THIS newspaper makes no apology for, once again, highlighting the threats of violence, and verbal abuse, being meted out to the region’s MPs with depressing frequency – and the need for the criminal justice system’s response to be more robust.
Like the then Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox who was murdered shortly after arriving at a constituency surgery in Birstall in June 2016, politicians of all persuasions are public servants driven by a desire to do their best for their community.
And irrespective of their personal stance on Brexit, or any other issue, there will never be any excuse – or justification – for the type of behaviour that has left many MPs, and also their staff and families, fearing for their safety because some threats might be more sinister than others.
Given how Britain has long prided itself on having an open democracy when Parliament is open to the public, and MPs accessible to all, it is depressing that politicians feel the need to take enhanced security precautions while they go about their job. Sadly, it is a necessary expense and taxpayers will, we trust, be understanding of this.
Contrary to perception a decade after the expenses scandal broke, most MPs are motivated by public service, rather than financial recompense, and their new annual salary of £79,468, after a controversial 2.7 per cent pay rise was confirmed this week, is still relatively modest given the responsibilities involved and the fact that they are very rarely off duty.
The risk, as Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis sets out today, is very able individuals possibly being deterred from a career in politics because the rewards do not justify the safety risks.
It must not be allowed to come to this. Irrespective of whether the abuse emanates from deeply disturbed individuals, or social media trolls hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, the police – and courts – must use their powers to bring the perpetrators to justice.
And if, for any reason, people feel the need to seek recourse, there is a very simple solution. It is called an election when they can cast their vote for whoever they may so choose. It remains the cornerstone of this country’s democracy – and must never be compromised by a tiny minority of troubled individuals, or extremists, trying, or threatening, to take the law into their own hands.