5th Dec, 2016

War of words over conference clashes

Joshua Godfrey 30th Oct, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM’S MP has clashed with the Green Party’s Vale representative in a dispute about the actions of protesters outside the Conservative Party conference.

Thousands of people rallied outside the conference hall protesting against the Conservative Government cuts to public spending.

Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston was subject to spitting and abuse and told the Observer peaceful protesters only made up the minority.

However, Neil Franks, who represents the Green Party in the Vale, did not condone those who were spitting but accused Mr Huddleston for giving only a ‘blatant one-sided’ account of the protests.

“Mr Huddleston very deliberately didn’t mention the shear vast majority of people who exercised their democratic and fundamental right to protest and did so in a peaceful and respectful way,” Mr Franks said.

“If we take the reported 14 arrests, this represents less than 2 hundredths of one percent of the 80,000 that marched, hardly a full scale riot.”

But Mr Huddleston hit back at the claims by suggesting the Green Party representative was acting as an ‘apologist’ for the actions of the protesters.

“I would have been happy to engage in conversation with protesters- as I normally do outside party conference. But the ones I came across didn’t want to engage. They wanted to shout abuse,” Mr Huddleston said.

“It is difficult to talk to someone who is wearing a mask, shouting at you and spitting at you.

“I think the many videos of the ‘demonstrations’ outside the conference say it all and I am surprised that Neil Franks is acting as an apologist for disgusting behaviour.

“I hope he is not suggesting these people are in anyway role models, there’s a way to get your point across, they singularly failed.”

Neil Franks also berated the Tory MP for failing to ignore the reasons why the protesters were there.

“Nigel Huddleston has gone out of his way to tarnish the event and has paid no attention to the reasons why 80,000 individuals gave up their time with their families to peacefully protest about, many of these issues affecting the constituents that he is representing,” Mr Franks added.

Mr Huddleston responded and said: “I did manage to speak to a couple of people who were properly engaging in conference attendees in meaningful conversations about climate change and prison reform who were stood a little further away from the main protesters.

“They were fair and reasonable people who conducted themselves in a calm and respectable manner and were able to get their points across well.

“Unfortunately, they were the minority,” he added.