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‘Enough is Enough’: Fife Councillor Mocked in Council Chamber

Liberal Democrat Aude Boubaker-Calder has accused fellow councillors of mocking her during debates in the council chamber.

Cllr. Boubaker-Calder, from Belgium, said all Fife Council staff and elected members should be able to express opinions without fear of harassment. “I’ve been verbally abused, questioned about my motherhood, my age, my capacity, and my origin. All because I’m a woman born in another country and a young woman in politics.”

“I consider myself a survivor of this behaviour”, she said, explaining that, “I have been mocked for my speeches — in my delivery and my accent in this chamber.” Cllr. Boubaker-Calder expanded on this, stating that she has been spoken to disrespectfully by individuals not only during council debates, but out with the Council.

“I’m a strong and vocal woman, holding to my values and speaking loudly about the needs and expectations of my constituents.”

“Well, that’s upsetting to those who are just there for the power, not the people.”

Following the discrimination, Cllr. Boubaker-Calder called for a motion for Fife Council to promote a culture of respect and accountability. The motion, which passed unanimously, mentioned a “toxic culture” within the chamber which “discourages women, as well as individuals from other marginalised groups, from participating in local government.”

The motion was seconded by Labour’s Jan Wincott, who said, “Members of the public watching on the live stream may not hear exactly what’s said in this chamber at times because the microphones don’t always pick it up.” She added, “If they could hear, I don’t think they would be impressed.”

The motion was also backed by SNP councillor Sarah Neal, as well as Conservative Group leader Kathleen Leslie. Both, however, emphasised that they feel comfortable in the chamber, and expressed a desire to continue with political debate.

Ms Leslie said, “We all need to be mindful of how we speak to each other.”

“I would certainly not ever want to see robust debate, provided it’s not personal, being stifled. That’s the beauty of democracy. We should be calling each other out, we should be debating, and we should be doing that regularly.”

Image by Peter Gordon

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