'We must take action now': The current discussions on MP safety need to be expanded to candidates too

29 February 2024, 08:19

The current discussions on MP safety need to be expanded to candidates too
The current discussions on MP safety need to be expanded to candidates too. Picture: Alamy/LBC
  • Christine Wallace is the Conservative GLA candidate for Lambeth & Southwark and works in Parliament.
Christine Wallace

By Christine Wallace

There has rightfully been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about the safety and security of MPs, for democracy to thrive elected officials need to feel safe carrying out the duties of their office and not feel the need to bow to threats and acts of aggression.

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However, individuals experience risks and attempts at intimidation long before they are elected.

These threats to personal safety and security, not to mention your loved ones, undermine democracy from the very beginning. The cornerstone of a good campaign run by any candidate is their willingness to get out and talk to as many constituents as they can, because how can you truly claim to be fighting on their behalf if you have never heard their voices?

But the sad reality is that the mere act of a candidate putting themselves out into the public puts them at risk.

Since being selected last June I have had the privilege of talking to thousands of residents in Lambeth and Southwark, something I believe should never be substituted but has come at a cost.

I have been verbally assaulted, followed home and held at knife point all for daring to take part in the electoral process.

Although I have chosen to carry on knocking on doors multiple times a week and meeting with local community groups, any candidate would be well within their rights to withdraw themselves from face-to-face campaigning to minimise the risk to their safety.

UK Parliament and its Member of Parliament pride themselves on being considered one of the most accessible in the world.

A trait we should emulate through all levels of government and elections.

Which is why I think it is essential we widen the discussion on MP safety to include that of candidates as well, particularly in a time when political tensions are rising.

I believe every political party must play its part and adopt training and security measures for their candidates to keep them safe physically and online.

With each new news story on the violence, harassment and abuse received by our politicians the deeper the knock-on effects are on our democracy, I know many very capable and talented people across the political spectrum who will never consider standing for elected office simply down the huge personal cost and risks associated with the role.

We are a poorer democracy for this and we must take action now.


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