British politics has turned nasty - we need to dial down the temperature on public debate

26 February 2024, 08:25

British politics has turned nasty - we need to dial down the temperature on public debate, writes Johnny Jenkins
British politics has turned nasty - we need to dial down the temperature on public debate, writes Johnny Jenkins. Picture: Alamy/LBC
Johnny Jenkins

By Johnny Jenkins

Politics has become so heated over the past few months. As we begin the long election campaign, we must remember that all politicians are human beings.

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I remember where I was when my MP was murdered. You didn’t see the name ‘David Amess’ on breaking news alerts often - he was a quiet local politician, who put his constituents first.

The nation’s media descended upon my home town of Southend to report on the killing of the gentleman I’d known for a decade.

Reporters had practised this routine - after all, they’d spent time in Batley covering a similar tragic story when Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in 2016.

Amess was murdered at a constituency surgery in a church on a residential road - it was a local meeting without any police protection.

It’s been revealed this weekend that three female MPs are now under close protection because of threats to their security. It’s unforgivable that it’s got to this stage, but public discourse plays a role in heightened tensions.

Since the attack by terrorist group Hamas in October, the political temperature gauge has been cranked up.

Conservative Tobias Ellwood had his privacy invaded when protesters began singing pro-Houthi chants outside his home this month.

Just this weekend, Labour MP Anneliese Dodds faced campaigners in Oxford, who screamed in her face about her party’s position on the war in Gaza.

Both of the main political parties have their issues with racism. Labour is continuing its battle to root out antisemitic views held by some members, while the Conservatives stand accused of harbouring Islamophobia.

And we mustn’t forget the confusing events of the Commons this week - when SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn fumed at the Speaker. His rage was palpable - nobody needs to get that angry over parliamentary protocol!

Most of these shameful incidents stem from the conflict in the Middle East, but it goes beyond this.

Last week, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch described the former Post Office chairman as a ‘liar’. Did the minister really need to use such strong language? I think not.

The short-lived former Prime Minister Liz Truss spent the weekend sitting alongside the broadcaster Steve Bannon, staying quiet while the former Trump staffer described Tommy Robinson as a ‘hero’. That is a disgrace.

Heated and divisive language is ubiquitous in politics across the pond and I’ve got no issue with Biden and Trump taking personal jibes at one another.

But back home, we’re better than this. We’ve got a responsibility to rise above hatred. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned British respect and kindness?

The events of the past few months in the Middle East have had ramifications around the world, but the pressure cooker of British politics is about to burst. Let’s dial down the heat in our politics.


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