SIMON HART MP
MEMBER FOR CARMARTHEN WEST AND SOUTH PEMBROKESHIRE
6th February 2018
SIMON HART’S INITIATIVE TO PROTECT ELECTION CANDIDATES BACKED BY PM
Simon Hart MP has welcomed a broad range of measures announced by Prime Minister Theresa May to prevent the intimidation of people who stand for public office.
Her announcement comes after Mr Hart ignited the debate last summer, shortly after the bad tempered 2017 General Election campaign.
Mr Hart called a Parliamentary debate in July in which he revealed that whips offices had been dealing with “at least three credible threats to colleagues every week, including death threats, criminal damage, sexism, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and general thuggishness around and after the election”.
He said he considered elections to be a few weeks of “robust banter followed by a shake of the hand and a pint in the pub” when first elected in 2010, but the latest contest was characterised by “swastikas on election boards, offensive slogans and language on posters”.
As a result of the debate he was invited to sit on to the Committee on Standards in Public Life Committee and it is their report into intimidation that was wholeheartedly endorsed by the PM today (6 Feb).
The Government will now work with social media platforms to ensure they are liable for what they host and that they robustly police the internet. There are also plans for “pop up” social media reporting teams during elections.
Local council election candidates will no longer be have to publish their home addresses on ballot papers and political parties are expected to clamp down on bad behaviour by their members.
Mr Hart said: “Last summer we reached a perfect storm of lack of accountability, high emotion, easy access to social media and strong emotions over issues such as Brexit. This report won’t put an end to all intimidation but it’s a step in the right direction and I am pleased to have started the conversation.”