Let’s take back our senses...

Sunday Sun - - News -

N the dig­i­tal age, new types of jobs are be­ing cre­ated all the time. There’s Vir­tual Re­al­ity De­vel­op­ers, SEO/SEM Spe­cial­ists, UX De­sign­ers and AI Spe­cial­ists. To add to the list there’s the Brexit Street Abuser, and it’s a growth in­dus­try.

It in­volves tar­get­ing a politi­cian or well­known pun­dit while they walk down the road, hop around and ha­rass them like Michael Palin in the Life of Brian’s ‘Alms for the Leper’ scene whilst grunt­ing threat­en­ingly and do­ing a selfie-style film of it.

It’s largely hard right Brexit bun­ga­lows (not much up­stairs) who do it, al­though there have been in­stances of pro-eu ac­tivists hav­ing a go too.

There’s money to be made by film­ing these in­ci­dents and post­ing it on so­cial me­dia with a Paypal link for the like-minded to fund them, al­though the more rea­son­able might be tempted to tell them to go fund your­self.

How much cash they make is de­pen­dent on their per­sonal reach on so­cial me­dia, and with the amount of ‘noise’ out there, the louder and more out­ra­geous they are, the more clicks they get.

The own­ers of the so­cial me­dia plat­forms used are caught in a bit of a cleft stick. The mar­ket is an evolv­ing and very com­pet­i­tive en­tity, so if they choose to close some­one down there’s al­ways an­other plat­form will­ing to take the busi­ness. And they would face ac­cu­sa­tions of cen­sor­ship and be­ing anti-free speech.

Tommy Robin­son is the best known ex­po­nent of it and has done very nicely, so much so that the Mini-mes are pil­ing in.

Last week a new fig­ure – for me at least – emerged, do­ing his Alms for the Leper act first around left-wing pun­dit Owen Jones and then pro-sec­ond ref­er­en­dum Tory MP Anna Soubry.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, a bunch of bun­ga­lows chanted ‘Soubry is a Nazi’ whilst she was be­ing in­ter­viewed on the BBC.

Eye-open­ing was the re­sponse of some in the me­dia. One com­men­ta­tor said that such in­tim­i­da­tion was un­ac­cept­able BUT in the case of Soubry ‘this is what hap­pens when you say you’ll abide by the ref­er­en­dum then sub­se­quently fight for a sec­ond one.’

Ap­ply­ing the dic­tum that ev­ery­thing said be­fore the word BUT is not meant, you could be for­given for think­ing that what he was in fact im­ply­ing was she had asked for it.

Some may agree (not me) that it comes with the ter­ri­tory and point to the fact no-one seemed fussed when Nigel Farage gets some grief. But the fre­quency of re­cent events and their un­der­tones of vi­o­lence make it feel like a pot that was pre­vi­ously sim­mer­ing is now threat­en­ing to boil over.

The fu­ri­ous state of the na­tion was cap­tured in the best scene of the ‘Brexit: The Un­civil War’ drama last week, when the fo­cus group used as a barom­e­ter of pub­lic feel­ings on the is­sue ended up bit­terly di­vided, in tears of anger and frus­tra­tion, and close to blows.

Brexit was sup­posed to be about tak­ing back con­trol. Tak­ing back con­trol of our senses would be a start.

■ Con­ser­va­tive MP Anna Soubry

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