A KEY supporter of Batley & Spen Labour candidate Tracy Brabin has been accused of making a mockery of a pledge to carry out a respectful and dignified election campaign.
Mark Martin is the Unite union’s regional spokesman, and as well as signing Ms Brabin’s nomination forms to stand in the contest to be the next Batley & Spen MP, he was present when all the local candidates joined Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered ex-MP Jo Cox, to commit to a fair and civilised campaign.
Yet immediately after Monday night’s well-attended election hustings at Batley’s Al-Hikmah centre, Mr Martin re-tweeted a social media post calling Independent candidate Paul Halloran a “racist, militarist, far right gobshite” and a “goon”.
After intervention and condemnation of his comments by Ms Brabin, hard-left activist Martin deleted the tweet from his timeline.
The original post by someone identifying themselves only as @luddites200 was attacking Mr Halloran for launching his general election campaign at the Luddite worker memorial in Liversedge, which was attended by over 100 local people.
It also linked to another attack-column warning followers to: “Beware far-right candidates posing as ‘independents’ in local elections.”
Mr Martin later commented on Twitter: “It appears my retweet of this post has upset the local Gammon and their friends in the local Press.”
‘Gammon’ is an insult used to describe middle-aged or older men on the political right, or who supported Brexit.
In a first for the current UK General Election campaign, Jo Cox’s sister Kim called on all candidates to show courtesy and civility during what always promised to be a heated few weeks on the doorsteps and hustings.
In a gathering at Jo Cox House in Batley, she said: “I had hoped that the murder of my sister Jo would lead to a better way of doing politics, but sadly that hasn’t always been the case.
“So this is the opportunity for us here in Batley and Spen to send a clear message to the country about the kind of democracy we all want.”
The pledge committed candidates to “setting an appropriate tone when campaigning, encourage constructive debate and tolerance of other views, and promote the dignity of others, including political opponents, treating all with courtesy and respect.”
Paul Halloran said: “I am very proud to have signed the Jo Cox Foundation pledge, the premise of which is something that is very close to my heart and which I will always stand by.
“We need to stop dirty tricks in politics so that it is a more civilised place that can be respected by everyone.
“I am very disappointed to hear that one of the Labour candidate’s closest supporters, indeed one of the 10 signatories on her election candidate papers, has already crossed the line by seeing it fit to share online complete lies and smears on my character. It’s unacceptable and I expect the Labour candidate to speak out against this behaviour.”
Ms Brabin said: “I have been very vocal about the need to dial down the rhetoric when it comes to political discourse.†I was honoured to sign the Jo Cox Foundation pledge; it’s a great initiative that should improve our politics for the better.†
“The retweet in question falls below what I believe is acceptable, and I’m glad Mr Martin has removed it after I spoke to him. I would ask my fellow candidates to ensure they are doing the same with their supporters.”
The Press approached the Mr Martin via his trade union employers, but did not receive a reply.