THE Conservatives have “allowed discrimination, bullying, and unethical practices to fester” within the party, one of the party’s own former MPs has said.

Jo Gideon, who represented Stoke-on-Trent Central for the Conservatives before the Westminster parliament was dissolved for the General Election, issued a damning statement attacking her own party on Friday afternoon.

Gideon said she had decided not to run for re-election due to “persistent bullying” from within the Tory Party – claiming there was a “toxic culture” both locally and at Westminster.

In an 800-word statement posted to social media, Gideon wrote: “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.

“In reality, I faced persistent bullying from the local Conservative Federation officers since 2019, which took a toll on my physical and mental health. I chose to stand down with dignity rather than face an unjust and well-rumoured deselection process.

“At the time, I did not publicly expose what I was being subjected to out of loyalty to the party and a belief that the issue would be addressed internally. However, despite central office and the whips being made aware, no meaningful action was taken. Today, I feel compelled to set the record straight and expose the unethical practices that have become pervasive within the party.

“Politics should be about serving the public, not a ruthless game of who can climb the greasy pole the fastest. Professionalism, integrity, and ethics should be at the core of our political system.”

She went on: “It is often said that you can judge a person by how they treat those who serve them. 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 …

“It has become glaringly apparent that rules are applied and disapplied at a whim to benefit a chosen few.

“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.”

She added: “If the Conservative Party finds itself in opposition, I hope they will use the opportunity to take a long, hard look at how they have allowed discrimination, bullying, and unethical practices to fester.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson 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. 

“We have a wide range of candidates standing at this election from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life.”