'We can't let them take away our democracy': Councillor who received threats speaks of dangers

Shropshire councillor Julia Buckley has revealed that she had threats made against her when she stood for parliament.

Shropshire Councillor Julia Buckley
Shropshire Councillor Julia Buckley

Speaking in the wake of the death of Essex MP, Sir David Amess, Councillor Buckley said that those standing for or being a member of parliament put their safety at risk.

But Councillor Buckley, who was a close friend of murdered MP, Jo Cox, said it must not put people off.

"We can not let those people take away our democracy. Yes we must look at things, like avoiding lone working, but we should never sacrifice democracy."

The Bridgnorth councillor was inspired by Jo Cox, who she worked closely with in Brussels and ran the New York Marathon with, to stand for parliament herself.

When she contested the Shrewsbury and Atcham seat in 2019 she said it was an eye opener.

"The police advise every candidate about safety, from the types of locks on window to phone and computer safety.

"I had threats made against me. The person who made those threats was arrested as they had made death threats to someone else," she said.

"When you make the decision to stand for public office it is not only your own security but that of your family that you have to take into consideration."

Social media had, Councillor Buckley said, de-personalised people and also allowed the attackers to become anonymous.

"The polarisation we saw in America and the toxicity of Brexit had changed the mood in politics.

"We used to have civilised debates and listen to the other side. That skill seems to have disappeared as has tolerance."

Councillor Buckley said that in local government people were more passionate about things on social media and wanted to vent their anger, but the threat was not physical.

"For every 10 people that are aggressive on Facebook I will have 20 people saying that that aggression is unacceptable."

"I have had to toughen up to deal with that. But for prospective MPs and MPs to have to have advice about their physical safety - in sleepy Shropshire - is not acceptable.

"This shouldn't be the society we live in."

The tragic death of MP Sir David Amess happened five years after the murder of Jo Cox.

"Jo was the same age as me and our children are the same age. So when I and the family have landmarks in our lives I always think of Jo and her family. Jo inspired me completely. She always had time for everyone, was always so jolly and tolerated everything. And she was probably too brave."

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