There’s a lot of discussion at the moment about the abuse which has been directed against MPs, particularly during the recent General Election and especially on social media.
Those of us in local government are a less obvious target, my Twitter followers are in the hundreds not the thousands, but it does still happen.
I’ve never had much of a problem ignoring mean things people say about me, frankly anyone can be a big man behind a keyboard and having been directly threatened with violence on a number of occasions while knocking doors it doesn’t really bother me.
Being a fairly big, shaven headed powerlifter with a background in martial arts, I can’t say I’ve felt in fear for my life on these occasions. Trouble is, politics shouldn’t be limited to people who look like me and it is wrong that that our discourse is being reduced to simply the question of who can take more punishment.
One of my fundamental principles in taking on casework is that I will always treat others with respect but I expect them to treat me as a fellow human being. For many people it appears I lost that status the moment I put on a rosette.
This has to change, politics should be open to everyone and we can attack policies without attacking people. The fact that we are back to this point so soon after the death of Jo Cox shows the toxicity of the way we continue to deal with politics and politicians in the UK, something I suspect we all must take some responsibility for.