Today Theresa May declared the launch of an independent inquiry into the levels of vitriolic abuse MPs are facing. After running the most distasteful campaign in modern history, perhaps she need not look further than the mirror?
The need for an inquiry comes after a brutal snap general election, which saw the Conservative party receive approximately £17,000/hour, to fund attack adverts on their opponents. The majority of which were aimed at Jeremy Corbyn, often in attempt to link him to terrorist groups:
Attack ads of this sort, whilst out of context, are used all over the World to discredit opposition leaders. In the most recent election the Conservatives spent more than £1 million attacking Jeremy Corbyn over social media alone. However we can be sure the Tories won’t be changing their campaigning tactics, which often directly contributes to the abuse Labour MPs face.
The most toxic abuse this election however, was the personal abuse MPs faced. Death threats, rape threats, and racial slurs were rampant over social media.
Abuse suffered by MPs in this election reached a pinnacle when aimed at the Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister Diane Abbott. After a short string of failures to remember specific numbers on policy costing, Diane Abbott came under intense abuse, from social media, and mainstream media alike.
She came under fire in Tory attack ads such as the one below, which attacked her credibility. Her name would constantly appear in interviews by Conservative MPs, attack adverts that misrepresented her words, and outright lies regarding the DNA database.
Abbott was also attacked by media commentators who were keen to jump on the Abbott bashing bandwagon. Even Theresa May decided to join in, making Abbott-bashing a recurring theme of her late campaign speeches. Perhaps in a desperate attempt to reverse her polling misfortunes.
But the majority vile abuse came from social media and alt-right websites such as Guido Fawkes. We have to ask ourselves, did constantly abuse by mainstream media & politicians open the flood gates to this? In an attempt to report the ‘story’ in more, and more, dramatic ways, did it encourage online trolls?
If Theresa May was serious about tackling the personal abuse MPs face, she should look to her own campaign tactics, and those of the media rags that back her. Theresa take a stand right now against abuse, by permanently expelling the Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris for her racist behaviour just this week.