Harpenden Tory candidate accused of blatant electioneering after school visit
PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 November 2019
Harpenden's Conservative Parliamentary candidate has been condemned for tarnishing a school visit with political electioneering.
Former MP Bim Afolami, who will be standing again in December's General Election, visited St George's School in the town as part of their Eco Week event.
But he subsequently tweeted: "We spoke about #ClimateChange and they quizzed me about the positive changes a Conservative Government would continue to make if re-elected. #GeneralElection2019 #VoteConservative2019."
Local resident Carol Hedges, who has previously worked at the school and whose grown-up daughter was once a pupil there, said she believed St George's has inadvertently allowed pupils to be used as political propaganda.
"The hashtags used by Afolami here are quite blatant electioneering. Had my daughter still been at the school, this is something I would have been prepared to take up with the governors.
"It is not right for pupils who are not able to vote in an election to be used as material to further Mr Afolami's career or to suggest that they agree with the views held by the Conservatives.
"I am sure many parents who do not and would not vote Conservative, and are, like me, pretty appalled at the attitude to climate change expressed by them, would not be happy about the way he has, in my opinion, used the privilege of visiting the school, to advertise his own political party and the upcoming election."
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Carol's comments were echoed by other people on Twitter.
Bernard4Britain posted: "I find it disgusting that you have abused your position to campaign for an election using one of our local schools.
"I will be writing to the Head of the school to protest. I hope many parents will do too."
Peter Kneale fumed: "A hat-trick: 1. Suck up to Johnson, supporting Brexit even though your constituents don't; 2. Get a bag-carrier job at Transport so you can go AWOL rather than support Harpenden commuters; 3. Exploit schoolchildren during an election campaign."
'Napoleon Solo' added: "I cannot describe how strongly I object to our school children being used as agents in a Tory election campaign. Quite apart from the "sub-optimal" commitment to climate change by your party, to hashtag "VoteConservative" feels exploitative."
Bim Afolami responded to the accusations: "I was pleased to be invited to St George's School to talk about climate change for their eco week.
"Whilst I was there, I learnt that they are holding their own 'General Election' at the school and I wanted to show my support for their Conservative candidates."
The Herts Advertiser contacted St George's School but they declined to comment on the matter.