Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View and a three–tour war veteran, described how a man confronted his wife “full of rage and hate” during the election as he joined the chorus of MPs who have raised serious concerns about safety while on the campaign trail.
Mr Mercer, speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, said: “A van pulled up right in front of me, and a 40-something year-old man started losing his temper.
“’You’ve killed people’ was his general theme, interspersed with ‘Tory scum’ and plenty of the F-word. He pulled up on to the grass and I saw a Labour poster in his rear window.“Instead of coming to me he approached my wife. He didn’t talk to her; he yelled in her face, pointing past her head, screaming obscenities about the ‘f****** Tories’.
“‘Oi, what on earth are you doing?’ I shouted as I approached him. He turned and started walking towards me. I thought he was going to hit me. His face was full of hate and rage. It was the visceral hatred of it that struck me.
“When did it become OK to threaten women with violence? To scare and intimidate women in public for no reason than they support a different political party to you?“I told him that his behaviour was unacceptable. I asked what was wrong with him, since when had he suffered some huge injustice that had led to this seething rage?
“He said he hadn’t; he was just a Labour supporter.”
Mr Mercer, a Captain in the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, who heroically saved lives in Afghanistan, decided to go into politics with a focus on improving provisions for mental health and former soldiers.Theresa May has been so alarmed by the “shocking” reports of abuse that she has tasked a new policy unit with investigating ways MPs can be protected while campaigning and possibly issuing tougher criminal sentences.
Officials at Tory HQ are understood to have received widespread reports about intimidation by hard-Left supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign.
Many candidates are understood to have complained about posters being vandalised, with some concerns the destructive behaviour may have been co-ordinated by hard-Left groupsThe abuse means Tory supporters in some areas were unwilling to display party posters because of concerns their homes could be targeted by Left-wing thugs.
One senior campaigner said: “We didn’t put up a big amount of posters until the day before the election because they would get smashed. It looks like you’re not campaigning as much as the other parties.”
Voters who made Tory-backing statements on Twitter, Facebook and other internet sites are said to have been swamped with abusive responses in what appeared to be a co-ordinated online blitz.