David Amess was one of the longest serving Conservative MPs and was murdered last week. Speculation is still rife as to the reasoning behind his death, which is currently being investigated by anti terrorism forces in the UK. The Conservative party have quickly made the link to Amess’ murder and online threats of violence- despite the fact that the person held in custody has so far not been shown to have any online persona. If anything, this tenuous linking of brutal and horrific murder to online discourse seems disingenuous, linked to something the tory party had vested interests in already. David Amess was concerned about knife crime before his death and had spoken about this on multiple occasions- perhaps action on knife crime would have been more fitting of a tribute.
A discussion is being had, predictably, that MPs voting records should be sealed or at least not so easy to disseminate- mostly because the more cynical amongst us are quick to check MP voting records when they weigh in on social issues. To prevent that would be a disgusting step backwards- another one- in a democratic society.
Those who are keen to seal voting records are quick to say that MPs could have been whipped to vote against their personal interests etc- regardless, they did vote as such, and to remove our right to transparency when it comes to an MPs vote is a foolish move.
Those who made this observation were also horrendously disrespectful towards those of us who do frequent pages to check voting records, implying that perhaps we “didn’t understand the nuance of voting”. Because of course they understand, in a way we do not. You’ll be shocked of course to know that these people were boomer tories- as always assuming that their opinion is the opinion.
For my sins, I have only seen the screenshots of votes David Amess cast during his time in parliament. I have my own personal opinions about those votes, especially as some directly impacted on my potential rights as an individual. It’s somewhat irrelevant- murdering someone is actually not something we should endorse- if political disagreement is a prerequisite for murder then we’re all constantly at threat, and if you can’t defend your political standpoints without violence then frankly political discourse might not be for you. Getting heated, even being disrespectful is just discussion- feel free to engage or disengage as is your wont. Violence is a no-no.
Equally it’s not exactly easy when you run into someone who is diametrically opposed to you having equality. When I meet people who are against gay marriage I can’t imagine the narrow mindedness with which you can approach deciding that your personal distaste for someone else’s adult relationship trumps their right to have equal standing in a society. So to see anti gay votes on someone’s ledger, yes, makes me dislike them; makes me unlikely to be civil to them if they engage me. That is, as they say – my right in a free country.
We’ve already had our hands tied on protesting. We’ve already been told that helping someone drowning if they’re a refugee is punishable. We’ve seen statues offered more protection than women’s bodies or LGBT+ people, whose hate crimes have risen precipitously. We’ve seen denials of racism even as the PM himself and the home secretary gleefully spark rows about what constitutes abhorrent racist practice, and to refuse to apologise for it. We’re now approaching an inability to speak in terse terms to politicians who have made no concerted effort to protect us from coronavirus, goods and medicine shortages, rising commodity prices… The UK’s ever steady march towards authoritarianism under this government continues.
I will not be stopped from holding MPs to account. Violence is unacceptable. Speaking back to people whose decisions impact on my quality of life is the very least we should be allowed. And the important freedoms we have so treasured in the past are removed, while people opine on the imaginary freedoms like the freedom not to wear a mask during a pandemic, or the imaginary freedom of not getting a vaccine so you can become a walking super spreader.
I wish David Amess had not been killed, because he was a human and human life has value. But the tories move to turn his death into more oppressive legislation is yet another low move on their part. Let’s remember that when Johnson was called out for his rhetoric in parliament after the murder of my old MP, Jo Cox, by a white supremacist who blamed her pro-eu stance – Johnson all but scoffed at the implication that his words inflamed people to commit violence.
The worst, the most insidious literary violence we can see is not from anonymous profiles- it’s from Journalists with tens of thousands of readers who gleefully swallow back the “traitorous remainers” or “terrorist sympathisers” or whatever else you want to cherry pick from the endless rhetoric of the media. The government is interested in curtailing the media’s ability to hold it to account, as mentioned earlier this year. So what, then, if all this legislation is passed- the media cannot publish “embarrassing” articles about MP’s, we can’t speak out about MP’s poor service: does that sound democratic to you?
What the government fail to realise is that UK citizens’ patience with their obsessive need to protect themselves rather than do a good job is waning, even when it comes to the endless defences of the media, and willing puppets like Dan Hodges who push pro government agenda even in the face of their disgusting hypocrisy.
We will not be held down when it comes to exercising our voices.