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Dangerous and Worrying Times

November 8, 2019 9:22 AM
By Simon Bishop, Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidate for Folkestone and Hythe

Simon BishopI was excited today. Today was the first full day of election campaigning. I started off bright and early with my team doing some leafleting in the constituency. A part of the democratic process that I have never batted an eyelid at or given me any thought of concern.

We all followed the delivery rules. If there are signs saying no cold callers we didn't deliver a leaflet. We closed the gates when we leave. We pushed the leaflet all the way through the letter box to make sure that a house is left as secure as we found it. Everyone in the team is always friendly, courteous and considerate.

Yet, just 10 minutes into our first road, a burly man ran at least 200 metres down the street to scream abuse at me and my volunteers. F this and F that. C this and C that. F this some more. Again, and again. Intimidating, aggressive, angry. At nine in the morning on a Thursday. And all we had done was posted a leaflet, about the choices he has in the upcoming election, through his door.

Only yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable, Garry Cannon, elections lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council, said election candidates should have their phones charged, inform someone else where they will be and campaign alongside volunteers.

I totally understand Brexit has been divisive and after almost three-and-a-half years patience is thin. Yet that is never a justification for threatening and abusive behaviour. Yet, just for delivering a leaflet, that was what I, and my team of volunteers, experienced. These are dangerous and worrying times.

I want my two daughters to grow up in a kind, compassionate, tolerant, equal, outward-facing Britain, not one defined by division and hate. After the encounter this morning, I feel ever more passionate that I need to deliver on my wish.

In this febrile atmosphere I hope this doesn't become the norm. I hope that all political party's commit to running their election campaigns in a way that doesn't stir these tensions that are so clearly bubbling below the surface. And I hope, that all the candidates, and their volunteers, stay safe during this tough winter, dark night, campaign.