Abuse of MPs not 'going away' or 'getting any better' says Batley and Spen's Kim Leadbeater

The abuse of MPs “isn’t going away” or “getting any better” a Yorkshire MP has said.

Kim Leadbeater believes that society has got to “look at solutions” to the problem to “create less of a toxic culture” around politics”.

In a documentary to be aired tonight on Channel 4, the Batley and Spen MP examines the scale of the issue with politicians on both sides of the House of Commons.

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Speaking to the Yorkshire Post ahead of the film airing, she explained she has been “working on this subject to some degree” since her sister and former Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was murdered in 2016, but the issue was thrown into the public eye again last year with the killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

Undated handout photo issued by Yorkshire and the Humber Labour Party showing Kim Leadbeater

She said: “During my time in Parliament, I’ve had literally dozens and dozens of conversations with MPs who are experiencing daily abuse, threats, intimidation.

“So it’s a subject that isn’t going away and I think isn’t getting any better.”

More than 60 MPs spoke to the filmmakers, including Bradford West representative Naz Shah, who explained that she has spoken to her children about what would happen should she be killed.

“We have morbid conversations of ‘God if I… you know, if I ever lost my life…’

“We’ve had those conversations,” Ms Shah said.

Ms Leadbeater said that she hoped the film would not evoke “sympathy” for MPs who are “privileged” and in “well paid jobs” but do more to show that things need to change to ensure that good people are not discouraged from political life.

She explained: “What I tried to do with the documentary, it’s not about getting better security for MPs.

“It’s not about that.

“It’s about looking at political discourse, and culture, and what we can do to try and make sure that we make protect our democracy, but also make sure that elected officials feel safe to do their jobs properly.

“I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want people to feel sorry for us. I don’t think my colleagues want that.

“You know, we’re in very privileged positions, well paid jobs.

“But what I’m worried about is losing good people from public life.”

Detective Inspector Philip Grindell, Head of the Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team between 2016 and 2019 told the documentary that he saw some MPs who were particularly worried during the Brexit campaign.

He recalled: “We would see really, really resilient MPs having effectively breakdowns behind the scenes

“I had times where I had particular MPs phoning me 50 times a day. Is it safe to go out?

“Some MPs were vulnerable, hugely vulnerable, and we saw them very very significantly mentally unwell at times.”

MPs Under Threat – Dispatches airs Monday 23 May at 7.30pm on Channel 4