A rising SNP (Scottish National Party) star who is quitting politics has blamed “relentless abuse”, harassment and misogyny for her decision to quit frontline politics. It has however been revealed that she was being chased for council tax.
Glasgow City Councillor Rhiannon Spear said her decision was taken not because of the backlash over her unpaid council tax bill first reported by the Daily Record last month, but because of the relentless abuse in public office.
The 31-year-old Spear, who failed in an MSP election bid for Holyrood last year, was being pursued by Glasgow City Council for council tax arrears despite being paid more than £25,000 for her council role, including as chair for its education committee.
Mum-of-one Spear, who is also the SNP’s National Women’s Convener, took to Twitter last week and said the “harassment and misogyny” she had faced online had led to her decision to quit. She said her role “in politics is no more”.
Spear who has suffered repeated abuse online said: “There will be many, many more women like me who will remove themselves from politics in Scotland because of the relentless abuse, harassment and misogyny. Something has to change!
She continued: “Death threats cannot be a routine part of being a woman in politics. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until it changes – politics is not a safe place for women in Scotland.”
Controversy has followed Spear who previously said she and her family had faced threats, after she “joked” about hating the UK online last year. When she tweeted about the UK scoring nil points in the Eurovision song contest saying: “It’s ok Europe, we hate the United Kingdom too. Love, Scotland,” anger online was such that she had to shut her page down temporarily.
A source within political circles said that she has faced legitimate criticism especially after she had used social media to get people to pay their taxes, when hers hadn’t been paid.
Glasgow City Council refused to clarify how much Spear owes, citing data protection rules but angering campaigners who say that the public has a right to know.
Spear will not be the first rising star quitting politics over either the harassment or for failing to maintain public standards of life, but her resignation will hurt the SNP at a time when it can ill afford to lose the ground gained recently.
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