A 'disgrace' or 'childish'? Labour and Conservatives row in Hartlepool after social media post asks voters to kick a Tory

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A political row has broken out ahead of the local elections following a complaint from Conservatives over a social media post by a Labour candidate.

Town Conservatives said they have raised a complaint with Hartlepool Borough Council’s returning officer and Cleveland Police regarding Labour’s candidate in the Rossmere ward Quewone Bailey-Fleet.

It surrounds a social media post, which the Conservative group “believe to raise the prospect of violence towards Conservative candidates in the local elections”.

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Town Labour Party chiefs have responded by accusing the Conservatives of being “obsessed with negative campaigning and tying up council officers and our police with numerous childish complaints”.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

A screenshot of the post made by the “Quewone Bailey-Fleet for Rossmere ward” page on Sunday, which has since been removed, said she “spent the afternoon hearing some creative voter sentiments about Tory members”.

The post said: “One resident swore that if a Tory leader lived on his estate for a month, they’d be singing the 1940’s Labour supporter chant: ‘Someone’s knocking at your door, if it’s Labour let them in, if it’s Tory kick them in the chin!’

“While we DO NOT condone violence, we do agree it’s time to kick Tory mismanagement out of our town by voting Labour on May 2.”

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A statement from Hartlepool Conservatives had said they “will not accept this approach” and believe Labour “should stand their candidate down without delay”, adding they expect “immediate action”.

It continued: “Whether directly encouraging violence or not, to even raise the thought is a disgrace.

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“Candidates of all parties are local people who care passionately about improving our town – no individual standing for election should be exposed to violence, or even the potential of it, being used against them.

“We all care about Hartlepool, regardless of our political allegiances, and we would seek to protect candidates of all parties from such rhetoric and dangerous ideas.”

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It adds: “Democracy is only ensured when the safety of candidates and the electoral process is upheld.”

However, Hartlepool Labour Party chiefs have hit back, labelling the complaint “pathetic desperation from a Conservative Party that knows the game is up”.

A Labour Party spokesperson added: “While the Labour Party is focusing on a positive message of delivering for residents, including securing better value from our council, tackling crime and antisocial behaviour, cleaning up our town and ensuring jobs and growth, they seem to be obsessed with negative campaigning and tying up council officers and our police with numerous childish complaints.

“We would strongly urge them to adopt a period of sustained silence.”

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Twelve of Hartlepool Borough Council’s 36 seats will be contested on May 2.