Ex-Tory MP not standing due to 'party bullying'

A former Tory MP has said she is not seeking re-election after facing "persistent bullying" from local Conservative Federation officers.

Jo Gideon, who was MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central from 2019-2024, said she had been subject to bullying since 2019, which took a toll on her health.

She also claimed MPs faced deselection, intimidation, and a dismissive attitude when raising serious complaints related to discrimination.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "We thank Jo Gideon for the fantastic work she did as the MP for Stoke Central and wish her well for the future.

"Throughout the four years Jo has been an MP she has brought in millions in investment and been a proud champion of her constituents in Westminster."

'Unethical practices'

In a statement published on Friday, Ms Gideon said she chose to stand down with dignity rather than face "an unjust and well rumoured deselection process".

The former MP said: "When I announced last year that I was not seeking re-election in Stoke Central, journalists speculated that I had been promised a safe seat elsewhere and was on a chicken run.

"Nothing could have been further from the truth."

Ms Gideon said she did not initially publicly expose the issue out of loyalty to the party and a belief that it would be addressed internally, but she claimed no meaningful action had been taken.

Ms Gideon said: "Today, I feel compelled to set the record straight and expose the unethical practices that have become pervasive within the party.

"The backbone of any political party is its activists, local association members, and councillors.

"I have been deeply dismayed by the way the Conservative Party has mistreated and disregarded these dedicated individuals.

'Toxic culture'

The former MP said: "These actions stand in stark contrast to the principles of equality and fairness we championed when we were the party in government that passed the Equality Act."

Ms Gideon said it had become "glaringly apparent" that rules were applied and disapplied "at a whim to benefit a chosen few".

"Sadly, my political journey has been overshadowed by a persistent lack of support and a toxic culture from the party, both at Westminster and locally," she said.

She went on to add: "By populating our more winnable seats with ever more political careerist candidates who have little experience outside the Westminster bubble, with fewer women, less diversity in age, social background and professional experience, we are creating a democratic deficit which will dictate the quality of our politics for years to come."

In response to this, a Conservative Party spokesman said: "We have a wide range of candidates standing at this election from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life."

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