A digital democracy campaign is calling for better protection for local politicians after a fivefold increase in ill-treatment experienced by councillors – describing it as “a crisis in our democracy”
The amount of physical, verbal or online abuse suffered by local representatives has risen by 500% in just two years – with local politicians reporting receiving bomb threats, being spat at, and having dog poo smeared on their cars.
Figures from the Local Government Association show that reports of abuse directed at councillors has risen fivefold since 2016, rocketing from 18 incidents that year to 86 in 2018.
67 cases have already been reported in 2019.
- Councillors being spat at
- Dog poo being smeared on councillor’s cars
- Local representatives being forced off the road whilst driving
- Councillors being too afraid to go out in public
- Councillors having swastikas sent to their home.
- Intentional dog attacks
A survey by the Fawcett Society has recently indicated that 46% of women surveyed said “harassment or abuse from the electorate” was a barrier to them entering local politics.
The Digital Democracy campaign is calling on better protection for local representatives.
The group has developed a free app called Rate Your Leader which allows confirmed voters to communicate directly with the elected representatives from their phones or tablets in a way which makes abuse impossible, as well as rating them for responsiveness.
Campaign leader Joel Popoola said:
“This is a crisis in our democracy. Representative democracy cannot function if the representatives are fearful for their lives. This is the sort of thing you expect to hear about in dictatorships – not Britain.
“Councillors have for many years highlighted the endless hours they put in for their community for next-to-no financial compensation. They put up with that because they love their communities, but if something isn’t done to stop them suffering this kind of abuse as well, no-one will stand for local office – plain and simple.
“The first and simplest step is improving online communication – which is why we’ve created the free Rate Your Leader app to bring politicians and the people they serve together in a place where abuse is impossible.”
The Rate Your Leader app is available from the Apple and Google Marketplaces. The app
has a five star rating on the Google market, with one reviewer writing “This is the new level of politics…better communication of leaders with the electorates and accountability”.
An ever-increasing number of MPs, councillors, MEPs and Police & Crime Commissioners have already taken advantage of the free democracy app to stay in touch with the people who elect them and to get their message out to confirmed voters in their constituencies, helping them truly understand what matters most to the people who elect them