'I know where your children live': Council candidate reveals abuse

Breckland Councillor for Thetford Priory Susan Dowling. Photo: Breckland Council

Susan Dowling is a Labour candidate running for a seat on Norfolk County Council for Thetford East. - Credit: Breckland Council

A candidate in the county council elections has spoken of a stream of “threatening” and “intimidating” pieces of abuse she has received in the run-up to polling day.

Susan Dowling, Labour candidate running for a seat on Norfolk County Council for Thetford East, said she was “shocked at the level of vindictiveness” in the run-up to the elections. 

This is the first time Ms Dowling has run for a seat at county level and with it she has received a torrent of abuse.  

On April 24, the candidate took to Facebook to voice her concerns. She wrote: “I have been very heartened by the support, encouragement and offers of help from many people. The downside is a very vocal hostile element who think it is acceptable to abuse me personally.  

“This is a democracy and we all have the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to seek receive and impart information and ideas through any media. This is your right and mine.” 

Ms Dowling, who runs her own florist business, said she has received phone calls to her home - from men in particular - who have often been sexist or racist. 

Speaking to this newspaper, she added: “It is very threatening when it’s personal. When they say you are this and you are that or things like ‘I know where your children live’. It is intimidating. 

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“One of them said, ‘why are you doing this anyway, shouldn’t you be at home with your family’. It’s a bullying tactic. 

“But it’s the racist side I also find offensive - when they say things like ‘you only care about foreigners who come into this country’.

“It could easily put people off and It certainly made me think but we need more women in politics.” 

Ms Dowling said most people have been supportive and she has received messages from candidates across all political parties who say abuse is never acceptable.  

“There is a small percentage who are very vocal and hostile,” she said. 

“But I would like to stress how lovely most people have been. After I put that post on, I have had so many lovely messages from people from all sides of the political spectrum.” 

This newspaper will be participating in a social media boycott over the weekend to highlight the issue of online abuse.