Friday 17 June 2016

Do not gift the psychos even the merest hint of a victory

As a politician, of sorts, one gets used to both brickbats and plaudits. You just cannot please everyone. Of course you try, but eventually you realise that this leads to all sorts of contradictions.

It is not often that I get told to not work so hard, but this is what one friendly resident this week. I was leafleting, delivering Remain stuff for the EU Referendum. I do not work that hard - I just try my best, my often inadequate best.

The reverse is common; for some I can do little right. These people get their chance to replace me with someone better at the ballot box.

I have had few nasty encounters when doing my political stuff, and nothing in recent years that warrants special mention. In fact, it was just over a decade ago when I had to report a particularly aggressive member of the British National Party who was intent on intimidating me when I was canvassing in Hullbridge. Needless to say, I carried on doing what I believe in - democracy should not be cowed by the acts of one stupid individual.

Last night I attended the Traffic and Parking Working Party. I was called just before it was due to start to see whether I would wish for this to be postponed; this in light of the awful murder of Jo Cox MP. As Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, and a member of that working party, my opinion was sought in addition to that of Cllr Ian Gilbert (our Group Leader). I said that we should carry on - that I was not prepared to grant one psycho any sort of victory. Democracy demanded it. I only requested that we be allowed to pause for reflection at the start of the meeting - and a minute's silence was indeed granted.

I said a few words after. I spoke of our often tough debates and that this did not mean we did not respect each other. I was grateful that all shared my horror at events in Yorkshire. I ended with perhaps an intemperate reference to the bastard not being allowed to distract any of us.

Frank exchanges of opinion are the lifeblood of debate in a democracy. Sometimes tempers flare - goodness knows I have been angry at times. But never forget that each and every one of us deserves respect, and tolerance. I may not always like what you say, but I defend your right to say it.

I do not plan to change anything as regards to how I campaign. Of course, we all need to be careful, to be mindful of our safety. However, stopping doing what I see as important is nothing short of a gift to those for whom democratic engagement is an affront.

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