MP's meeting with trade unionists cancelled amid online threats

Trade unionists have condemned the torrent of abusive and hate-filled messaging on social media after a meeting with Wigan’s MP had to be cancelled.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 7:44 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 8:53 am
Wigan Trades Council

Wigan Trades Council had been due to speak to Lisa Nandy at Sunshine House about their concerns over the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

However, the meeting has now had to be axed after a spate of vile threatening comments were made over the internet.

The Trades Council has said it will still meet Ms Nandy and will not be intimidated by such tactics, also heavily criticising the currently level of political debate.

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Lisa Nandy MP

A spokesperson said: “Brexit has divided the country like no other issue, yet there are still tormented people who believe that an argument can be won by sitting in front of a monitor and using insulting language, safe in the knowledge that their crass behaviour is hidden behind closed doors and darkened windows.

“These threats will not stop the planned meeting which will go ahead at another time convenient to all sides.

“We need to send out a message that we will not be frightened or intimidated by these people.

“If need be we will provide security for our events, although it is disgraceful and shameful that may be necessary.

“People can shout and scream on social media all they like, but they should come to an event and debate and discuss in a rational, adult manner, rather than churning out rubbish in front of a monitor.

“Whether we voted to leave or remain in the European union, or whether Brexit is delayed or goes ahead without a deal, this does not stop us from uniting behind a positive commitment to increase the quality and welfare of people’s lives, instead of using any method of sowing fear and disunity which benefits absolutely no-one.”

The issue of Britain’s departure from the EU has created a polarised society and in particular online discourse about politics seems to have become ever more vitriolic and divisive.

Protestors have disrupted TV broadcasts outside parliament, including with chants comparing prominent pro-Remain MPs to Nazis.

Ms Nandy has herself spoken about the increasingly-toxic online debates, revealing at the start of the year she had switched off social media after being plagued by abuse.

And she was in no doubt about the damaging effect the tide of hate-filled messaging is having on public life.

In a column for our sister paper the Wigan Observer Ms Nandy said: “It has become normal for public figures to receive threats to hang, shoot and stab them.

“There is still a clear difference between the way people speak to one another in person, which is usually thoughtful and measured, and the numerous emails and Facebook posts all MPs receive which range from abusive to threatening.

“On social media reasoned debate is drowned out by hate and anger. There is no check on facts.

“The public are deliberately being misled as a consequence.”

Councillors in the borough have also passed a motion condemning abuse in public life at a full council meeting.