Blind transgender candidate ‘harassed by Lib Dems’ at Nick Clegg protest

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Liberal Democrat activists have been urged to apologise – after attempting to block a blind, transgender Labour candidate from their leader during a protest.

Protesters against the government gathered outside St Helier Hospital today, as the Deputy Prime Minister was set to visit the key Liberal Democrat seat of Sutton and Cheam.

However, when Mr Clegg arrived, party activists who had been handed ready-made placards moved to obscure the protesters from view, including Labour Parliamentary candidate Emily Brothers.

Ms Brothers – who came out as transgender in an interview PinkNews last year and is Labour’s candidate for the seat – told PinkNews: “I was helped up a hill, and when Nick Clegg arrived there was the usual cheering – but the Liberal Democrats were holding up placards in front of us. There was one woman particularly waving it in my face.

“She was asked to refrain from waving the placard in my face and she wouldn’t. My assistant was worried I would be pushed backwards down the hill.”

She added: “For me, it was disorientating and I didn’t really know what was going on.

“It was only when somebody else intervened that she stood back. It was an unpleasant incident, but I shall continue.

“There was clearly a tactic. It says a lot for their reputation on civil liberties it has to say.”

She added in a statement: “It is difficult enough getting around without sight and poor hearing without that kind of nonsense.

“Lib Dem members and supporters may try to block and push me, but I’m not going to let them cover up their broken promises.”

Local Liberal Democrat councillor Nick Mattey has condemned the behaviour of his party’s supporters at the event.

In a message to all local councillors, he wrote: “I think that the person who took it upon themselves to push a Lib Dem poster in the face of a blind person needs to be identified and made to make a formal apology to Ms Brothers.

“Behaviour of this kind towards a person who cannot defend herself is grotesque.

“Trying to stage manage an event where posters and delivered and handed out prior to the arrival of a leader is more akin to National Socialism than Liberal Democrats.

“As a Liberal Democrat I feel deeply ashamed of a party that is meant to help the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

“I will be going to visit her personally to apologise for this treatment and I hope that this shameful behaviour is never repeated.”

Ed Miliband has previously hailed Ms Brothers’ groundbreaking candidacy, writing: “So proud to have Emily Brothers as a Labour candidate. She is an important voice in our movement.”