Charles Kennedy’s brother-in-law calls for respectful campaign

The late politician's brother-in-law has called for the rest of the Holyrood campaign to be ‘open, honest and respectful’.

Charles Kennedy’s brother-in-law calls for respectful campaign PA Ready

Charles Kennedy’s brother-in-law has called for a zero-tolerance approach to abuse during the remainder of the Holyrood election campaign.

The former Liberal Democrat leader was bombarded with a deluge of “abhorrent” personal abuse during the 2015 general election campaign where he lost his seat.

Mr Kennedy died less than a month after the election from a haemorrhage linked to his battle with alcoholism.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have now called for a “Kennedy Commitment” where Scotland’s political parties would agree to “challenge and denounce” abuse of candidates and “treat political opponents, journalists and the public with respect”.

The late MP’s brother-in-law James Gurling has written a joint letter with Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie and urged politicians to commit to “open, honest and respectful debate”.

Mr Gurling said: “The reaction to BBC Alba’s recent documentary reminds us how missed Charles is but also how abhorrent people of all political persuasions thought the online abuse was.

“We must never go back to those old divisions.

“With social media playing an increasingly prominent role in elections, politicians can show they have learned the lessons of the past and send a clear message of the value we hold in open, honest and respectful debate.”

The intervention follows incidents during the Scottish Parliament election campaign, including a brick being hurled through the Lib Dems’ Edinburgh office, a man being charged following an incident with SNP candidate Fergus Mutch and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar being racially abused.

Rennie said he was grateful for the solidarity shown by the other party leaders following the incident at the Lib Dems’ headquarters, and added: “The behaviour we experienced this week is simply beyond the pale.

“On behalf of my party and the staff involved, I am thankful to the party leaders for their support following the incident.

“The public deserve politicians who are able to turn a page in Scottish politics. I am therefore urging all the parties to show the best of Scotland, come together and unite against any and all abuse.

“Charles Kennedy was well known for disagreeing well with political opponents. I hope every candidate can sign up to this commitment in his name and live by it, not just for the election, but for their whole political life.”

Sarwar said: “I will be signing up to the ‘Kennedy Commitment’.

“Charles Kennedy was a dedicated public servant who was committed to making Scotland a fairer nation.

“Our politics should be about what unites us, not what divides us.

“Scottish Labour is leading a positive and respectful campaign, and will continue to do so.”

Kirsten Oswald, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, said: “As the First Minister said at the beginning of the campaign, the SNP will call out abuse, harassment and intimidation every time and it’s welcome that with the exception of a few isolated incidents, this campaign has been overwhelmingly respectful as most campaigns in Scotland are.

“We will work with any and all parties to challenge hate and abuse wherever it rears its ugly head.”

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