It wasn’t long ago that I posted a video on social media about the online abuse I was receiving after my announcement of being a candidate. During the weeks that followed more and more fellow campaigners shared their stories of abuse both online and at the doorsteps leading up to the local elections in May, including stories of campaigners wearing hard hats to deliver their election leaflets. What I found almost as alarming as the stories themselves, were the many people trying to justify these horrid acts as being just what we deserved for betraying the will of the people or for belonging to a political party they didn’t agree with. Twitter was rife with both far right and far left groups applauding abuse and suggesting that we were lucky it wasn’t anything more than online and verbal.
I have to be honest, the closer I got to the election the less safe I felt as the strange and aggressive mood bubbled in the air. Then on 18th April I saw the following tweet:
Yes you’ve read it correctly, a 22 year old standing in the Local elections had his windows smashed in and for what purpose? Intimidation? To show Roddy that he wasn’t safe? What kind of human being does that? Then I read the comments, most of which were an outpouring of support and offers of help. But hidden amongst these tweets were people justifying this act as well. I needed understand what type of person would think this would be ok? I was shocked to find that some weren’t the far right or left, they were just frustrated people. Mothers, fathers, daughters and sons like you and I, commenting justifications for this happening. How have we got to this point where it’s no longer people with extremist views who would find this somehow ok?
On 24th April, Colchester Conservative Candidate Carla Hales was both verbally abused and violently assaulted. Darius Laws, the group leader described this as “utterly deplorable.” Then went on to write “ I had hoped after the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP, we might have learnt lessons about the way in which people with opposing viewpoints conduct themselves” and he is absolutely right. How have we not learned anything about how to treat each other after such a tragic death?
For a moment I wondered if it was worth carrying on. Am I putting my family at risk for simply wanting to be part of a process which could better my community if I was to win? Then I gave myself a mental shake and told myself to suck it up. These acts are to silence us, and to bully us. This was just another attempt to stop us living our lives, to stop us having our beliefs and attempting to take away our right to freedom of speech and expression, within the confines of the law. So after that day, I campaigned harder, pushed myself further and every time I walked my children to school and heard “Tory C***” being shouted at me, I carried on walking with my head held high.
Like many others across the country, not just Tory, I like Roddy and Carla saw my campaign through and didn’t allow this intimidation to stop me carrying on and trying. Us 3 Tories again like many others lost the election, so the public had their say in the democratic and correct way, proving the intimidation tactics to be pointless.
Now that the local elections are out of the way, the campaigns are in full force this time for the European election and once again we are seeing this continuation of senseless attacks on politicians.
Jewish Brexit Party Candidate Lance Forman has had a 10 meter Swastika graffitied onto his company’s building in East London. Mr Forman’s father is a holocaust survivor who fled Germany after the war making this act completely abhorrent beyond measure.
Now lets look at Milkshake Gate. Since the incident with Tommy Robinson where he had a milkshake thrown at him, there now seems to be the beginning of a milkshake protest happening.
UKIP Candidate for the South West of England Carl Benjamin has been attacked 4 times whilst campaigning for this particular election, one being the milkshake attack in Totnes, Devon. Now at this point I have to add that I personally loathe Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin for their views, and I completely condemn their own acts including Carl Benjamin’s repeated comments regarding raping MP Jess Phillips.
However, I am including this in my blog because the people conducting these acts of violence, even the ones with a milkshake are in my opinion just as bad as the people they are opposing because of the methods they are using. 2 wrongs do not make a right. Throwing anything at someone is an act of intimidation and an attempt to silence someone, stopping them from having their right to participate in the democratic process.
Yesterday it was Nigel Farage’s turn with a milkshake thrown over him 20 minutes into his campaign in Newcastle by Paul Crowther who whilst being arrested allegedly stated “It’s a right of protest against people like him.” This man who reportedly shows no remorse for his actions believes its his right to do such an act because the other person has a difference of opinion. Where is the line? This is common assault which is illegal. These acts are not ok, despite who they are done towards.
Now I’m going to do, what I never thought I would and include Tony Blair’s reaction to todays footage. On LBC he reacted with “Horrible and ridiculous and people shouldn’t do this. I can’t stand this. I feel very strongly about this.
“The guy is entitled to his point of view. I profoundly disagree with him.
“But we’ve got to get out of this situation where if you disagree with someone, you stop them speaking, you disrupt their meetings, you throw things over them, it’s ridiculous.”
In this instance I agree with his reaction entirely. People have to stop disrupting democracy and stop trying to silence those who have a different point of view with intimidation, abuse and violence. Use the democratic process of the election, don’t become part of the problem with modern day broken politics.
I will leave you with this final thought, if the choices you have for this election or any future election, aren’t what you deem as acceptable or worth voting for, why not step up and be counted yourself? That’s surely a better way to make changes in politics than this.