General election candidate Ruth Smeeth has told how she cannot leave her house alone after being bombarded with death threats.
The Labour parliamentary candidate for Stoke-on-Trent North says her Potteries home and office have been turned into ‘fortresses’ and she is forced to carry a panic button in a bid to keep her safe from a potential attack.
Staffordshire Police are investigating the latest incident which saw a death threat hand-delivered to her constituency office last week.
Now that incident has prompted Ms Smeeth to speak out about the ‘terrifying’ messages she has received.
Ms Smeeth - who has been the Stoke-on-Trent North MP since 2015 - says she has been threatened by the far-left and the far-right and around half the threats have been anti-semitic in nature. The first death threat came when she was chosen as a candidate for the constituency in 2014 - and the situation has snowballed since then.
Up until now, the threats have been made via email or social media but last Thursday’s incident, which saw a piece of Ms Smeeth’s election material doctored and turned into a threat, was the first of its kind.
“Broadly speaking, none of the tangible threats have been from this area before, but I assume the one on Thursday was,” she said. “What made me think is that me and my team just treated it as something normal. The stuff that might have shocked us four years ago is now normal. The stuff that shocks us now is absolutely terrifying.
“The police did a risk assessment and said I was in the top 10 MPs that could be targeted. I think it’s because I’m Jewish, and because I’m a woman. This is all in the shadow of my friend (Labour MP Jo Cox) being murdered. Things seem to have got worse since then."
“Someone wrote an essay on how they wanted to kill me – I wouldn’t be human if that didn’t make me think, ‘What am I doing?’ But then I will go to a community event or a school and I remember how lucky and privileged I am to do this job.