Kirsty Williams talks about why she left front line politics

In an interview with ITV News Kirsty Williams, Lib Dem Senedd Member since 1999 and former Welsh Education Minister, reveals the reasons why she stood down this May.

We can’t embed the clip but you can view it here. She says:

I think for me it became increasingly more and more difficult to protect my family, not from the threats of violence that we’re talking about but the general level of abuse.

When my children were small they weren’t on social media, they didn’t have access to those things, but now it’s pretty difficult to keep them away from that. So trying to protect my family – or failing to succeed in protecting my family from some of the fallout from having a mother in political life was definitely a factor in me standing down.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Nigel Hunter 1st Jul '21 - 6:02pm

    I wish her all well in the future.I do hope that she stays to influence the party in Wales and stays active .

  • lynne featherstone 1st Jul '21 - 6:38pm

    I know exactly what you mean Kirsty. And it is sad that you and I and other particularly women in politics have to go through this. You have contributed enormously to your nation and to us LibDems. Thank you so so much

  • Rosie Sharpley 2nd Jul '21 - 10:57am

    Thank you Mary. I have just read again and reflected on Kirstys last speech which you kindly posted for us at the time. I feel so proud of her achievements as someone who bore the brunt of a threat some thirty years ago “I know where to find your brats” strikes like a dagger to the heart of any mother……..nay any parent. Such reflections though should make us more determined to uphold courage and ensure that those who serve us are valued and secure. I do so hope we hear more from Kirsty in the not too distant future.

  • mark jacobs 2nd Jul '21 - 11:04am

    This issue, threats of violence and abuse, is not gender specific and also affects men in politics too. It may also affect people entering politics who self identify or are non binary though whether such incidents have been documented is another matter. So please let’s see it as a wider issue of psychological bullying and not use it to demonise one gender. The verbal abuse aimed at Chris Witty in public bears testimony to this.

  • Even if this is only a part reason, NOT acceptable that we can lose a talented person due to this type of pressure. More MUST be done.

  • Tumi Hawkins 2nd Jul '21 - 12:09pm

    Firstly thank you to Kirsty for her service to the UK in general and to the LibDems in particular. Secondly, it can’t have been an easy decision to make after 22 years in front line politics, but as I keep being told, family comes first. Thirdly, I get the issue of the abuse, and is why I don’t aspire to go further than local politics and have refused each an every time when asked to put myself forward as a prospective candidate. Whilst I agree that all MPs get some level of abuse as Mark Jacobs stated, and more is the pity, the level of misogynistic abuse levelled at women is just way out of order. Abuse like this puts off many good and qualified women who would otherwise stand, and our country and politics is the poorer for it. Good luck for the future Kirsty. Thanks once again for your service.

  • Ruth Bright 2nd Jul '21 - 1:36pm

    Kirsty was an inspiration to the “jugglers” of my generation who tried to combine life with a very young family with politics; in her case at the very highest level. She was a pioneer and probably does not realise just how much her example meant to many of us.

    Saddest of all (bearing in mind all the nastiness from outside the party) is the sheer relentless thoughtlessness of one’s own side. Having poured my chubby post-caesarean body into the most gripping “shapewear” M and S can offer I dragged my sickly self, a newborn and a toddler to conference only to be mocked for breastfeeding by a leading light of Gender Balance Taskforce!! This kind of stuff was far far more disheartening than the unhinged things (FOCUS sent back to me with my face scored out or 666 written on it etc etc).

  • Adrian Collett 3rd Jul '21 - 11:49am

    Thank you Kirsty for all you have done over the years for Liberalism, and for putting out that message explaining why you feel you have to stand down. That is indeed a tragedy.

    I don’t know how we maintain the principle of free speech whilst doing something about the vile things that are often said on social media, but this is an issue that we need to give serious thought to. Mill’s harm principle is at issue here.

    One thing which has often struck me is that such postings are often made by people whose “name” says nothing of any value to tell us who they really are. It might just be a first name that they use, or a made-up name. In effect, they are posting anonymously, and can say whatever they like without accountability. Surely it is time this was addressed.

    Freedom of speech should include the ability to have your arguments challenged, particularly when they have harmful outcomes…

  • Peter Hirst 4th Jul '21 - 2:24pm

    That’s very sad. Perhaps she will view things differently in a few years time. Being in front line politics obviously poses risks and challenges that perhaps are underestimated. Threats and actions against those elected to public office should be added to the list of aggravated offences and receive a more severe punishment.

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