‘Theresa May announced today that the government will consult on making the abuse of MPs a criminal offence.’ [Image: Pool/Reuters].

Diane Abbott receives at least as much online abuse as all the other MPs in Westminster put together. If she says Theresa May is wrong, I agree with her.

The prime minister has chosen to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage with a call for greater protection for MPs and others against abuse. She announced today that the government would consult on making the abuse of MPs a criminal offence. As someone with more than enough experience of personal abuse and threats, in my judgment this is a thoroughly misguided intervention, and Theresa May should have a rethink.

It is unclear why MPs or other elected representatives should have special treatment in law to protect them. There are already laws against violence, threats, intimidation, harassment and stalking. But the experience of victims shows that the law is too often a dead letter. It is only when the situation has escalated beyond control that there is effective police intervention.

No one in public life should ever diminish the real risks that exist. The brutal terrorist murder of one of our own, Jo Cox MP, should put paid to any complacency. Numerous other politicians have also faced lethal threats and extreme violence. We do need safeguards. But so do the public.

Source: I’ve had plenty of online abuse, but I still don’t think MPs deserve special treatment | Diane Abbott | Opinion | The Guardian

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