Following on from Medway Conservatives taking three years to suspend Cllr Franklin over his offensive tweeting, we decided to keep the iFAQ relevant this week, by asking this question to all councillors:
What acceptable reasons are there for a political party taking three years to take any action against a councillor engaging in hate speech online after it is highlighted in a full council meeting?
As usual, we told all councillors that their answers would be published entirely unedited. They are presented below in the order they were received.
I do not believe there is an excuse for a councillor or anybody to make racist remarks, suspension should have happened straight away.
Cllr Dorte Gilry, Labour, Twydall
Never acceptable especially as the Medway Tories and the Council’s solicitor were warned about this by Cllr Vince Maple and ignored his concerns.
Cllr Teresa Murray, Labour, Rochester East
I am someone who has consistently spoken up against hate speech whether islamophobia or anti-Jewish rhetoric on the far left and right. There is literally no place for hate in any mainstream movement and those engaged, promoting or tacitly supporting individuals who hide racism under a venir should be exposed and managed out.
The local Conservatives in this case were given ample opportunity to manage this situation but brushed a very public issue under the carpet.
The other two candidates standing for the Tories in the ward are however not racist and do not deserve to be tarnished by association and I look forward to debating them on the track record of the Tory Council. This is a lesson for all parties that those promoting division and hatred can’t be allowed near mainstream political parties and should be challenged when exposed.
Cllr Tristan Osborne, Labour, Luton and Wayfield
I fully understand the point you are making, but I hope you can appreciate it would be highly inappropriate and unfair for anyone in any official position to make any comment on this case since it is being formally investigated. And that includes making general comments which clearly relate to the case.
Hopefully a conclusion will be reached before too long, and then I am sure comment will be easier.
Cllr Stuart Tranter, Conservative, Rochester West
There are no acceptable reasons for not doing something about this
And for some Cllrs to say they did not know about it is a complete farce because it was highlighted and spoken about at the Full Council meeting.
For a purported Christian person to speak like this, belies belief.
To see and read it again, is just awful.
Heads in sand.
Cllr Pat Cooper, Labour, Gillingham North
There is no acceptable reason for this
Cllr Julie Shaw, Labour, Chatham Central
There is no acceptable reason. Totally, totally unacceptable – action must be taken as a matter of urgency – the matter fully investigated forthwith and when the facts have been collected action must be taken without delay against the person or any persons engaging in hate speech in any place.
Cllr Roy Freshwater, UKIP, Peninsula
I don’t believe there really is any acceptable reason. In the case of Cllr Franklin’s offensive and anti- Muslim social media posts, stronger action should have been taken immediately. Ignoring the issue shows a tacit acceptance and encourages others who may harbour similar views.
Cllr Naushabah Khan, Labour, Gillingham South
There are no acceptable reasons. But there are many “political” ones.
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard, Independent, Twydall
In my opinion there are no acceptable reasons for taking three years to investigate hate speech of any kind. It is worth noting that when Cllr Vince Maple raised this at the Budget Meeting in 2016 the Leader of the Council as well as 2 of our local MPs were all present.We live in a diverse society and should respect each other. Where there are differences we need to find a way to work them out. There are no excuses for hate speech on line or offline.
Cllr Nick Bowler, Labour, Rochester East
NEVER is it acceptable to ignore such comments from a Councillor or in fact anyone .
Any form of hate speech could incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against people .
Underreporting of hate speech is very common and victims rarely report incidents to the authorities for fear of retaliation or of not being taken seriously, or they have no confidence in the justice system.
What type of message to those victims does the complete lack of action taken by a political party against an elected Councillor send out in Medway.
I would guess It will probably come as no surprise to those individuals who still suffer in silence on a daily basis!
Cllr Dan McDonald, Labour, Gillingham South
We received no response to this question from Cllr Aldous (Con), Cllr Avey (Con), Cllr Bhutia (Con), Cllr Brake (Con), Cllr D Chambers (Con), Cllr R Chambers (Con), Cllr Chitty (Con), Cllr Clarke (Con), Cllr Craven (Ind), Cllr Doe (Con), Cllr Etheridge (Con), Cllr Fearn (Con), Cllr Franklin (Con), Cllr Godwin (Lab), Cllr Griffin (Con), Cllr Griffiths (Lab), Cllr Gulvin (Con), Cllr Hall (Con), Cllr Hicks (Con), Cllr J Iles (Con), Cllr S Iles (Con), Cllr Jarrett (Con), Cllr Johnson (Lab), Cllr Joy (Con), Cllr Kemp (Con), Cllr Mackness (Con), Cllr Maple (Lab), Cllr Opara (Con), Cllr Paterson (Lab), Cllr Pendergast (Ind), Cllr Potter (Con), Cllr Price (Lab), Cllr Purdy (Con), Cllr Royale (Con), Cllr Saroy (Con), Cllr Stamp (Lab), Cllr Tejan (Con), Cllr Turpin (Con), Cllr Wicks (Con), Cllr Wildey (Con), Cllr Williams (Con), Rehman Chishti MP (Con), Tracey Crouch MP (Con), and Kelly Tolhurst MP (Con).