Comment & Opinion
by Leah Browning
Britain is a representative democracy, where each constituency elects its representative.
In South East Cornwall a number of residents have been vocal both on & off the keyboard, as they do not feel represented by the recently re-elected MP Sheryll Murray.
During the election campaign, now infamous video footage was released from Callington Hustings, one of only two the Conservative candidate Sheryll Murray had agreed to attend. She had found herself subject to widespread criticism & national press as more than a million people viewed her performance.
Following a question about foodbanks, Sheryll notoriously stated she was “Really pleased we have foodbanks in South East Cornwall”. She then threatened to call the police to remove a disabled lady from the audience for her refusal to be ignored by the MP. Sheryll later requested a minister’s wife “sit down” mid question about Arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
Since Sheryll retained her seat as MP with a 32.8% majority she has released a statement via local press saying she will no longer attend any hustings due to feeling “threatened”.
In her regular article for Cornish Guardian Mrs Murray wrote “The damage to the Conservative posters was immense and I am hoping that the police will be able to take action on this. I was also disappointed to see the far left try to take over the Callington hustings for their own political ends by shouting down when they had the soundbite they wanted.
“This meant a very uneven debate and I even saw some genuine local residents walk out. It just means I will not be attending this type of hustings event again as on occasion I felt quite threatened and unfortunately in these times security is a constant concern.”
Sheryll, who voted in favour of police cuts, is now depending on their diminished resources to take action over defaced campaign posters prior to the election, while victims of domestic violence & other crimes, may find incidents downgraded to a phone call with an officer, due to reduced staffing levels imposed since budget reduction.
Following Sheryll’s filibuster of the Disability Equality Training Bill, which could have provided disability awareness training for taxi drivers & extra support for those with guide dogs in November 2016, blocking it going through in the House of Commons, there have been persistent allegations regarding the blocking of constituents on social media platforms for reasonable questions & comments, which hit local press and generated the popular hashtag #BlockedbySheryll
Constituents are advised by the MP & her team via Facebook & local press to email instead. However many have complained of receiving “generic template responses”, that do not address the issue, offer sufficient explanation or answer direct or detailed questions.
It was teachers, disabled people, Methodist ministers, town councillors, concerned pensioners, foodbank volunteers, school governors, community workers & children who made up a large proportion of those who attended the hustings at the Town hall in Callington on the 3rd of June.
Taken from the Code of Conduct of a Member of Parliament –
“Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office”
“Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands”
These are the people who themselves are directly impacted in the community by austerity measures voted for by their MP. The very people offering support to others in the local community facing the affect & financial hardship due to policy change & reform voted for by the MP.
Having exhausted all potential avenues of communication with their representative member for South East Cornwall, were frustrated constituents left with no alternative opportunity for openness & accountability but to attend the hustings?
Could Sheryll be in breach of the Parliamentary code of conduct?
Is the real threat to Sheryll Murray MP, the threat of being held to account by her own constituents in South East Cornwall ?
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