West Norfolk councillor slams Conservatives over ‘bullying’
A West Norfolk councillor has accused Conservative party officials of not doing enough to tackle bullying within the party, despite past scandals.
Sandra Squire was the subject of social media posts and intimidatory behaviour which has left another councillor facing disciplinary action.
But she says her own experience shows the party has not changed since the death of a young activist, Elliot Johnson, amid allegations of bullying, two years ago.
Mrs Squire, who is now sitting as an independent on both West Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council, said the affair, including her own suspension from the party, had taken a huge toll on herself and her family and even led her to contemplate taking her own life.
She said this week: “They’ve clearly learnt nothing. I tried on several occasions to discuss with them how bullying was occurring in the party and they just didn’t want to know.
“I just got ‘we understand how distressing this must be for you.’
“Even when they received my resignation email, which I know went to the top of the party, they still chose to ignore it. Like if I’ve quit – they don’t have a problem anymore.
“I had lots of outside bodies which I loved and I had to walk away from the lot to be able to be free and feel like I could breathe again.”
Though she praised both borough council leader Brian Long and county leader Cliff Jordan for their personal support, she said she could not re-join their ranks.
She said: “To go back would mean having to deal with South West & North West Norfolk Associations and Central Office. I’m not willing to do that.”
The Conservative Party had not responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press yesterday.
However, a code of conduct for representatives published on its website says holders of public office should “not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others.”
The code also defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened.”
But Mrs Squire said: “The party has a problem, where you are labelled a troublemaker if you complain and where you are expendable at any cost. Guilty until proven innocent and I’m not playing that game anymore.”