Vox Political: Portsmouth Tory Wanted to Smear Feminists and Other Opponents

This is another interesting piece from Vox Political. A Conservative member of Portsmouth town council, Scott Harris, wanted his friends and colleagues to collect information on various political opponents, including the local feminist group and a charity devoted to combating domestic violence, in order to smear them. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/05/tory-smear-councillor-sent-emails-to-his-intended-victims/ He was also looking at gathering information on a local government employee, who was getting information about the council under the Freedom of Information Act. The man was pursuing this as a private citizen, concerned at the way the town was being developed. Nevertheless, Harris wanted to find a way to get his bosses to sanction him.

This is a proper ‘Rotten Boroughs’ story, of the type that appears all too often in that column in Private Eye devoted to shady dealing by members of the local authorities. Many of them are about the efforts of councillors to shut down political opponents, even private citizens using their own time and means. This one was discovered through his own stupidity and his smear campaign unmasked in the Guardian before it could get going. But it shows how nasty and low the Tories are now going.

It also shows the very low priority the Conservatives give domestic violence. According to a piece in the I last week or so, the amount of violence against women is rising. The piece stated that campaigners linked this to the stresses created by Tory policies. Which might be another reason Mr Harris wanted the two groups smeared. It was another pair of voices criticising not just the violence itself and the council’s response to it, but it pointed to the underlying party political causes.

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