Democracy under attack in Lewes
On the night of 26 April a number of properties on Prince Edward’s Road and Park Road in Lewes, displaying political party posters, were vandalised. Graffiti were sprayed on houses displaying Liberal Democrat, Green and Labour posters, including words such as ‘traitors’ and ‘hypocrites’. The vandalism includes damage to property and the public footpath.
The recent vandalism appears to follow a national trend of anti-social behaviour against political posters and individuals who are involved in local democratic political activity.
Simon Burall, the local Lewes Liberal Democrats: for Lewes, Newhaven, Polegate and Seaford convenor, who lives at one of the addresses targeted, said:
“We are only days away from local elections and volunteers across the District are giving up many hours of their time to work for improvements to their local area. Acts of vandalism are never justified and these recent graffiti are completely different to the normal politics of Lewes. Whatever your political affiliations, we should live in a society which respects other people’s views.
This is a really worrying development for the health of our local democracy and we will work with others to ensure a more open tolerant society.”
“Our experience of campaigning in the district has been overwhelmingly positive so it’s surprising and very sad to see people expressing their political views in this thuggish and intimidating way.
‘It’s really clear from speaking to local people that they’re fed up of the squabbling and bitterness of Westminster politics at the moment.
The vandalism is bad enough, but using highly charged language like ‘traitors’ against political opponents is not acceptable. We will continue to shun this kind of negative campaigning and focus on positive messages in our campaign, and we stand with other parties against any form of intimidation or extremism.”
Emily Clarke for Castle Ward, Lewes Labour Candidate in Castle Ward said:
“It is really sad to see this kind of attack on democracy in our town and criminal damage done to the property of residents who are exercising their right to take part in the upcoming local elections. We are experiencing a time when the country is divided on huge issues such as Brexit and people on all sides hold strong and differing views. However, the use of this type of language aimed at local political opponents, who are genuinely working for the community in which they are standing and residents’ property is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. As with any attack on democracy, it is important that we stand together against those who seek to intimidate us.”