A PROSPECTIVE Conservative candidate says he has been stripped of the chance to contest the Worcestershire County Council election next year because of his views on the Covid-19 lockdown.

Matt Snape alleges the party snubbed him for the candidacy in Evesham North West having scrolled through his Twitter to see multiple retweets that were critical of the government’s decision to go back into national lockdown and its handling of the pandemic.

Use of social media has blighted Mr Snape’s relationship with the Tories in the past and he stood down from the Conservative Group in January 2018 while serving as Wychavon District Councillor for Evesham South.

“I managed to win the selection for Evesham North West, which is currently John Smith’s seat, but there were less than 15 members present,” said Mr Snape.

“One of the members of the executive decided to bring up some retweets I had made that he didn’t like, taking them completely out of context.

“The association decided to have an appeal process in which I was asked to explain myself, my candidacy was not ratified there and then and we had the appeal last Sunday (November 15).

“Most of the retweets were anti-lockdown stuff and they felt because I had been so outspoken against the lockdown that I could not be an appropriate ambassador or councillor for the party, even though many Conservative MPs oppose the lockdown anyway.

“They clearly don’t understand the irony behind some of the stuff on there and used what I said out of context so I would lose the candidacy.

“I am really angry about it. I don’t feel like it is fair, the Conservative party has always prided itself on free speech but on this occasion it feels like that is only the case when it suits them.

“I cannot be the only councillor in the United Kingdom who opposes the lockdown.”

Correspondence seen by the Evesham Journal confirmed Mr Snape had been informed via email that "the committee has voted to remove you from the list of approved candidates for elections to Worcestershire County Council scheduled for May 2021".

Wychavon Council leader Bradley Thomas, who was on the six-strong panel who heard the upheld appeal against Mr Snape’s candidacy, said: “Matt has been through the party’s process and has not been successful.

“It was never about the specific content of any social media post. We have a process that is about fairness and integrity, the association followed that accordingly. We don’t comment on specific candidacies.”

Asked about Mr Snape’s assertion that he had won the selection, Cllr Thomas replied: “No selection is confirmed until it is signed off, Matt’s candidacy did not get ratified by the association.”