A Labour councillor labelled his local mayor a 'daft cow' during an online council meeting, thinking his microphone was muted. The embarrassing mishap occurred as Allerdale Borough councillors met virtually on Monday using the Zoom app. Cllr Alan Smith was until recently the leader of the opposition Labour group and was formerly leader of the council before the party got trounced in last year's council elections. He made the remark towards the mayor, Cllr Hilary Harrington of the Allerdale Independents, as she took advice from an official off-screen. The outburst immediately backfired as Cllr Smith realised he could be heard by everyone (watch below).
The mayor did not initially react to his remark, but following an adjournment she accepted an apology from Cllr Smith, albeit his apology appeared to be more concerned with the fact he'd been caught out. Smith said: "It's been brought to my attention that my microphone was un-muted before we went into the adjournment, I may have made some derogatory remark. I would like you to accept my apology for anything you may have picked up, it was totally out of conduct for me to have my microphone un-muted, I didn't know I was un-muted. I'm sorry for what happened, take my apologies, please".
Despite the apology, another member of the Allerdale Independents later denounced Cllr Smith during the meeting. Cllr George Kemp said: "I would just like to say how disgusted I am with the actions of Councillor Smith, absolutely disgraceful language for a former leader of this council. It's an absolutely disgraceful thing he has done and he should be ashamed of himself".
The episode harks back to another Zoom clanger earlier this year when Labour's health minister in Wales dropped the f-word towards one of his own party colleagues.