Anna Soubry abuse reflects the deplorable state of politics today
That a bunch of angry men should think it acceptable to intimidate and abuse Anna Soubry because they disagree with her stance on Brexit is a lamentable reflection of the state of our political discourse, which has been continuously degraded during the past two years (MPs raise fears with police after abuse of Soubry, 8 January).
Those individuals (and we all know who they are) who stirred up division and antagonism during and after the referendum for their own political ends bear enormous responsibility for giving licence to extremists to behave in an aggressive and often criminal manner. It is time public figures and sections of the media stopped using derogatory and inflammatory vocabulary to describe those who hold a different view.
It is also reprehensible that Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, should suggest that this incident underlines the case for accepting Theresa May’s deal, as if this were a panacea for healing the rift brought about by the policies of his own government.
What are the Metropolitan police up to? Some years ago I was arrested and charged with “insulting and abusive behaviour liable to cause a breach of the peace” (section 5 of the Public Order Act) for protesting about nuclear missiles by lying down in silence in Parliament Square. Thankfully, the magistrate threw it out of court, making it clear that silent, still protest cannot be construed as insulting or abusive.
Today, in that same square police allow the hounding of people and
the shouting of abuse, including openly racist abuse, even at the police. Isn’t this what the act is for?
It seems extraordinary that people who declaim others as Nazi and act in a harassing manner are themselves aping the tactics of the Brownshirts, members of the SA in prewar Germany.
Nothing reveals more the surreal and facile nature of our times than a bunch of rightwing racist yahoos using the word Nazi as an insult.
I was setting my TV to record Brexit: The Uncivil War when a recommendation popped up for another Channel 4 programme, Catastrophe. Who knew digital recorders had a sense of humour?