Simon Hart will investigate abuse of MP candidates. Is this a stitch-up?

Simon Hart.

The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life launched an inquiry into the intimidation of parliamentary candidates, MPs and other public office holders yesterday (July 24).

Today, the government announced it has appointed Tory MP Simon Hart to a position on the committee.

Mr Hart came under public scrutiny less than two weeks ago, when he tried (and failed) to sell a claim that “left-wing” activists were responsible for most of the abuse alleged to have taken place against MPs during the general election.

With this man on the committee, which has only eight other members, what conclusions are we to reach about its deliberations?

Will this inquiry be a stitch-up, intended to vilify the activist Left that supports Jeremy Corbyn?

I think it may.

The committee’s Labour Party member, Dame Margaret Beckett, nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership in 2015 but has since declared she was a “moron” to do it – so it seems unlikely that she will defend left-wing activists against false claims.

Also on the committee is a Liberal Democrat, Lord Andrew Stunell. The other members are appointed on a non-political basis.

The investigation has been ordered by Theresa May, who said she was “horrified by stories from colleagues about the scale and nature of the intimidation, bullying and harassment they suffered during the general election”.

Where did she hear these tales? In a Commons debate called by Simon Hart, who believes left-wingers were behind it and that left-wing MPs and candidates have not suffered abuse (he was proved wrong in that, as well).

I’m right to doubt the impartiality of this investigation, don’t you think?

It occurs to me that the only way to ensure a decent outcome is to make sure the committee receives as much solid evidence of the intimidation of left-wing candidates and MPs as possible.

I will be submitting my own experiences of the successful attempt to prevent me from being elected to Powys County Council by malcontents who falsely accused me of anti-Semitism, and of some of the vile messages that were sent to me online as part of that compaign. I feel justified in doing this as the committee will also consider the broader implications for other candidates for public office and other public office holders.

All the details you need are included below.

Evidence must be submitted to the committee before 5pm on September 8, 2017. The terms of reference are as follows:

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is undertaking a review of intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood at the 2017 General Election. We will also consider the broader implications for other candidates for public office and other public office holders.

This review will:

•Examine the nature of the problem and consider whether measures already in place to address such behaviour are satisfactory to protect the integrity of public service; and whether such measures are (a) effective, especially given the rise of social media, and (b) enforceable;

•Produce a report for the Prime Minister, including recommendations for action focused on what could be done in the short- and long-term and identifying examples of good practice.

The review will recognise the important role of legitimate scrutiny of those standing for public office by the public and the press.

We welcome contributions from anyone interested in this issue. The call for evidence will be open until 5pm on Friday 8 September.

Review Questions

The Committee invites evidence and comments on the following themes:
1.What is the nature and degree of intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, in particular at the 2017 General Election?
2.Does the issue of the intimidation of Parliamentary candidates reflect a wider change in the relationship and discourse between public office holders and the public?
3.Has the media or social media significantly changed the nature, scale, or effect of intimidation of Parliamentary candidates? If so, what measures would you suggest to help address these issues?
4.Is existing legislation sufficient to address intimidation of Parliamentary candidates?
5.What role should political parties play in preventing the intimidation of Parliamentary candidates and encouraging constructive debate?
6.What other measures might be effective in addressing the intimidation of Parliamentary candidates, and candidates for public offices more broadly?
7.Could the experience of intimidation by Parliamentary candidates discourage people from standing for elected or appointed public offices?
8.Has the intimidation of Parliamentary candidates led to a change in the way in which public office holders interact with the public in correspondence, on social media, or at in-person events?

Please note that not all questions will be relevant to all respondents and that submissions do not need to respond to every question.

The Committee’s standard practice for handling public submissions is that they will be published online alongside our final report with all personal data removed. However, given the sensitive nature of some evidence, the Committee is willing to accept confidential submissions which will not be published. If your submission contains sensitive information, and you would like it to be considered on a confidential basis, please state this explicitly in your response. If you mark your submission as private, we shall deem any communication with us to be subject to a duty of confidence and shall not release such except insofar as we are obliged to by law. Information received will be held in compliance with our obligations under the Data Protection Act.

Submissions must:
State clearly who the submission is from, i.e. whether from yourself or sent on behalf of an organisation;
Include a brief introduction about yourself/your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence;
Be in doc, docx, rtf, txt ooxml or odt format, not PDF;
Be concise – we recommend no more than 2,000 words in length; and
Contain a contact email address if you are submitting by email.

Submissions should:
Have numbered paragraphs; and
Comprise a single document. If there are any annexes or appendices, these should be included in the same document.

It would be helpful if your submission included any factual information you have to offer from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses for their reactions, and any recommendations for action which you would like the Committee to consider.

The Committee may choose not to accept a submission as evidence, or not to publish a public submission even if it is accepted as evidence. This may occur where a submission is very long or contains material which is inappropriate.

Submissions sent to the Committee after the deadline of 5pm on Friday 8 September will not be considered.

Submissions can be sent:
1. Via email to: [email protected]
2. Via post to:
Review of Intimidation of Parliamentary Candidates
Committee on Standards in Public Life
1 Horse Guards Road

If you have any questions, please contact the Committee’s Secretariat by email ([email protected]) or phone (0207 271 2948).

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11 thoughts on “Simon Hart will investigate abuse of MP candidates. Is this a stitch-up?

  1. NMac

    The Tory Party itself has led the way in abuse thrown at Labour and other opposition politicians and against anyone who disagrees with what they say. It wasn’t long ago that the Tories were insinuating that any disagreement with Tory policy was tantamount to treason.

  2. hugosmum70

    It’s also their newspaper editors (especially but not limited to)the mail sun and others.that have been trying to bully Corbyn, diane abbott. etc and having a go at most labour party members in one way or another. en masse, trying to make out we are something (bad) that we are not.

  3. Roland Laycock

    Is this a joke independent Committee on Standards in Public Life another bandwagon to rack some cash in and stitch some poor sod up they don’t like

  4. dsbacon2017

    I seem to remember a young conservative activist being driven to suicide during the last General Election but one. The conclusion was that he was bullied by a senior member of the conservative election campaign and a man known to Cameron.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That was the allegation. But the man accused of bullying the deceased to the grave was never made to face justice for it, if I recall correctly. I wrote articles about it.

  5. Thomas

    Whilst there might indeed have been some intimidation, 90% of it would stop if the government stopped trying to starve people to death or use them for forced labour.

  6. James Kemp

    Humm wonder if we can point out it’s not just the public remember the ‘Skivers and strivers’ drivel disabled people like myself had to endure and still do regularly from MP’s? I bet not…..

      1. hugosmum70

        the public are still doing it though.Only very recently i was the butt of the skivers thing.from a neighbour .we had been very friendly (not a relationship, just friends,looking out for each other.). around that time my carer, (my daughter) was given notice to quit the house she had been privately renting for 12 years. this after she had been very ill for around 11-12 months. very unexpected. so we employed the internet,found out what we needed to know how to get her new cooker,bed.settee all of which had had to be left behind as they wouldnt fit in the 1 bedroomed flat allocated to her.this so called friend, on being told of the help she might get from vulnerable adults section of our local HA, turned round and said…”dont you think your lot have scrounged enough out of the state? “. other things followed including personal verbal attacks on me and my age group(i will be 75 in a weeks time. ). my daughter as i say is my carer (plus having 3 conditions that can affect her daily routine at times)therefore doesnt work otherwise. My son has RA and fibromyalgia. my sister a stroke victim, her eldest son a dyalisis patient who has had 2 heart attacks and nearly died at least twice from contracting stomach and/or other bugs. her partner an above knee amputee who may yet lose his other leg, myself? i have a lot of different things wrong with me. 6 serious ones. my brother currently has enough on his plate with his wife very ill with terminal cancer,so thats my close family. none of us ever asked to have these things thrown at us, but when the verbal attack centred on me as a old/elderly woman and my looks that was finally it. i know at my age ill never be a raving beauty and things sag. but some men have this idea that they dont change in spite of having a visible paunch, receding or disapearing hair, jowls like a great dane.etc . he had never done this before in the 4 years ive known him. but after a parting shot to him of ….”and at going on for 70 what makes you think your such a beautiful looker.. your body has gone to pot just like mine,” .i came indoors and havent spoken to him since. thats what you get when parties like UKIP(YES HE VOTED FOR THEM) indoctrinate people . hes racist, sexist , homophobic and intolerant of people who are sick disabled etc.yet he retired early and for a year was on pension ctredit .too young to claim his pension at that time.clearly he didnt think that counted in the scrounging bit. no doubt had i tackled him about it (instead of just saying.pension credit is a benefit ,its not yur pension.) he would have said hes worked so entitled to it. one rule for him another for everyone else.

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