Standards watchdog says British politics at 'tipping point' after surge in abuse and intimidation

Posted On: 
16th July 2017

Abuse and intimidation of politicians risks putting people off entering public life, Parliament's standards watchdog has warned.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has been subject to repeated abuse
Credit: 
PA

Theresa May has asked Lord Bew, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, to oversee a review of how politicians are treated.

Several Conservative MPs have complained about abuse during the recent election campaign and MPs debated the issue in Westminster Hall earlier this week. 

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South East Cornwall MP Sheryl Murray told the Commons that rival campaigners had urinated on her office door and carved swastikas into her campaign posters.

Labour in turn have accused the Conservatives of running a campaign based on "smears and untruths", including personal attacks on figures such as shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

Lord Bew said the upsurge in incidents risked deterring people from entering politics.

“We are in a bad moment and we have to respond to it. We cannot afford to lose people of quality in our public life and we may be approaching a tipping point," he told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour.

“Above all, we do need leadership from Parliament itself on this point. We have reached a point where this is not a sermon. This has got to be said with some sharpness.”