Far-right fears killed off our Esther McVey protest

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. Picture: PA/Kirsty O'Connor

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. Picture: PA/Kirsty O'Connor - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

I jointly run a local campaign group, Wilmslow for Europe. Last Friday we were planning to hold a peaceful protest of about 30 members outside the constituency office of our MP, Esther McVey.

The local police gave our plans their blessing but in the end we were urged to cancel because we learned that the event was likely to be sabotaged.

It is very disturbing indeed that our right to peaceful protest is effectively being denied through attempts to stir things up and a political atmosphere poisoned by far-right extremism and threats to MPs.

We are in a situation where our own MP is not representing us and is ignoring our requests to hold a public meeting with us. She has been found to have lied to parliament over Universal Credit and recently she lied to people on social media about the UK being forced to join the euro in 2020.

According to the government's own analysis, if we were to have no deal with the EU, the north west stands to take a hit of 12% to its GDP over the next 15 years. That represents significant, life-changing decline for our region; a catastrophic loss of jobs and an economic hit that will adversely affect all the public services on which we all so depend.

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We do not consider this to be a responsible position for Esther McVey to support and, given that she has a duty to act in the national interest, this, along with her dishonesty means that we want to challenge her and hold her to account.

It is appalling that MPs have been threatened for their politics since the referendum but we enter very dangerous territory when we quash democratic activity for fear of violence or the assumption that any protest will be threatening.

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Just as we should not shy away from the right to hold another referendum, should that be the only way to break the political deadlock, we should also be able to hold peaceful protests without being deterred by threats of sabotage or prior accusations of possible harassment when no harassment was ever intended.

Sarah Murphy

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