Downing Street will investigate an increase in abuse and intimidation of political candidates at the election, after a series of complaints from Tory MPs.
Theresa May led a discussion about the concerns with her cabinet on Tuesday, after candidates were subject to incidents of harassment in real life and on social media.
It is understood ministers will investigate the extent of the problem at the 2015 election and look at whether some work can be done across the parties to deal with the abuse suffered.
Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, was last week the first Conservative to speak out about her treatment during the campaign, saying it involved someone urinating at her office door and death threats on social media.
“Over the past month I’ve had swastikas carved into posters, social media posts like ‘burn the witch’ … people putting Labour party posters over my home, photographed them and pushed them through my letterbox, and someone even urinated on my office door,” she said. “Hardly kinder, gentler politics.”
Abuse was not limited to threats against Conservative candidates. Nimco Ali, a candidate for the Women’s Equality party, received a death threat in a letter filled with racist abuse and signed “Jo Cox”.
Police also had to be called to the offices of the party, where workers were being inundated with abusive and threatening calls in the run-up to the election, with one man telephoning to say he was 10 minutes away and they should be scared.
Numerous Labour MPs were also subject to abuse long before the election campaign, with Twitter trolls convicted for their death threats to Angela Eagle, Stella Creasy and Luciana Berger, who has been subjected to repeated antisemitic abuse online.
May told the Commons last week that personalised abuse was putting good people off becoming MPs.
She told Murray: “You are absolutely right to raise this issue and you were not the only person who experienced this sort of intimidation during the election campaign, particularly, I’m sorry to say, this sort of intimidation was experienced by female candidates during the election campaign.
“I believe this sort of behaviour has no place in our democracy and I think you’re right, I think it could put good people off from serving in this house.”
This article was written by Rowena Mason Deputy political editor, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 4th July 2017 20.13 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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