Saturday May 13th 2017
This letter has been sent to the police today with regards to SNP activists in Dalkeith, Midlothian, by the Scottish Conservative candidate Chris Donnelly:
On Saturday 13th May we held our Street stall as usual in Jarnac Square, Dalkeith, in connection with the upcoming General Election.
Unfortunately the occasion was marred by threats and intimidation from a minority of SNP activists, which caused considerable fear amongst members of the public and my activists.
All this took place in the direct sight of the local MP and MSP, who did nothing to calm them down. In total, we had to put up with;
1. Videoing of us and the public from up to two feet away in an attempt to discourage engagement and intimidate our activists. Despite being asked repeatedly to stop they continued. This is entirely disrespectful and aggressive behaviour.
2. Standing in our tent and in front of our stall with a banner. Again, this was provocative and prevented voters reaching us. This went on for three hours.
3. Shoulder barging my activists and threatening a Member of the Scottish Parliament (Gordon Lindhurst) when they attempted to access our gazebo.
4. Verbally abusing our activists and “eyeballing” them.
5. Circling our gazebo videoing our activists for over two hours. This was done by a teenager aged around 14 on the direct instructions of a man with an SNP rosette.
The effect of standing in front of our stall is to prevent any voters from making contact with us, as several members of the public reported that they were scared to do so as a result of their behaviour. This negates the point of engaging with voters and effectively prevents us from exercising ours, and their, freedom of speech. It is childish behaviour which I have never seen before.
To be blunt, several of my activists were in immediate fear of their safety. It is unacceptable to attempt to prevent our right to engage with the public on public property.
The activists in question videoed the entire exercise as they goaded and intimidated my activists, despite being asked to stop more than once. This was clearly an attempt to start a fight on the street and record the consequences for political gain. Encouraging violence through such means is wholly unacceptable and I am concerned that with over one month to go until Election Day, this behaviour will escalate and that these activists will assault one of mine or the other parties.
At one stage a policewoman came to try to defuse the situation but they continued to video and cause an obstruction despite her efforts.
I have taken part in over 20 elections and been a candidate four times. I have never had cause to contact the police before as there has never been any problem with other activists. It is an unwritten rule that you do not interfere or prevent voters from approaching other stands and the behaviour this morning was entirely unacceptable. There has always been good humour and mutual respect between the parties and I wish this to continue.
I would request that this behaviour stops immediately from this minority of Midlothian SNP activists concerned and that there is a police presence in the square on a Saturday morning to ensure that their behaviour and intimidation of opponents ceases. The situation has gone too far and is not how politics should be conducted in this country. I have instructed all my activists to walk away from any aggressive or intimidating behaviour and should any occur it will be reported. We will locate our stall elsewhere next week in an attempt to defuse the situation but will return during the campaign to what I hope is a safe environment.
I appreciate that this kind of playground nonsense is not what the police need when resources are stretched, but my activists have the right to engage with voters without interference and the behaviour of these “activists” on Saturday morning presented a clear threat to members of the public, my activists, an MSP and the public.
I appreciate your time and help
Chris DonnellyTweet Share on Facebook