In her debut for The Speaker, new Conservative member and political activist Jas discusses the need for wholesale political change, something she is trying to achieve through her new organisation ‘For a Better Politics’.
One thing that’s become visible over the last few days is that the country is polarised. Logging onto Twitter seems impossible, with MPs getting death threats and activists openly abusing each-other. Whatever you think about leaders, parties or policy stances, this behaviour is unacceptable. Something needs to change. That’s why we’re striving ‘For a Better Politics,’ with cross-party activists standing together to condemn the direction our politics is heading in.
Having been actively involved within politics for just over three years, I understand how truly toxic the atmosphere has become- and it’s not only me saying it, but instead a wide number of voices across the political spectrum.
Meet Leena Sarah Farhat, a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr. She’s currently a student at Aberystwyth University, studying computer science, and she talked about how ‘being involved in front line politics has its ups and downs.’ She states that she has been the victim of ‘death threats’ and has been on the receiving end of ‘racist abuse,’ with her being a member of the BME community. Working across parties is vital, she says, and that it is cross-party friends of her that ‘would stand up for her in a heartbeat.’
Our Head of Social Media, Grace Braddock, argues that it’s integral to democracy and that we have to ‘be able to scrutinise the parties we belong to.’ We shouldn’t have to ‘put up with abuse or accusations of ulterior motives’ and instead need to work towards a cultural shift within politics, we need ‘to be able to disagree with each other without resorting to vitriol.’
But what impact will this have, why will cutting out hate and other abuse really make politics ‘better?’ Our Researcher, Aaminah Saleem, has recently joined the Conservative Party, defecting from the Liberal Democrats. During this process, she’s experienced ‘abuse and harassment,’ with the move being a deeply unpopular one, even though motivated entirely by her changing political views. She argues that politics needs to change in order ‘to encourage participation’ and to ensure that activists feel ‘safer.’
Activists not feeling safe is a real concern at the moment, especially with the threat of a General Election looming. Multiple activists have spoken about how they ‘fear a winter election,’ especially with politics being in the current state it is. A Conservative activist, who lives in the South West and asked not to be named as she didn’t want to upset party leadership, told us that she definitely wouldn’t be campaigning if a General Election is called. ‘I’m terrified,’ she told me through tears, ‘I’ve had death threats, I’ve had to call the police. I’ve been sexually harassed at party events.’
The culture is not only harming those already involved in politics, but it is also actively stopping others from getting involved. Theo Michael, a Labour Activist based in Sevenoaks, says that he’s seen ‘people intimidated away from politics.’ People are ‘scared of the abuse that they would face’ and stay away, he says, and that’s why he wants to change.
In order to achieve this change, we need to work together. Together we can make politics a kinder and more inclusive place.