Theresa May says female council leader was 'hounded out' by Labour opponents

Posted On: 
6th February 2018

Theresa May has condemned the "sexist and bullying" behaviour which led to a female council leader being "hounded out" of her job.

Theresa May speaking Manchester to mark the 100th anniversay of some women being given the vote.
Credit: 
Sky News

The Prime Minister said it was "particularly disappointing" to see Claire Kober resign as boss of Haringey Council at the same time as the 100th anniversary of women finally being given the vote in Britain.

Labour councillor Ms Kober had faced criticism from left-wing opponents inside her own party over a controversial housing regeneration project.

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She said: "The sexism, bullying, undemocratic behaviour and outright personal attacks on me as the most senior woman in Labour local government have left me disappointed and disillusioned."

Speaking in Manchester, the birthplace of the Suffragette movement, Mrs May said: "I think it is particularly disappointing, as I say, within a week in which we're celebrating the first votes for women that we actually see a senior women in local government effectively hounded out of office by what she described as that sexist and bullying behaviour.

"I don't think that has any place in our public life. You can disagree with somebody, they can have a different viewpoint from yours. But discuss it properly, 

"Don't deal in that sort of bullying and sexism and I think it's very disappointing that she's found it necessary to step down and as I say has effectively been hounded out of office."

The Prime Minister also warned that the rising tide of abuse on social media, which is often aimed at women, was "a threat to our democracy".

She set out several measures to tackle online abuse, including a new internet safety transparency report to set out how social media companies are dealing with harmful online activity.

There will also be a Law Commission review to look at updating laws around offensive online communication, along with a new social media code of practice.

Mrs May said: "In the face of what is a threat to our democracy, I believe that all of us – individuals, governments, and media old and new – must accept our responsibility to help sustain a genuinely pluralist public debate for the future.

“As well as being places for empowering self-expression, online platforms can become places of intimidation and abuse.

"This squanders the opportunity new technology affords us to drive up political engagement, and can have the perverse effect of putting off participation from those who are not prepared to tolerate the levels of abuse which exist...

“The social media companies themselves must now step up and set out how they will respond positively to those recommendations. So far, their response has been encouraging, and I hope they will continue in that spirit.”