The only British politician to have been murdered in recent times was a Labour MP, Jo Cox. Other Parliamentarians from the same party have endured hostility, which is now as likely to come from their left as their right: consider the deselection-mongering of an official Momentum group, exposed on this site last week by Mark Wallace. It had published a list of 49 Labour MPs that the group thought should “join the Liberals”.
None the less, the main target for threats and abuse during the election seems to have been Conservative candidates. Byron Davies, who lost his seat in Gower, received two death threats. Nigel Evans was verbally abused and pushed outside a pub. Sheryll Murray had swastikas scrawled on her posters. Johnny Mercer’s wife was intimidated by a Labour activist.
Politics is a rough old business. But there does seem to be a whiff of unreason in the air, shown most spectacularly by the hard left activists on Twitter who insist, contrary to Parliamentary arithemetic, that Jeremy Corbyn somehow is the Prime Minister. Not all of its manifestations are so harmless, as Nadhim Zahawi points out on ConservativeHome this morning.
Obviously, the law should be enforced against those who commit criminal acts. But if the Government really is considering treating abuse and intimidation of politicians in the same way as hate crime, it ought to think again. MPs are already seen by too many people as a caste apart, distant and remote from their constituents. Turning them into a kind of protected species would only deepen this impression – unfair as it undoubtedly is to most Parliamentarians.