There was an absolute furore last week over violence of our political discourse.
I can quite understand why this is upsetting, after all, I’ve been at the receiving end of a considerable measure of it.
Frankly, I think it has always been there, but the absence of technology restricted its circulation to bores banging on about politics in a pub or canteen, and unable to express themselves without profanities. Now however, they can get onto Facebook, Twitter or whatever, and broadcast bile to ever wider audiences.
In addition, as I have observed before, many people will say things whilst typing away at their laptop or mobile telephone, that they would never have dreamed of putting on paper and sending in a letter. Rather in the same way that motorists will shout at other drivers in the privacy of their own car, using language that they would be most unlikely to use in public.
I have definitely seen the temperature rising over the last year. There is at the root an anger and frustration at the apparent unwillingness of elected politicians to implement the result of the referendum. Parliament was explicit when it passed the legislation for a referendum in 2016: it clearly stated that the future of our membership of the EU, in or out, would be decided by the voters themselves, and that Parliament would implement their decision, whichever way it went.
Since when we have seen political parties renege from that commitment, some openly and honestly, others by a pretence.
The anger and frustration that this has caused is as understandable as the stridency and volume of protests, and even the threats, have become worrying.
I am not persuaded that, as is alleged, it is the language used by politicians themselves that has set the nation alight and corroded the public discourse. We have always enjoyed robust political language in our debates. Prime Minister’s question time has, for as long as I have been in Parliament, been a popular spectacle, in a way that proceedings in foreign assemblies rarely match.
I note that those who complained loudest about the PM’s use of language last week, were themselves amongst the worst habitual offenders.
Argument focussed on the term ‘surrender act’ as the PM’s chosen description of the European Union Number 2 Act 2019. The reason he calls it a surrender act is because it requires him to ask for a further extension of our EU membership and to accept whatever terms the EU demands in return for that extension. ‘Surrender’ is the best description, and the reason the opposition is so angry about the language is because they know how effective it is.
Those who want to prevent BREXIT have spotted that Boris is the last obstacle standing in their way, so absolutely everything is to be thrown at him. I fear that the temperature of political discourse has further to climb.