Watson battles ‘rotten’ political attacks online
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