Let’s take back our senses...
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