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Friday, July 22, 2016

Time to stop the intimidation

To be honest I don't care who is responsible for the abuse and intimidation on social media and elsewhere over the attempted coup by Labour MPs against Jeremy Corbyn. This behaviour has no place in modern British politics.

Like others I have been shocked by the ferocity and nature of the backlash. Today's news that Angela Eagle has stopped holding public surgeries for constituents on police advice after she received abuse and threats because she challenged for the Labour party leadership, goes to the heart of the issue.

Stop and reflect on this for a moment: an elected MP in the UK is being stopped from doing her job because of threats and intimidation. What does that say about 21st Cemtury Britain?

By all means use democratic methods to make your point, but surely there is a place for a difference of opinion between MPs and their constituency party without activists opting for the nuclear option of deselection?

We are living in a representative democracy. You cannot reduce the democratic process to one of command and control. MPs and other elected representatives are not delegates. They need to make up their mind on issues on the basis of information and experience that may not be available to others.

And we have to respect that they are trying as hard as they can to act in the best interests of their constituents. We accept it, because it is true.

The murder of Jo Cox shocked everybody. But many have not learnt the lesson that no matter how harmless the abuse appears to be, somebody will pick up on it and take it further.

We cannot exercise our democratic rights through the prism of a police cordon surrounding our elected representatives. This is not just about their safety, it is about the future of our democracy. It is time to stop the intimidation.
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