Political leaders support campaign to encourage respectful debate
West Oxfordshire District Council is supporting the Debate not Hate campaign launched by the Local Government Association. The campaign serves as a reminder, that democracy thrives on discussion but should never involve personal attacks or abuse.
Leaders from political parties across West Oxfordshire have agreed to promote standards of public discussion and debate on local issues. They have agreed cross party support to undertake healthy debate and expel threatening or abusive behaviour, either in person, or on other platforms such as social media..
Cllr Andy Graham, Group Leader of West Oxfordshire Liberal Democrats and Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council said, “Debating and disagreement is a good thing for democracy. Abuse and personal attacks are not acceptable and cross the line of what is acceptable behaviour. One in ten councillors in the UK has received abuse and this should not be tolerated.
“Intimidation has no place in local politics and actually damages our democracy when talented people are put off from taking part in government due to the abuse they see politicians experiencing in-person and online.”
Cllr Duncan Enright, Deputy Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Labour and co-operative West Oxfordshire District Council Group Leader added, “Councillors nationally and locally have been verbally attacked in public and have seen threats delivered to their home address. This is not political banter, it is a serious issue and while we will all disagree on a wide range of topics, we can have adult conversations and debate to resolve differences and work together for the benefit of our areas..”
Cllr Michele Mead, Group Leader of the Conservatives at the council said “The councillors at West Oxfordshire District Council do not always agree, they take part in good healthy debate, but it is always done respectfully.
“We are all encouraging everyone in West Oxfordshire to make sure we debate and challenge each other in a respectful and healthy way. It is fundamental to our democratic process and ultimately will mean we can do more for West Oxfordshire. ”
Cllr Rosie Pearson, Group Leader of the Green Party at West Oxfordshire District Council stated “Abuse is very different from a good robust debate. This is also an important precedent for residents who want to become councillors in the future.”
Cllr Richard Langridge, Group Leader of the Independent Councillors in West Oxfordshire said, “This isn’t about councillors being snowflakes or people who cant take a joke, or told they are wrong. Its about respect and debate. We understand that people won’t always agree with us and we are open to feedback but we are asking people to do so in a way that they would expect to be treated. It is perfectly fine to disagree, as it always has been. Good decisions come from listening and compromise, without aggression”
The Local Government Associations Debate Not Hate campaign aims to raise public awareness of the role of councillors in local communities, encourage healthy debate and improve the response to and support those in public life facing abuse and intimidation.
As stated by the LGA ‘The intimidation and abuse of councillors, in person or otherwise, undermines democracy; preventing elected members from representing the communities they serve, deterring individuals from standing for election, and undermining public life in democratic processes.’
Notes to editors