Press release

Review into abuse and intimidation in elections

The government has announced a review into abuse and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates during elections.

The Prime Minister has asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life to conduct a review into the issue of intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates.

The review was announced by Chris Skidmore, the Minister for the Constitution, in a Westminster Hall Debate. It follows reports of abuse experienced by Parliamentary candidates who stood during the 2017 General Election.

The independent committee will look at the nature of the problem of intimidation. They will consider the current protections and measures in place for candidates, and will report back to the Prime Minister with recommendations for further tackling the issue.

A number of candidates have come forward about abuse they experienced during the campaign for the 2017 General Election. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism recently published their Electoral Conduct Report which included reports from candidates of all parties of racist graffiti, death threats and abuse on social media.

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

I have been horrified by stories from colleagues about the scale and nature of the intimidation, bullying and harassment they suffered during the general election campaign.

Robust debate is a vital part of our democracy, but there can be no place for the shocking threats and abuse we have seen in recent months.

We must all work together to banish this behaviour, and I would urge MPs and candidates from all parties to report their experiences to this review so we get the fullest possible picture – and can take the action required to stamp it out.

Minister for the Constitution, Chris Skidmore said:

A cornerstone of our democracy is that everyone’s voice matters and no-one should be intimidated by abuse. We need to ensure that our democracy is a tolerant and inclusive one, in which all future candidates for election will not be dissuaded or intimidated from standing for public office.

The committee will set out how they will take forward the review in due course.

Further information

The Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life is Lord Bew. The Committee is well respected and operates independently of government, regulators and politicians. More details on the work of the Committee can be found on their homepage.

The Prime Minister has asked the Committee to review the issue of intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood at the 2017 General Election. The Committee may also consider the broader implications for other candidates for public office and public office holders.

This review should:

  • examine the nature of the problem and consider whether measures already in place to address such behaviour are sufficient to protect the integrity of public service; and whether such measures are (a) effective, especially given the rise of social media, and (b) enforceable

  • produce a report for the Prime Minister, including recommendations for action focused on what could be done in the short- and long-term, and identifying examples of good practice.

The review will recognise the important role of legitimate scrutiny of those standing for public office by the public and the press.

Published 12 July 2017