Wat­son bat­tles ‘rot­ten’ po­lit­i­cal at­tacks on­line

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

BLACK Coun­try MP Tom Wat­son has launched a cam­paign against bul­ly­ing, in­tol­er­ance and ha­tred on the in­ter­net.

He is ask­ing peo­ple to use the #nospace­forhate hash­tag on Face­book or Twit­ter, when they come across trolling or abuse.

It fol­lows claims that ar­gu­ments about pol­i­tics have be­come in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive and un­pleas­ant.

Mr Wat­son said: “While I’m a fan of Twit­ter and Face­book I have be­come in­creas­ingly dis­ap­pointed at the tone of po­lit­i­cal dis­course on so­cial me­dia.”

He high­lighted re­search by aca­demics at the Univer­sity of Sh­effield which found Twit­ter abuse of politi­cians had soared be­tween the 2015 and 2017 Gen­eral Elec­tions.

Mr Wat­son, Labour’s Deputy Leader and MP for West Bromwich East, said “mind­less trolls on the Far Left” had been at­tack­ing Emily Benn, grand-daugh­ter of Labour left-winger Tony Benn who died in 2014.

Ms Benn was tar­geted after she called on Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn to do more to com­bat an­tisemitism.

Mr Wat­son said: “There is some­thing quite rot­ten in the abu­sive lan­guage and per­sonal at­tacks that now go hand-in-hand with the short form posts, and we have seen some of the worst of it on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal spectrum this past week.”

He said some Con­ser­va­tive MPs such as Anna Soubry and Nicky Mor­gan had also been sub­ject to “hideous, vi­tu­per­a­tive at­tacks from the far right” be­cause they op­posed a “hard” Brexit.

Mr Wat­son said: “I strongly feel we need to pause and re­flect on the qual­ity of our de­bate to­day, turn the dial down on the lan­guage of dis­agree­ment and show more re­spect to those whose views we may not share.”

> Labour’s Tom Wat­son has launched a ‘no space for hate’ cam­paign

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