Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Threatening the opposition

Way back when I began teaching comparative government and politics, I clipped an article for my students about Diane Abbot's first electoral victory. After all, she was the first female Black MP. It seemed a sign of change. Now, Abbott is a senior member of the Labour shadow cabinet and is considered newsworthy because she's being threatened. Is that a sign of change?

Diane Abbott on abuse of MPs: 'My staff try not to let me go out alone'
Diane Abbott has revealed her staff try not to let her walk around her Hackney constituency alone after the murder of fellow Labour MP Jo Cox…

The shadow home secretary, who in 1987 became the first black woman to be elected as an MP, said she had been personally affected by the scale of abuse she has suffered, which reached a peak in recent weeks during a furore over which way she would vote on the government’s Brexit bill.

“When Jo Cox died… " she told the Guardian’s political editor Anushka Asthana, presenting on LBC. “I try not to walk around on my own any more. I don’t drive, I used to drive around Hackney on my own and I don’t do that any more and I’m getting new alarms and security on my house. It’s just a horrible atmosphere out there particularly if you are a woman MP and particularly if you’re a black MP.”…

Online abuse had become “turbo-charged”, Abbott said. “It’s it’s almost as if they want to drive some of us out of politics.

“Now you can press a button and threaten to rape someone. The more some of these guys see this stuff online, they more they become encouraged and emboldened.” …

Yvette Cooper, the former shadow home secretary, has said online harassment and abuse is “stifling debate and ruining lives”, while Maria Miller, the Tory former cabinet minister who now chairs parliament’s women and equality committee, has also called for action…

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