by Louise Harvey-Quirke
I expected there would be a lot to learn as a first-time candidate in the Canterbury City Council elections and busy times ahead.
I was prepared to embrace the hard work and looked forward to the challenge.
What I wasn’t prepared for – and I don’t think any candidate could ever be – is the level of personal attack.
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Three examples stick out from this local election campaign:
First, a candidate from another party received threats of violence towards her on social media.
Secondly, a parish council candidate I know, when heading home at night after a meeting, found an intimidating note on her windscreen, written by a rival candidate.
Then there’s my own experience. A wonderful person, kind enough to nominate me as a candidate for the local elections, was bullied by people on Facebook simply because they supported me.
Politics isn’t like any other kind of community work. When you stand in an election the gloves come off.
However positive you might be, sometimes you can’t help but have people’s opinions shaped by issues beyond your control – whether that’s the view of the local MP, or national news.
I think all candidates realise that. They also know that from time to time, people passionate about their beliefs make their feelings known. It’s one of the things all candidates like me come to learn.
But no matter which political party you represent, or the type of election you’re standing in, no person should ever feel intimidated or harassed by angry keyboard warriors.
I still like to think these incidents in my campaign are rare. For every negative, nasty comment that’s been aimed at me, I’ve had at least five messages of support.
The people I have met on the doorstep have been amazing – even when I know that politically I’m not their cup of tea. Their kindness and graciousness makes it worthwhile and I thank them for this.
Louise Harvey-Quirke is a Conservative candidate for Sturry at this year’s elections to Canterbury City Council. She lives in Sturry with her husband and children.