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Election candidate targeted by online trolls

PUBLISHED: 19:30 07 April 2019

Conservative Party candidate for Priory Heath in the Ipswich Borough Council elections Sam Murray says she has been called a

Conservative Party candidate for Priory Heath in the Ipswich Borough Council elections Sam Murray says she has been called a "nazi", a "murderer" and asked for sex by online trolls. Picture: SAM MURRAY

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A Conservative Party candidate has spoken of the sexist and derogatory abuse she has received after announcing she is standing in the local elections in Ipswich on May 2.

Ipswich labour councillor John Cook was saddened by news of more online trolls but said it is a sign of the times. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDIpswich labour councillor John Cook was saddened by news of more online trolls but said it is a sign of the times. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Sam Murray, 32, candidate for the Priory Heath ward, said she has received “abuse galore”, being labelled as a Nazi and a murderer in addition to sexist abuse since - and revealed you need “thick skin” to stand for election.

This weekend she took to social media to voice her concerns about a rising level of online hate.

In a video, she said: “I have noticed in the last few days that the level of online abuse has intensified.

“I’ve also had someone create a fake Twitter profile and ask me for sex and then used quite derogatory language towards me.”

As Ms Murray continued, this was not the only example of someone creating bogus social media accounts during the run-up to the election.

“Somebody has made fake social media profiles and has contacted associates of mine posing as me,” she added.

“Obviously the end game is just to annoy me.”

Although Ms Murray welcomed criticism of policy as a means of healthy debate, she did add that she believes the current torrent of abuse to be an issue not faced by male candidates.

“What I’m finding alarming is the different type of abuse I’m getting as a woman in comparison to my male peers,” she said.

“The language is derogatory, there’s a sexist undertone to a lot of it.

“It is simply not acceptable.”

Her candidacy follows calls nationwide for more women to get into politics, with the #AskHerToStand campaign beginning last year aiming to create an equal House of Commons in Westminster.

Ms Murray echoed the call for a more gender-equal political sphere, although she is concerned that the abuse she has received is a sign that the country is not prepared.

“There are all these campaigns going on, but society is not ready for it. It is disgusting. It needs to stop.”

She later added: “My advice is make sure you have incredibly thick skin and incredibly understanding family and friends.”

John Cook, Labour councillor for Alexandra ward, added that this is something that candidates from all political parties have been forced to endure.

“I think it is a sad statement on life that people are happy to sit behind keyboards and send abuse to anybody.

“Sadly it is something we’ve had to get used to in recent times - most people wouldn’t be comfortable saying such things at their doorstep.

“If people think they can better Ipswich, then they should stand for election themselves.”

Ms Murray is standing for one of the three seats in Priory Heath, which are currently all held by Labour.

Also standing for election in the Priory heath ward are: Luke Richardson (L), Lucy Drake (LD), Andy Patmore (G), Chris Newbury (Ind).

Key: L: Labour, C: Conservative, LD: Liberal Democrat, G: Green, UKIP: United Kingdom Independence Party, Ind: Independent.

For all a full list of the election candidates in Ipswich, see here.

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