Toby Perkins MP has urged the government to drop a clause in the Elections Bill which could see candidates barred from standing for political office because they hold opinions that are deemed to be “offensive”.
Constituents have contacted Toby with their concerns about the clauses in the Elections Bill given that the Bill does not define what constitutes ‘offensive’ comments and there are fears that this could be used to restrict free speech.
Clauses 26 and 27 of the Elections Bill say that if a person was motivated by hostility towards an elected politician, candidate or campaigner when committing one of a long list of offences, then the court must disqualify that individual from holding elected office for five years.
Toby stated “The points raised by constituents in their correspondence around candidate exclusion are hugely concerning. It is important that any system is robust, however it is for voters not legislators to decide who is fit to be elected, and this vague definition is deeply troubling”.
He added “The legislation promoted by the government is dangerous and could erode our democratic freedoms. I can assure constituents that I won’t support any such legislation that could hinder residents from actively taking part in democracy”.