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Any use of a politician’s family as political weaponry is a symptom of political debate transcending respected norms. As Britain limps through the most polarised political scene for a generation, activists from all sides of the spectrum must take steps to avoid turning debate into violence, at all costs.
Last week, protesters confronted lead Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg and his family outside their London home. One activist, claiming to be from the anarchist group Class War, repeatedly told Rees-Mogg’s children, who are no older than nine-years-old, that “lots of people hate your daddy, do you know that?”, as the children looked on, rightly confused and petrified. While Rees-Mogg later appeared to brush the incident off as a typical occurrence in public life, the fact is that the abuse of politician’s families isn’t, and should never be, something that they just have to accept and come to expect.
Make no mistake, activists that bridge the gap between the public and private lives of politicians are laying the foundations of violent extremism. By bridging this gap, the so-called ‘direct-action activists’ are normalising the idea that politician’s families are fair game, which is an extremely dangerous game to play.
It is downright disturbing that just two years after the murder of Jo Cox, society has become so polarised that some choose to behave in this way. It should be the case that the tragedy of Jo’s death acts as a stark warning for us all, in that allowing politicians to appear as almost sub-human paves the way for further abuse and physical violence against them. To be frank, if the murder of one of the most promising and well-liked politicians in the country has not deterred this kind of behaviour, then it is difficult to see what will.
This week, comedian Bethany Black, a recent guest on Ed Miliband’s podcast, tweeted suggesting that leading Brexiteers should be strung up after they make a mess of Brexit. The…