1. ITV Report

4 out of 10 Welsh politicians 'abused or harassed'

Credit: Richard B. Levine/SIPA USA/PA Images

The Electoral Reform Society Cymru sent surveys to politicians across Wales and 250 responded with their experiences:

I was sent excrement through the post in a(very tacky) Valentine’s card

[I received] inappropriate sexual advances by constituents during advice surgeries and during door to door canvassing sessions

– Respondent

When I worked for politicians I had access to their social media, answered the phone on their behalf and opened their correspondence... I opened an envelope with razor blades stuck to the inside.

A rock (and then traffic cone) was thrown at our shopfront office window, shattering the glass all over my colleague. I was stalked home by a constituent… On social media there were the usual rude comments about my bosses’ weight.

My other boss who had a family had threats directed at his wife and children as well as himself. I know that if ever stood then I would just have to accept this level of abuse - and being a woman I can only imagine the step up!

That being said I am not comfortable with putting those I love - my partner and family - in the line of the abuse. Frankly they don’t deserve it

– Respondent

The Electoral Reform Society(ERS) Cymru says a majority of female politicians say they have suffered harassment or abuse.

Of the 266 respondents to the survey, 121 said they had been abused or harassed either in office or while campaigning, which includes 54% of female respondents.

As well as the abuse and harassment, the ERS Cymru says the reality of being a politician was found to be a barrier to politics with the effects on family life being a major factor, particularly for councillors who often have to balance part or full time jobs with their duties in addition to caring for family members.

The financial implications of becoming a candidate were also found to be a barrier to many who might consider standing.

This report offers a shocking account of the realities of being a politician in Wales. Some of the abuse faced by elected representatives is appalling.

That over half of female politicians who took part in our report have said they have been abused in office is horrifying. Given this it’s no wonder that many people look at politics and think it's not for them.

We need to look at modernising our institutions and work with parties to identify and develop a more diverse set of candidates. Alongside this we also need to take the levels of abuse and harassment that politicians are facing seriously, and create a set of responses that can more effectively deal with this.

We hope that this report acts as a wakeup call for political parties, institutions and even social media companies. Our recommendations are varied and may make uncomfortable reading for many parties who currently take little action on diversity, yet we believe they are necessary to create a politics in Wales that better reflects the population.

– Jess Blair, ERS Cymru Director