Dartford council to be first to debate "compassion code"

Cllr Kelly Grehan has put the motion to Dartford Council

18th October 2019

Dartford Council will be the first in the country to debate a new "compassion code" aimed at creating a more cooperative, inclusive, and respectful style of politics at a local level. 

The motion is being put forward by Councillor Kelly Grehan in response to the increasingly toxic, divisive, and hostile style of debate being witnessed both in parliament and in council chambers. Kelly argues that councils can take the lead in changing the tone of politics and build a political system at the local level which is responsive and empathetic to the needs of the public. 

Compassion in Politics and Cllr Grehan are now working with councillors across the country to have similar motions adopted nationwide. 

The full text of the motion reads:

This council acknowledges 

 

  • Compassion has the power to change politics for good. Yet compassion is being edged out of the political debate. Debate has become increasingly divisive and disrespectful. 

 

  • Healthy, respectful debate plays an important part in the democratic process and is essential for democracy to thrive.

 

  • That no matter how passionately a person may feel on a subject matter there is never an excuse for an argument or to get personal, abusive or aggressive. 

 

  • That aggressive behaviour, name calling and ridiculing of other members make it difficult for some people to engage with debate or join in the political process.

 

  • That we will never have a truly democratic council if the Chamber does not allow people to express their views comfortably without fear of abuse or aggressive reprisal. 

 

  • That all members of Council should be mindful of the protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010 including, but not restricted to, gender, ethnicity, and maternity.

 

This council therefore will 

 

  • Create an environment where all members feel safe, comfortable and able to participate in debates without fear of name calling, ridicule or personal insult.

 

  • Agree to listen to points of view using appropriate and respectful language at all times.

 

  • Agree to only speak through the Chair. 

 

  • Never to use or tolerate heckling or booing. 

 

  • Agree that it is important to and work to create a positive and engaging atmosphere in the Chamber.