Trolling and online abuse has been on the rise over the past 2 years, particularly for female MPs of all parties, and I have been no exception to this. As more and more politicians see Twitter and Facebook as being a new way to connect with voters, so the keyboard warriors have taken the opportunity to post negative, misleading and often offensive comments safe behind their twitter handle and anonymous profiles.
When I was an MP, I was prepared to face criticism of my political beliefs and work, and I developed a thick skin to brush off the repeated derogatory remarks about my appearance and intelligence, but the last 10 months or so has seen this trend spill over to include members of my family and friends, with threats being made both directly and indirectly, and some posts seeming to incite hatred and violence. The knock-on effect of this behaviour is people think its ok to act on this misinformation which has, in the past, led to people shouting abuse in the street and people prowling around my house and garden. You would have thought not getting re-elected would have put a stop to all this, sadly no.
Since the tragic death of MP Jo Cox, the police services have begun to take this issue more seriously, and all instances of hate speech are reported and monitored. However, the situation is not aided when the right-wing media, both nationally and locally, start normalising the abuse of public figures by publishing a near constant stream of smear stories, insinuations, snide remarks and personal comments. It’s time to out the abuse and trolling and highlight who really benefited from all the innuendo and half-truths at my expense – the British Nationalists – those who would do whatever it takes to keep the union intact.
In no other workplace would this level of abuse and intrusiveness be tolerated. Whilst public figures should have to be accountable this should not extend to character assassination by people and organisations telling down right lies about you to create mistrust to help their pursuit of their own agenda, political or otherwise.
At no point during the campaign in 2015 and 2017 did I use personal slurs, vilify or insult the other candidates. Sadly, this cannot be said of the other campaign/candidates and some local media in both elections. In my opinion campaigns should be about your reason for standing, your and your party’s policies if the public genuinely want politicians to change then they need to stop buying into the grubby, dirty campaigning of days gone by. It seems to me that politicians, particularly those elected after 2015 are the victims of the way MPs behaved in the past – mainly expenses scandals – lots changed in 2015 when IPSA [The Independent Parliament Standards Authority] was created to stop all the misuse of expenses that had happened previously. And quite rightly so! No more money for food, thousands of pounds for a new suite or flipping your house. If only the past Tories, Labour, Lib Dems et al pre 2015 had been subjected to the same scrutiny the SNP are nowadays!
I feel sorry for those who were duped into believing the things that were written about me – remember the old divide and conquer – as long as we are fighting with ourselves our eye is off the ball. Make no mistake this kind of systematic, planned attack sets out to do just that with the one sole purpose of stopping anyone that is a threat to the breakup of the union.
Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.
The tweets below are just a small sample of what I endured on a daily basis. Some of it is utterly disgusting and in my opinion there is no place for this kind of thing in modern politics. Time for zero tolerance !