When you stick your head above the line, someone will take a shot at it.
No matter what role you are in, there will always be people who disagree with you. At various times in life you will come across people who seem determined to put you down in any way they can.
None more so than in politics.
At the very least, each person in politics will have a variety of stories to tell you about personal insults that have been flung at them. Some will have far worse stories to tell of actual physical violence and outright threats to their safety.
It happens to me regularly and it is usually the same old theme of insults. Something along the lines of...
'You are a class traitor'
'You are a Tory therefore you must be from a rich, posh family and you are lying when you say otherwise'
'You claim to be a Christian but there is no way God loves Tories and he will definitely send you to hell'
'Why don't you just do the world a favour and go throw yourself off a bridge'
You are probably reading these in shock and rightly so. If anyone shouted something like this in everyday life, it would not go unnoticed and they would be held accountable.
Yet in politics, it seems to be the norm. It seems to always be overlooked. It is brushed away as just 'part of the game'.
The more we ignore it, the longer it will continue.
Behaviour like this is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. It is something that needs challenging and requires a joint effort from across the political spectrum to crush.
The comments do not actually bother me. Being a Yorkshire lass, I was born with a thick skin and the longer I spend in the public eye, the thicker it gets.
It is less the effect it has on me that worries me and more the effect it has on the public.
Political apathy is a huge problem. There is no denying it.
Speaking with many members of the public, it is clear one of the many reasons for increasing political apathy is the negative attitudes that exist in politics. The personal insults, the snide comments, the underhand tactics. People have had enough of the pathetic name-calling, the obvious contempt and the negativity that comes from all sides.
I truly believe one of the ways we can bring more people back to politics is by being that little bit nicer to each other. By speaking to each other how we would want to be spoken to instead of throwing personal insults around. By engaging in constructive political debate instead of hiding behind harsh put-downs on Social Media. By actually getting to know someone instead of judging them based purely on mistaken stereotypes.
If we are truly serious about dealing with voter apathy and cleaning up politics we need to start by looking inwards.
Earlier this year I ran for election for the first time. I had the real honour of being selected as the Conservative Party Parliamentary Candidate for the Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford Constituency for the 2015 General Election. I was twenty-two at the time, making me one of the youngest Parliamentary candidates in the country.
Shortly after I was selected, I made a promise to myself. I promised that I would only run a positive campaign. That all my leaflets would focus purely on what I would do, rather than what my opponents would not do. That no matter how many times mud was thrown at me, I would never pick it up and throw it back. That no matter how tough it got, I would rise above it.
For me it stems back to the Biblical principle of 'turning the other cheek' but it is clear this is also something the public hunger for.
Every time I speak about my positive campaigning method and my desire to get rid of the constant personal attacks in politics from all sides, I see people get enthusiastic. They long for this. They want this to be the standard across the United Kingdom and across the political spectrum. They do not want any more insults, they want pledges. They do not want any more negativity, they want positivity. They do not want to know what your opponent will not do, they want to know what you will do.
I truly believe that if we tackle this, it could be the start of a revolution of re-engagement in politics.
Of course, it requires more than just our politicians stepping on board. It requires everyone to step up to the mark.
Let us lead by example. Let us be that new generation of politician. Let us clean up our act, wash out our mouths and get on with the job in hand. I will try my best to, but I need you to do the same. So come on, join me.Suggest a correction