Abuse in Politics


The boundaries between legitimate protest, abuse and intimidation are again in the spotlight. It is not the first time this has been an issue. I wrote about this subject in 2016 when I was an MP.

Those of us who rightly call for the carnage in Gaza to stop – and stop now – must certainly reject intimidatory abuse in support of that cause. But nobody should pretend such abuse has ever only come from one side of the Israel/Palestine argument. See these examples of abuse I received in response to my advocacy of Palestinian rights over 7 years ago.

One further thought: Those who demand disciplinary action against MPs who argue for equal rights for all across both Israel and the Occupied Territories, or against MPs who echo the International Court of Justice in saying there is a plausible case that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, do nothing to stop an atmosphere of intimidation developing in politics. They add to it.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.