'Politics is becoming more and more fractured': Abuse of MPs and councillors condemned

Nigel Evans, former Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley
-Credit: (Image: Westminster)

Ribble Valley councillors across different parties have condemned abuse of people in politics and paid tribute to Nigel Evans, the area's former long-serving Conservative MP defeated at the general election.

Conservative and Labour borough councillors acknowledged the big changes at Westminster stemming from last week's general election, which included wins for two new Labour MPs for the new Ribble Valley and Pendle & Clitheroe constituencies. And a new Labour councillor was also welcomed following a by-election in Clitheroe's St Mary's ward. Speaking at Ribble Valley Council's full meeting this week, Conservative Coun Stephen Atkinson, the council leader, also reflected on 'fractured' politics and abuse of politicians including Nigel Evans and Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips.

Coun Atkinson said: "I want to thank everyone at our council and volunteers who were involved in the general election and the Ribble Valley by-election. The integrity of the election process, the peaceful transfer of power, is one of the thing we enjoy in the UK. We welcome William Holden as a new councillor after the by-election in Clitheroe and we also congratulate the area's new MPs, Maya Ellis and Jonathan Hinder.

READ MORE: Labour gains extra councillor after Clitheroe by-election

Stephen Atkinson of Ribble Valley Council
Stephen Atkinson of Ribble Valley Council -Credit:Ribble Valley Council

"I also want to thank Nigel Evans, who was our MP for the past 32 years. He has spent his working life in the Ribble Valley. His humility made him distinctive and I'm sure it played a role in him being elected twice as deputy speaker at Westminster.

"However, politics seems to have drifted towards personal attacks on councillors and MPs such as Nigel Evans. If this type of behaviour is allowed to become normalised, it will do. One of the most shocking things I saw in the general election was the MP Jess Phillips talking about intimidation and new MPs at Westminster being given personal alarms. This is appalling. Politics is becoming more and more fractured."

He said elected politicians, including councillors, could not realistically deal with all the issues society faces. Thankfully, the Ribble Valley has other organisations too, such as community and civic groups and networks, which played important roles in local life too. Later, Coun Atkinson passed a photo to the Local Democracy Reporting Service of a damaged Conservative Party election hoarding, deliberately broken during the last year's local elections.

A deliberately damaged Conservative Party sign and snapped pole n the 2023 Ribble Valley local elections
A deliberately damaged Conservative Party sign in the 2023 Ribble Valley local elections -Credit:Coun Stephen Atkinson

Picking-up on the themes, Labour Coun Lee Jameson said: "In the last election, we did not run a personal campaign. I think it was a fair campaign. I agree that the Jess Phillips issue was appalling. We will always fight elections on politics and not personalities. Regarding Nigel Evans, anybody who has served the community for 32 years deserves a medal. Being a councillor can be taxing in a small borough like this. And when he was MP, Nigel Evans was subject to a lot of focus. He deserves recognition for his years of service and I wish him well, personally."

READ MORE: Call for review of weekly Ribble Valley bin collections to save money

Lee Jameson of Ribble Valley Council
Lee Jameson of Ribble Valley Council -Credit:Ribble Valley Council

Coun Jameson added: "At the Clitheroe by-election count, it was a tight, neck-and-neck situation. At one point, I thought the Lib-Dems could have snatched it from us. The political pendulum does swing. At the end, I offered Kristian Torgersen, the Conservative candidate, some words. I told him I stood for election five times before eventually being elected. I told him not to give up. Serving the community is one of the greatest honours of my life."

At start the meeting, the Ribble Valley mayor's chaplain, the Rev Liz McLean, Vicar of St Peter's Church, Salesbury, gave a prayer reflected on changes of the general election and appealed for goodwill and respect for everyone in political life.

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