Has the General Election campaign in Harlow just turned ugly?

Politics / Fri 24th Apr 2015 at 09:19am

EVERY competition has its fair amount of banter and sledging. But there is always a line. The question is whether that line was crossed in Harlow in what could easily be described as Twibel Thursday.

Funnily enough, one of our reporters on our sister paper, www.yourthurrock.com was researching the General election campaign in South East Essex in 1910 (the election which ended up with a government being propped up by Nationalists). The report in the Grays and Tilbury Gazette referred to “mudslinging”. No, not the metaphorical type but the literal form as young hooligans threw mud at Tories as they canvassed for votes.

The mud-slinging on Harlow has, to date, only been metaphorical. Some may say it was a bad day for democracy, others may say: “Suck it up, that is all part of the contest.

It all started with one person on twitter asking a councillor if they were: “Still learning how to be a councillor and to not (sic) spend tax payers money in the Garden of India” Other Indian restaurants in Harlow are available (but don’t tell Mo we said that).

There was also a little incident outside Manor Hatch shops.

“Police were contacted at around 5pm on April 19 with reports of an incident outside the Co-op store at Tumblers Road in Harlow which took place the previous day. Officers were informed that a woman felt intimidated by a man who was distributing leaflets while she was doing the same. The man engaged her in conversation but made no threats or offensive comments. Officers offered to attend the woman’s address to provide reassurance but were told it wasn’t necessary”.

Then we had the growing anger from the Blocked by Halfon group on twitter who were joined by another account called Robert Half-Off as well as another account that lampooned things they felt Mr Halfon had taken credit for. To be clear, we are not saying they are trolling. Simply saying that were part of a mosaic of political invective that took place on Thursday. Many of the members feel they are ordinary working people, attempting to enter into a discourse with the incumbent MP and subsequently find themselves blocked on social media.

Sometimes, there is a danger that a tweet can be mis-interpreted. One resident tweeted that Labour’s Suzy Stride was the “Only candidate so far to have made the effort to meet the electorate! #Tories”

This provoked a huge reaction from the leader of the Harlow Conservatives, cllr Andrew Johnson, who then got into a spat with Labour’s Emma Toal.

Even the poor, sensitive local press were getting it in the neck with Green candidate, Murray Sackwild questioning whether Robert Halfon’s advertising “skews editorial in his favour” Fair question. More delicately put than the Harlow College journalism student who tweeted a pic of Mr Halfon’s ad on Your Harlow and tweeted #boughtbyhalfon.

And we haven’t even mentioned Yvonne Marrs…

If this was a rugby match, then this may be the moment that the referee bring the two sides together and says: “Right, cut it out you lot..etc etc.”

In many ways this was what 1832, 1867, 1885 etc was all about (hat-tip to Mr Dave Morson St Marks 1980) but we just hope that everyone agrees to play fair.

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2 Comments for Has the General Election campaign in Harlow just turned ugly?:

tony durcan
2015-04-26 15:41:07

To be fair to the main parties I feel there has been a good atmosphere between us. Whilst we don't agree we do respect each other and will always have banter without malice. Some other groups might find this odd but it works in Harlow and long may it continue

2015-04-29 15:37:08

Really Tony? Attacking the MP's disability is fine is it? Cos to me it's pretty low, and your candidate should get the person responsible to apologize publicly - cos that really is disgraceful. As is the Labour Candidate publicly shouting at a UKIP candidate for daring to campaign in Little Parndon as it's "a Labour Area" - no such thing Suzy! As is the case mentioned above when a TUC member, in front of a Labour Councillor verbally attacked a UKIP deliverer to the extent that the case was reported to the Police. Not to mention the anti-UKIP rallies in the town, and the anti-UKIP leaflets being delivered - all containing lies and nasty unfounded allegations. I would suggest it's become a very nasty campaign - and the nasty stuff seems to be coming from Labour! After all the insults fly first from the one who has lost the arguments!!!

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