No one should fear for their safety when they turn up to work
As we see the end of another Halloween, did you have a spooky evening? Did you walk the streets with mini ghouls and ghosts knocking on strangers’ doors for sweets and treats – or did you close the curtains, turn your porch light off and hunker down for the evening?
Halloween is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it!
But while the kids might have been having fun on All Hallows Eve, there’s been some seriously ghoulish behaviour taking place at Westminster…
I’m not talking about the rights and wrongs of Brexit, nor the political posturing, shenanigans and maneuverings that are taking place, but the shocking revelations that female MP’s are facing a tsunami of hate mail and messages.
It’s so bad that female MP’s are being warned by the police not to campaign at night, not to make themselves available to their constituents in case they are open to attack.
How can we be seeing this in 2019, in the UK? It really beggars belief.
And it’s not only death threats and assaults against themselves, but threats against their families, their children. No wonder some MP’s are choosing to stand down, to choose their safety and that of their families.
You might not be a fan of their politics or even themselves as human beings, but no one deserves to work under fear, no one should be wondering whether they should turn up at work or stand back in case they are physically attacked.
No one should open their emails and have to wade through a barrage of vile messages, I’ve heard one woman MP had over 1000 sick messages in less than a week!
Diane Abbott receives copious amounts of hate mail and emails because she’s female and black. I’m not a fan, but never in a million years would I consider sending any kind of message that attacks someone personally, viciously, threatening bodily harm ranging from assault to rape to death.
I believe there are several things that have shifted in our society that is feeding this current climate of hate:
1) The anonymity of typing out a message and pressing send, it feels removed and impersonal, even more so than writing a letter and having to post it. It’s quick, easy and maybe (and I’m not defending anyone here!) it doesn’t feel ‘solid’, like it’s not a real thing, just a throw-away remark.
2) The rhetoric in the media, in the news, in Parliament itself – the idea that Brexit is a racist choice, the messages that have gained traction, the sound bites around ‘regaining our sovereignty’, ‘taking back control’, etc. It feeds into the national psyche and takes hold of our language.
3) The boorish behaviour we see on a daily basis coming out of the Commons, people shouting each other down, disparaging language, dismissive gestures – from the PM himself as he mutters ‘humbug’ to suggestions of intimidation. If that’s what’s happening at the, errrr, ‘top end’ of our society no wonder it’s filtering down. It’s giving people who are already inclined towards this kind of mindset permission to vocalise it.
4) Is life mimicking art or the other way round? As we live in an increasingly virtual world with online shopping, gaming, communication, etc maybe it’s all not real, maybe in the eyes of the originators the threats are no more damaging than being killed on a computer game and popping up again, maybe their view of the real world is distorted by their own filters, their moral compass has been so skewed that they no longer understand the difference between thought and action.
5) It’s my right! We are living in an increasingly selfish and self-absorbed society, where people walk around with their heads buried in their phones, their ears covered by headphones, removed from the real life that is happening in front of them. Celebrity for the sake of it is celebrated over talent – and that includes notoriety. What a thrill these people must get when they hear the news that Nicky Morgan, Louise Ellman, Amber Rudd, Heidi Allen are all stepping down because of their relentless abuse!
I’m sure there are more reasons…
It just feels like a very sad time we’re living in at the moment, keeping positive in knowing it will pass is hard but so necessary.
I wish those female MP’s who have taken what must be an incredibly hard decision to stand down all the best. They have every right to protect themselves and their families, not only from a very real threat of assault but also from the psychological abuse they face whenever they open another poisonous email or see yet another death threat.
And thank you to all those female MP’s who continue to take the abuse, to read those messages and still stand up for what they believe in. Whatever their political view, whatever their party, they deserve our support – not only from fellow females but from every rational, normal, reasonable, decent, intelligent, dignified human being.
If you have been affected by abuse, whether verbal, physical or implied and would like help, do get in touch. I work with a network of highly trained psychotherapists and hypnotherapists, you can live without fear affecting your every day.