Hounded by far-right protesters
The footage is really quite shocking. A group of angry shouty people, with not much going on between the ears, crowd around a woman on her way to work while the police stand idly by. That was the scene on Monday as Tory MP Anna Soubry walked to Parliament. She was barracked by pro-Brexit protesters some of whom have links to far-right groups including James Goddard, a supporter of Tommy Robinson. Sounding about as eloquent as Donald Trump and lacking the brain cells to form a coherent argument the men resorted to harassment. How brave they are to menace a woman on her own.
Other public figures have also been targeted by Goddard and his ilk including Guardian columnist Owen Jones. Watching the video of him being verbally abused was harrowing. At one point it appeared he was seconds away from a beating.
Intimidation is a tool of the thuggish far-right which is on the rise in the UK. In part this is due to the media and the language some sections of the press have used around Brexit. For example, the Daily Mail regularly portrays remainers as unpatriotic, saboteurs and traitors. TV stations give far-right activists such as Tommy Robinson a platform, which allows them to appear legitimate. But their irrational hatred and aggression are not legitimate political perspectives.
Goddard, in particular, appears to be a particularly vile individual. He wants the UK to leave Europe and thinks any talk of a second referendum is a betrayal. But rather than debate his point of view and try to win people over with reasoning he just screams and rants. He was even caught on camera telling police they are 'fair game' and threatened 'war'. I suspect this was a stunt so he could get arrested and claim to be a martyr for free speech. But as the police appear to be sitting on their hands at the moment there was no danger of that happening.
Regardless of our political opinions, we should all be worried about police inactivity and protestors like Goddard. They spout the same sort of language as the rightwing extremist who murdered Jo Cox in 2016 and therefore have to be dealt with by the full force of the law.