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Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

I’ve always liked Anna Soubry, and completely respect her strong views on the European issue, which are in contract to my own.

However, as an elected Conservative MP, you are a participant on politics, not a commentator on it. Her outburst on Newsnight this week, calling for so-called Hard Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson to be slung out of the Party, was outrageous. Given that these are in tune with official party policy and with the party membership, it was a ridiculous thing to say.

Successful political parties are big-tent coalition, not narrow sects. Jacob Rees-Mogg, whatever you think of him or some of his views is just as much a Conservative as Anna Soubry. If the Labour Party can contain both John McDonnell and Chuka Umunna, I fail to see why both Anna and Jacob can’t belong in the Conservative Party.

Given what she said on Newsnight and the next day on Good Morning Britain, I’d say it’s highly likely that we will see Anna leaving the party at some point this year. This would be a crying shame, given her talents and her ability to communicate on the media. I for one would regret her going, and so should even the most devout Eurosceptic. Openly divided parties do not win elections.

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The language used by both sides on the Brexit debate seems to be hardening and coarsening. As a Brexiteer, I have been described as “swivel-eyed”, “mad”, “a Eurosceptic wanker” – and far worse. I have tried not to respond in kind, and have a deliberate policy of not using the word ‘Remoaner’.

But, on Twitter, you’re wading through a terrible sewer at times. Just retweeting and linking to an article on Brexit Central attracts all sorts of abuse. Three friends have told me this week that they have left Twitter because of the abuse. I may not be far behind them. If it weren’t for the fact that I need it for my job, and to market stuff I do, I would have probably jacked it in some time ago.

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“I am very clear that crime is of course wrong,” Jeremy Corbyn said at PMQs on Wednesday. We are grateful.

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I’m not a great fan of historical apologies or posthumous pardons, and think that it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the cause of the suffragettes to imagine that they would even want a pardon from the state for what they did.

That they achieved their aims and that no one wants to turn the clock back is testament to their actions. Why would they have wanted to be ‘forgiven’?

On my radio show on Tuesday, when we spent an hour marking the hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage I took some flak for saying that some people would describe some of the things the suffragettes did as terrorism.

Many of their actions wouldn’t be classed as that, but surely some would, I suggested. After the show I got an email from a listener whose grandfather had been a judge in the Emmeline Pankhurst trial. This is what he wrote…

“I was interested to hear the refs to ‘terrorism’ on your show tonight, especially since my ancestral cousin, Sir Charles Montague Lush, was the last judge to send Mrs E.Pankhurst down on the 3rd April, 1913 at London’s Central Criminal Court.

Mrs P. may not have lit the fuse herself when Lloyd-George’s residence was bombed in Feb. of that year but she was arrested for having ‘counselled and procured’ the perpetrators of the crime, a charge she denied. Mr Bodkin, acting for The Crown, then read out a letter written in her own hand saying that ‘if we don’t get what we want…the Government and the public will be bullied into giving us what we want…’

After receiving a verdict of guilty with a strong recommendation to mercy, ‘Montie’, in his summing up, declared that her crime was indeed ‘wicked because it not only leads to the destruction of property…but it may also expose other people to the danger of being maimed or even killed.’ But paying due regard to the jury’s recommendation, Montie, who had championed many causes celebres on behalf of women as a leading counsel, passed the minimum sentence of three years’ penal servitude as opposed to the maximum of fourteen years’ imprisonment.

Damage to property in this and other circumstances had certainly been carried out by an element of the suffragettes described by one of Mrs P’s biographers as ‘guerilla warfare’. I therefore refute any suggestion that there wasn’t an element of ‘terrorism’ present in the group’s activities.

Consequently, I would suggest that any notion of a pardon granted to those who, as you rightly pointed out, were long since dead and were sentenced according to the law of the land at that time in order to keep the public safe utterly absurd.

Yours sincerely, Charlie Lush

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Amongst all the totally justified celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage, we seem to have forgotten that it is also 100 years since working class men got the vote too. Isn’t it odd that the Labour Party in particular has made nothing of that?

342 comments for: Iain Dale: The language used by both sides in the Brexit debate is hardening and coarsening

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