Attack on Nigel Farage is an ‘affront to democracy’, says Jo Cox charity

Nigel Farage was attacked for the second time in a week on the campaign trail
Nigel Farage was attacked for the second time in a week on the campaign trail - DANNY LAWSON/PA WIRE

A charity set up in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox has condemned violence against election candidates as an “affront to democracy” after Nigel Farage was attacked twice in the space of a week.

The Reform UK leader has described the incidents as an extension of cancel culture and warned the latest instance, in which he narrowly missed being struck by a cup atop the party battle bus, could have put him in hospital. Last week he was hit by a milkshake.

Su Moore, chief executive at the Jo Cox Foundation, said such behaviour was a “really serious issue” that could lead to more extreme violence.

A cup is photographed being thrown towards Mr Farage
A cup is photographed being thrown towards Mr Farage - FRED DIMBLEBY

In an interview with the BBC, she encouraged members of the public to engage with candidates, but insisted “there is a way of doing that without that tipping over into abuse”.

“There is a place in all elections for robust debate, absolutely, but physical violence against candidates is an affront to democracy,” she said.

The Jo Cox Foundation was established in memory of Ms Cox, the former Labour MP for Batley and Spen, after she was murdered by the far-Right extremist Thomas Mair in 2016.

In the run-up to the general election, the charity has been urging candidates to “reject intimidation and abuse” by signing up to its “civility pledge”, committing them to acting with integrity, honour and compassion, and behaving respectfully towards others.

Mr Farage campaigning with the Tory defector Lee Anderson in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
Mr Farage campaigning with the Tory defector Lee Anderson in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire - DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE

It comes after the head of the Electoral Commission warned that political candidates have been forced to seek counselling because they have been so traumatised by abuse on the campaign trail.

A survey of hundreds of candidates standing at the English local elections in May found nearly half had experienced intimidation or abuse, while a majority of women said that they avoided campaigning alone.

‘Families threatened’

Speaking to the BBC following the attacks on Mr Farage, Ms Moore said: “People don’t realise how serious this is because it isn’t just a bit of heckling out and about in public or some cross words exchanged on social media.

“It’s things like firebombing people’s houses, having their tyres slashed, people having their families threatened, particularly for female politicians, multiple threats of sexual violence.”

Politicians have also condemned “violence” towards Mr Farage after the incidents on the campaign trail.

Police arrested a man in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on Tuesday after he allegedly threw objects at the Reform leader while he was campaigning in the town. It is thought the suspect was on his own, but Mr Farage said that he had been warned about a “Left-wing mob” in Barnsley.

Victoria Thomas Bowen, 25, was charged with assault by beating and criminal damage after a milkshake was thrown over Mr Farage as he left the Moon and Starfish Wetherspoon pub in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, on June 4.

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters in Kirkby, Ashfield, the constituency of the Tory defector Lee Anderson, Mr Farage said he was now “having to think twice about what I do”.

Urging people to treat their candidates with respect, Ms Moore said: “I think people forget that they are people with families.

“Over the next couple of weeks you are likely to see your candidates out and about and, yes, do engage with them, but there is a way of doing that without that tipping over into abuse.”