from the Conservative group over their Nazi comment - although said that whether or not the Conservatives would get an apology from coun Bailey would be "a matter for Freddie".
He also told the Post there was "no comparison" between burning a political placard and being compared to a Nazi.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat group at the city council called on members of both parties to grow up.
Leader of the Lib Dems John Potter said: “We don’t care what they say to each other on Twitter, we are too busy knocking on doors and representing our residents.
“Maybe both sides should stop acting like children and remember the communities they are supposed to be representing.”