A long, long time ago, when This Writer was still working at the Brecon and Radnor Express (I think), Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams was likened to toilet paper.
Her response was to say that if any comparison could be made, she would be Double Velvet. Many people thought it amusing at the time.
Now it seems that was just a mild example of the kind of abuse she received in a political career that has lasted around 20 years, and that she says has become worse because of the social media.
I’ve had my own differences with Ms Williams (I won’t deny it); politically I am traditional Labour and there is a lot of space between my views and hers. But we co-operated on the campaign for the general election voting system to be changed to proportional representation before the referendum – and wouldn’t the UK be a much better place if we had succeeded?
And she was an excellent constituency AM.
So I am saddened to learn that she – along with her husband and children – has been forced to deal with this.
I am far more willing to believe her than some of the representatives of my own party, who – in my opinion – went out of their way to stir up reactions and then squealed when people responded aggressively to their own unacceptable behaviour.
One of the examples in the BBC article is when then-Welsh Assembly Member Neil Hamilton referred to her and Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood as “political concubines”. He got away with it after claiming he had not intended to upset anybody.
But that is deliberately provocative language! How did he think people were going to react?
And when people see those who are elected to high office acting in such a way, they think it is permissible to do the same.
We have a shocking example of this squatting in 10 Downing Street pretending to be prime minister at the moment, having referred to gay people as “tank-topped bum boys”, Muslim women as “letterboxes”, black people as having “watermelon smiles”… the list of his offences is endless.
But it is possible that some relief is on the horizon, with the forthcoming Online Harms Bill that will bring in prison sentences for the behaviour Ms Williams identifies.
She says she would not discourage her three daughters from entering politics but would be worried for them, having to cope with the kind of abuse she has received.
I hope the new law – if it doesn’t have its teeth pulled by some of the offenders in Westminster – will make the environment safer, for all the rest of us and for them.
Even if I don’t approve of the political party they may choose to represent.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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