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Causes and Consequences of Harassment and Intimidation of Candidates

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A webinar with Dr Daniel Ozarow from Middlesex University London and Dr Sofia Collignon from Royal Holloway, University of London

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Dr Sofia Collignon is Co-Investigator in the ESCR-funded Representative Audit of Britain project, part of Parliamentary Candidates UK and principal investigator in the Survey of Local Candidates in England. Her profile is available here: https://pure.royalholloway.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/sofia-collignon(38cdd0d4-8922-4c88-b186-8d58516a0c1f).html

Dr Daniel Ozarow is a Senior Lecturer in the Management, Leadership and Organisations Department at Middlesex University, London. His profile is available here: https://www.mdx.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/staff-directory/profile/ozarow-daniel

Seminar Outline

Since the tragic assassination of the Labour MP Joe Cox in 2016, there has been growing concern about intimidation, harassment and threats against British political figures. But away from the Westminster spotlight, thousands of local candidates and councillors face abuse and threats from the public or political opponents, often without the same protections as Members of Parliament. This seminar explores the findings of a large scale survey "Harassment and intimidation of local councillors in England" (Collignon & Rüdig, 2020) as well as the illustrative case study of Dan Ozarow who stood as a local council by-election candidate in February 2020 when he was victim to a horrific anti-Semitic smear campaign which included death threats and online abuse. The survey evidence demonstrates that intimidation of councillors in England is widespread and that young, BAME, LGBT, ethnic minorities and councillors with disabilities are particularly affected. Given the pre-existing underrepresentation of these groups in politics, this phenomenon has clear implications for inclusion. It finds that urgent action should be taken to mitigate the effects that harassment and intimidation may have on the political career and aspirations of underrepresented groups to avoid further damage on descriptive and substantive representation.

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