COMMENT: Why Mansfield shouldn’t be tagged the most bigoted town in Britain?

Mansfield Market Place.
Mansfield Market Place.

I have to say that when Labour’s ownership of Mansfield’s parliamentary seat came to an end in June I wasn’t particularly surprised.

Aside from the apathetic campaign from the former MP Sir Alan Meale, Theresa May made it quite clear that the Tories were hoping to exploit the strong Brexit feeling in the town.

In a nutshell, and these are my words, not hers – the locals disliked foreigners, which makes them small-minded and bigoted.

During the Brexit referendum they only saw the immigration argument and we can take the seat as long as we just keep saying Brexit, Brexit, Brexit.

They won’t notice we’re planning to steal their inheritance as long as their minds are focused on getting rid of the foreigners.

In reality only one-in-three residents who voted opted to remain in the European Union – and opted for keeping the free movement of people.

But while Ben Bradley’s eventual victory in Mansfield remains a surprise win for the Conservatives, it appears to have done the reputation of its residents no good at all.

Now, other people are accusing the town’s residents of being bigots as well.

Earlier this week, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that he was calling on Theresa May to give her MPs a free vote in legislation aimed at improving the rights and lives of transgender people.

Fair enough, you may think . . . or not.

Because in response Professor Steven Fielding from the politics department at the University of Nottingham replied: “That’ll win back Mansfield” - inferring the opposite, of course.

The suggestion here, I would argue, is that the people of Mansfield dislike transgender people as much as they dislike foreigners.

I’ve worked in Mansfield for half a decade and in that time I’ve had dealings with my fair share of bigoted idiots.

But I’d say that overall, the people from Mansfield who I’ve met and who I know tend to be forthright, but also caring, compassionate and liberal minded.

What is most worrying is that from one slender election victory and a decisive feeling about Brexit, Mansfield could pick up the tag as the most bigoted town in Britain.

I don’t know.

What do you think?