Council leaders have welcomed a Government move to create a new offence to crack down on threats and abuse towards candidates standing for election and campaigners.
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A Government consultation on electoral law, which will run until October 22, also seeks views on whether digital election material should always feature the details of those who produced it, following concerns about the potential risks of ‘fake news’ and foreign interference in future ballots.
The new law could see people stripped of their right to hold public office if found guilty of threats or abuse, either in person or online.
North Yorkshire County Council’s deputy leader Councillor Gareth Dadd said the intimidation candidates faced was escalating, partly due to social media, from extremists.
He said both Labour and Conservative candidates had been targeted at the last election.
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Cllr Dadd said: “Candidates of any political party and none should never ever have to suffer the abuse we have seen, especially at the last election. Social media has many advantages, but it has also got some evils.”
Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith said the Government recognised rising intimidation was stopping talented people from standing for election and was also putting voters “off politics”.
She said: “We can’t let intimidation of our candidates, campaigners, the public and those that serve us continue unchecked and I would encourage everyone to take part in this consultation.”