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Local election candidates will no longer have to share home address with voters

Candidates standing at local elections will no longer be required to publish their home address on ballot papers, the prime minister has announced.

Speaking in Manchester yesterday, Theresa May said that the idea of the open public sphere was in danger due to “a tone of bitterness and aggression” that had entered public debate.

“In public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour,” she stated.

The prime minister warned that UK democracy faces the prospect of becoming “oppressively hostile,” and that many people were now not prepared to run the risk that comes from running for council seats.

Last week Claire Kober stood down as leader of Haringey Council, citing “sexism, bullying, undemocratic behaviour and outright personal attacks” which had left her “disappointed and disillusioned.”

“It is a depressing coincidence that in the week we are celebrating the first inclusion of women in the democratic process, one of the most senior women in local government has in effect been hounded out of office,” said May.

Last year an investigation by the Committee on Standards and Public Life found that “candidates who are female, black and minority ethnic or LGBT are disproportionately targeted in terms of scale, intensity and vitriol,” which May called “a cause of deep concern.”

Candidates targeted in their own homes

Some candidates, and their families, have been targeted for abuse in their own homes, May explained.

The committee’s report found that intimidation of candidates posed a threat to the integrity of the democratic process.

Since 2010 parliamentary candidates have not been required to publish their home address, and the prime minister has announced that plans to extend this to local government candidates will be brought forward.

The change is expected to be implemented in time for councillors standing in local elections in May 2019.

Voters will still be informed whether or not the candidate lives locally, and candidates will still be free to list their home address if they wish to do so.

May said that the government will take action to make the electoral process more robust, offering greater protections for people taking part in elections.

“While intimidation is already a crime, we will consult on making it an offence in electoral law to intimidate candidates and campaigners,” she continued.

The Conservative party has developed a new code of conduct for all representatives, putting respect and decency at its core.

May urged all political parties to follow the Tories’ lead and sign a respect pledge for all campaigning.

Referring to the recommendations in the committee’s report, the prime minister confirmed that the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing will implement each of the recommendations that refer to them.

“This includes ensuring a clear standard is set for the police when dealing with intimidation and online activity during an election.

“And it is online where some of the most troubling behaviour now occurs.”

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