Tory Michael Fabricant has always been a clown, but he has outdone himself this time with a tweet of such extraordinary stupidity it is difficult to know where to start.

What may yet be worse, however, is the fact that it appears David Cameron doesn't understand how appalling and damaging Fabricant's outburst was, and is happy to let him stay as a member of the parliamentary Tory party. Really?

At a time when the Prime Minister is trying to tackle his "women problem", appeal to voters from ethnic communities, oppose Islamophobia and outlaw bullying and violent "trolling" on twitter and the internet, this is what Fabricant tweeted about female, British, Muslim, part-Pakistani journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

"I could never appear on a discussion prog with [Alibhai-Brown]. I would either end up with a brain haemorrhage or by punching her in the throat."

He also retweeted another posting which suggested the journalist "should be deported".

The remark sparked an entirely predictable storm, and some appalling, offensive and violent trolling in support of Fabricant and "free speech" and attacking Alibhai-Brown and those who took her side in demanding Fabricant's sacking.

David Cameron
Cameron has refused to expel Fabricant Reuters

Even some Ukip tweeters got in on the act, re-tweeting Fabricant's remarks in a clear attempt to suggest it wasn't just their party that occasionally attracted unsavoury elements.

In response to demands for an apology, Fabricant then posted: "It was wrong to joke about punching and I completely withdraw and apologise."

But he also tweeted to the journalist: "Sorry if you actually thought I would punch you. I actually don't do that sort of thing. But you are utterly infuriating!".

So that's alright then? Apparently so for the Prime Minister who responded saying: "It's an appalling thing to say and that's why he has apologised. I think we can leave it at that."

It wasn't enough for the journalist, however. She told LBC radio: "Is this his apology? Well he can stuff it."

Labour's Gloria De Piero isn't "leaving it at that" either. She has written to Cameron demanding he takes action against Fabricant, adding: "I would also be grateful if you would spell out clearly that the Conservative Party believes that threats of violence in any form are unacceptable and that such views will not be tolerated."

Fabricant has previously been disciplined for his behaviour and was sacked as Tory party vice-chairman after tweeting "about time" when minister Maria Miller finally quit over her expenses.

For those who think his comments reflected what many ordinary people might think, or even say, the answer is simple. People expressing offensive or violent views face the judgement of their peers, which in turn demonstrates what their peers really think, something the Prime Minister might want to consider.

MPs are in a special and privileged position and should set an example of how to behave. Failing that they should at least have the intelligence to know what might damage their own party even if they don't mind taking the flak themselves for their "straight talking", the usual excuse for being offensive.

Fabricant has always been a "character" on the Tory benches with his shock of blond hair, which he denies is a wig, and a puppyish enthusiasm for seeking the limelight at any cost.

This time the cost should be his place in the Tory party. If it isn't, it will say as much about David Cameron as it does about Fabricant himself.