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Harlow Conservative councillor says criticism of colleague cllr Seales is evidence of wider problem of “discrimination and abuse”

Politics / Sun 12th Feb 2023 at 06:52pm

A VETERAN Harlow Conservative councillor has described criticism of one of his colleagues as evidence of “discrimination and abuse”.

Sumners and Kingsmoor Councillor Nick Churchill was referring to an article written by the portfolio holder for Governance, cllr Stacey Seales.

Cllr Churchill said:

Cllr Seales letter published yesterday contained many points covering multiple subjects but rather than creating sensible adult discussion it drew out discrimination and abuse mainly from anonymised commentator’s (aka keyboard warriors) but more worryingly from a senior member of Harlow Labour.

To be clear I am not writing to defend Cllr Seales, she is perfectly capable of defending herself, not that she needs to in any way. 

I am writing this to once again expose the hatred and abuse that we as elected representatives (of all parties) have to put up with in our daily lives, sometimes even causing mental health problems. 

I have to express my disappointment but not surprise that Cllr Durcan chose to make comment criticising Cllr Seales’s letter, more so that he works within the NHS representing nurses and I know he would be the first to jump on discriminatory or abusive comments and raise merry hell, here he is really showing his colours joining in with the other commentators effectively giving credence and encouragement to them. If he is prepared to sink to these depths, he really needs to ask himself if he is really representing the people who voted for him.

The increase of hate speech and abuse against elected representatives has been on the increase over the last few years particularly on social media. It has almost become normal to read comments on Facebook that involve the words ‘I Hate XXXX’ or ‘They are all dishonest/taking bribes to feather their own nests’ and similar accusations and slurs against people who have volunteered to be councillors.

Councillors don’t get paid (they get a small allowance), are expected by some to be available 24/7 (yes, I have been contacted on Christmas day before now). We rarely get thanked for our help if we succeed and blamed and criticised (usually in Facebook) if we don’t. 

Most of the work we do for our constituents we cannot talk about, its confidential and rightly so. But we keep doing it because we asked our constituents to trust us to represent them and they paid us the complement of voting for us to do just that.

So my message to all the haters and keyboard warriors [who will undoubtably enjoy sharing their opinions and most likely being rude and/or abusive below this story or on the Facebook post of it.] is, please think about what you say, it can be very hurtful and upsetting, but as some of you say ‘that’s ok they work for us, they must do what we say’. 

Would you like to read abusive or hateful things written about you? 

And to those that reckon we are all useless and you could do better please join a political party or stand as an independent first thing you will learn if elected is you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you may try.

Regards

Councillor Nick Churchill

Member Champion for Mental Health and Wellbeing

Ward Councillor for Sumners and Kingsmoor

Clarification: We asked councillor Churchill to clarify what he meant by discrimination. He told us it referred to comments regarding the standard of literacy in articles written by councillor Seales.

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9 Comments for Harlow Conservative councillor says criticism of colleague cllr Seales is evidence of wider problem of “discrimination and abuse”:

Declan mcD
2023-02-12 19:33:34

Glad for the clarification at the end. People are prejudiced against Councillors who can’t make sense then?

Waida Forman
2023-02-12 19:34:04

Nick stop using this race card. Cllr Seale was being criticized for the way she wrote her letter. This has nothing to do with her being black. Can't we do any criticism without being called racist? For the record I am black myself. This is about politics not the person's colour. Unfortunately people like Nick will create division and hatred.

Neil Warner-Baker
2023-02-12 20:05:47

I completely agree... Freedom of Speech has gone too far. What a great rallying cry for the Party. Ban Free Speech.

David Forman
2023-02-12 20:14:25

Anybody is open to criticism when they place their thoughts in print for the public to read. Criticism of a letter that is meandering, contradictory and poorly written is a legitimate target for criticism. However, I would agree with Nick Churchill that this criticism should not be abusive. Given that this week we had the findings of the Independent Review of Prevent published, and it emphasised free speech, that Nick would be keen to defend it. The consequences of using racism as a slur to suppress opposition was highlighted repeatedly in the Review. It emphasised the Manchester Arena bombing Inquiry testimony from a security guard who failed to question the bomber after having received a report of "suspicious behaviour" from a member of the public. The security guard explained his lack of diligence thus: "I was scared of being wrong and being branded a racist if I got it wrong and would have got into trouble. It made me hesitant.” Casual and unfounded accusations of racism can lead to dire consequences. See paragraph 6.56 of Review at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-prevents-report-and-government-response

James Leppard
2023-02-12 21:09:44

I abhor any discrimination based upon race or ethnicity, not only from a moral viewpoint but, more importantly from a logical perspective: nobody has a choice regarding their race or ethnicity. The same cannot be said for religious, political or personal opinions, which are based upon personal choice and, as such should be open to the most rigorous scrutiny, debate and discussion. That is the essence of freedom of expression. I care not a jot if opinions are supposedly offensive, distasteful or unpopular, that is highly subjective. In a free society, what is most offensive is censorship.

Luke Burton
2023-02-12 23:59:05

I saw nothing racist or discriminatory in any of the comments. All of the criticism was perfectly valid and quite frankly made more sense than what the good Councillor wrote last night.

Dec Han
2023-02-13 06:36:39

This was/is not discrimination or abuse this is the true feelings of people who are fed up with the Tories who the people at the top have lied, cheated, used loopholes for personal gain profit wise as well as personal gain’s openly lied to everyone, then having disagreed with them pull the old discrimination/ abuse card, while still treating the population with utter contempt, a shameless Party who think they have a GOD like AURA and can do no wrong!!!!!! UNFORTUNATELY THIS IS TRUE BUT IN THEIR OWN EYES ONLY! BEGONE YOU DEVILS!!

nick
2023-02-16 15:51:24

Waida , I am disappointed that you even raised the race card, I certainly didn't. You are also correct that this is about politics but more about the hate expressed against politicians of all parties, Rather than enter into civilised discussion many nowadays seem to think it is ok to write and say abusive, obscene or threatening comments designed to upset and cause distress to the elected representatives they decide to target. I have been involved in looking at ways to combat this unsettling trend for a number of years and you may be aware of the LGA's Debate not hate campaign that was started in June 2022 following a massive survey of all councillors across the country that identified a worrying increase in both verbal and physical abuse and assaults against elected representatives. I also hope that when the online safety bill comes into law it will also have the effect of discouraging those who seem to think its ok to do what they do. As you well know Waida when you become a councillor you don't expect to be universally liked, its not a popularity contest, but as a democratically elected representative you would expect some small level of respect.

Dan Long
2023-02-23 11:08:39

Qaida, that is a bit rich coming from you as a former Labour councillor. The Labour party councillors and supporters are the first to use the race card when they have done something wrong. So give it a rest

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