Arleen Ouzounian may not be a particularly well-known name in UK politics but she came under significant fire in the blogosphere for a statement she made as Chair of King's College Conservatives. This statement firstly mourned the death of Ealing and Southall Labour MP Piara Khabra then went on to talk about the opportunity this offered to Conservatives using the phrase "Christmas has come early". The original blog post has been edited and a number of defences and apologies produced. Few seem to be rushing to defend the statement however, for the original see Recess Monkey's report of this. There is a Facebook group 'Arleen is Innocent' which states that "Arleen Ouzounian has come under attack from shameless leftist bloggers and faceless political hacks" and that "Arleen did not describe the death of Piara Khabra as being like Christmas come early. That is a deliberate misquote. Her blog post consisted of two parts, explicitly divided by belonging to two separate paragraphs, and hence to two self-contained ideas". The group has only 22 members.
The reason for the lack of support is perhaps because her statement was an open goal with PR disaster written all over it. The language of the original statement is bad enough, sorry he died and Christmas come early, can never be in the same statement however they are separated. But to then argue that "One could only misunderstand Arleen's post in such a manner with deliberate and malicious intent" is as equally misguided. The only sensible response is the throw hands up, admit to a cock-up made in the excitement of the moment of considering a by-election and then hide. To accuse left or right of acting in a scurrilous way loses you sympathy. This is a shame for Ms Ouzounian, this type of thing will undoubtedly be used by all her opponents to thwart her political career if she desires one, and this is prolonged by the failure to apologise and draw a line under the matter. Arleen is not innocent, she is not evil, no but she is guilty of a serious PR blunder and it will take a lot to rescue her reputation as a result. And the lesson: think before you blog!