Courtesy, facts and patience required

Date: Tuesday 4th July 2017

Sir, I am grateful for Mr. Shearer’s kind comments (Herald, 24th June) about his personal meetings with me. But I’m afraid that I disagree about abuse and vandalism in elections. I believe we need more, not less, courtesy, facts and patience in our politics.

Britain is an unbelievably complex society — and there are no easy answers to the challenges of our public finances or to our changing population. We need to be able to talk honestly, intelligently and calmly about these difficulties, and help the public to understand and support some very difficult choices.

Tearing down and destroying posters, shouting down speakers in hustings, promoting deeply misleading comments on Facebook and Twitter, and treating opponents with moralistic insults were all characteristics of the Brexit referendum and the US elections.

I was deeply saddened to see them enter Cumbrian politics. Such tactics shut down reasonable discussion and stifle the difficult business of priorities and choices. They will end by driving reasonable people out of politics.

Mr. Shearer disagrees with my policies and does not vote for me, but I hope we can return to the calm discussions we have had in the past.

And that we will be able to make the next election in Cumbria a fair discussion of ideas, of priorities and choices, determined by informed votes. “We have more in common than divides us.” Yours etc,

RORY STEWART

(MP for Penrith and the Border)

www.rorystewart.co.uk