LAST week, communities secretary Michael Gove announced that “extremist groups” would no longer be allowed to receive government funding or have meetings with officials. He defined extremism as “the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance”.

Many people are rightly worried that the government could use this rule to close down legitimate debate, or to undermine the right to peaceful protest.

But perhaps the biggest problem with this definition of extremism is that it could be used to describe the Conservative party. Its biggest donor, businessman Frank Hester, is reported to have said that Dianne Abbott, a black woman MP makes him “want to hate all black women”. This is a textbook definition of racism, misogyny and promoting violence, and yet the Conservative party seems unwilling to distance themselves from Mr Hester or hand back the donations which he has reportedly given.

By a remarkable coincidence, the government changed the law last year to allow political parties to spend £15-million more in this year’s election.

This extra cash will enable the Conservatives to pay for more leaflets to be printed and delivered by Royal Mail, as well as for more adverts to be posted on social media.

One has to ask: “What do these donors expect in return?” And this is not just a problem for party HQ; the South East Cornwall Conservative party has received thousands of pounds privately. Why are these donors trying to influence elections in South East Cornwall?! 

Meanwhile Labour has its own problems, both with prejudice and hateful language. Dianne Abbott was suspended from the party after claiming that antisemitism wasn’t as serious as anti-black racism.

Ms Abbott’s return to the Labour Party is supported by its deputy leader Angela Rayner, who famously described Conservatives as “a bunch of scum”.

The problem with Labour and the Conservatives is that they both describe the world as “us vs them” where each seeks to label the other as the source of all the world’s problems. It’s inevitable that this will encourage others to use the same intolerant and divisive language. A few days ago, anti-semitic graffiti appeared in several places around the Lostwithiel; a sight which I never expected to see in my town.

Liberalism is the opposite of racism. Liberalism treats every individual with equal respect and dignity, and seeks understanding and compromise. So, if you think that MPs from the parties you oppose are “scum” or “make you hate all black women”, give your money to Labour or the Conservatives. But if you want an end to “Punch and Judy Politics”, consider making a donation to the Liberal Democrats by visiting

Colin Martin, Cornwall councillor for Lostwithiel, Lanreath, Luxulyan, Lanlivery, St Winnow, St Veep, Braddock and Boconnoc