Statement Re: Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen’s Involvement With Blackridge Strategy Smear Campaign
Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen is responsible for his total campaign team, just as any candidate is responsible for the actions of their campaign team including volunteers. Women & Politics is calling on Councillor Van Meerbergen to take responsibility for the actions of his campaign volunteer who financed the smear campaign against Virginia Ridley.
While we can’t accurately determine the impact the smear campaign had on constituents and their votes, it is absolutely a deterrent to women who are considering running for office in the future. It is widely known women experience more personal gendered attacks than men and they are held to different standards and their family is often impacted by these types of attacks.
Women & Politics condemns this type of election behaviour and calls for more civil campaign cycles moving forward. Councillor Van Meerbergen’s actions moving forward, based on the information we know today, can set the bar for what is and what is not acceptable campaign behaviour in London.
If Councillor Van Meerbergen, at any point, was aware or made aware of his campaign team members’ behaviour during the campaign, or was dishonest about his connections to the website, Women & Politics requests that in addition to taking responsibility for his campaign team he steps down from his role as councillor immediately.
Women & Politics London