I just want an election fought in the traditional Christmas spirit
PUBLISHED: 17:50 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:46 31 October 2019
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Columnist Rachel Moore says MPs owe it to the memory of murdered Jo Cox to conduct themselves with decorum during the oncoming general election campaign
Mull the wine and warm the mince pies. The Christmas doorstep campaigners are on their way.
The first December general election since 1923 has been announced, and it's tipped to the fiercest yet, in an increasingly polarised nation divided about Brexit and with increased radicalism in both directions.
Now the date is set for December 12, can we have one early Christmas wish, please? That Christmas spirit can infuse the campaigning and the hostility, language of war and savagery of one another in the name of politics is left behind and softened.
It's time for change. Civilisation in politics is long overdue.
We need to tell our politicians that enough is enough.
We tell our children not to bully, harass, insult. We want them to become politically engaged as young people, but what a terrible example our shocking shower of politicians are.
How different the campaign would be if all parties and their faithful took a long hard look at how they behave, the bile they have been exchanging and how their bitter anger spills over into society.
Embracing the approach to Christmas of love, light, hope and peace that symbolises the season they will be campaigning and voting in would make such a difference.
In memory of Jo Cox, the MP and mother of two shot and stabbed multiple times to death in the last days of campaigning for the Brexit referendum three years ago, can we please tone down the language and hostility and revive clever, reasoned and rational debate?
Can we have a pre-election pledge to shelve the brutality and treat each other as humans and listen and respect each other's opinions.
Yesterday, Amber Rudd announced she would not stand as an MP again, the day after Liberal Democrat MP (elected as a Tory) Heidi Allen, said she was ducking out of politics because of the "nastiness and intimidation" she had endured - and far beyond the stick she might have expected for defecting from parties twice.
The experience of representing her constituency had been "dehumanising." She is exhausted by the invasion into her privacy and the "nastiness and intimidation that has become commonplace.
Who would want to step into such an arena of negative nasty politics today, unless negative and nasty is your natural setting?
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As Allen said: "Nobody in any job should have to put up with threats, aggressive emails, being shouted at in the street, sworn at on social media, nor have to install panic alarms at home."
She spoke for so many when she said lines were crossed too regularly.
What struck me, whether you agree or not with her politics - because the abuse comes from all sides and to all sides - is that she was heartbroken that she could no longer deliver the change that drove her into politics in the first place.
Murder and rape threats are received by MPs Jess Phillips, Paula Sheriff, Stella Creasy and others as often as their phones ring with cold calls. It's become part of their life, expectation and a result of speaking out in politics.
Jess Phillips received 800 rape threats in a single night last year.
Only this week, Michael Gove's wife, Sarah Vine, wrote about super-security windows and doors were being installed in their family home, because he was considered a security threat.
While this goes on, incendiary rhetoric, littered with warfare terminology - traitor, surrender, defeat - goes on in parliament, this intemperate language spills over on to social media, on the street and, even, in the home.
Parliamentary showboating is one thing, but it's irresponsible to see it as having no ripple effect on the streets.
Our society is broken and divided, increasingly so since the Brexit referendum. Families are split and punches have been thrown. All in the name of 'politics.'
This general election offers opportunity for change. For a different approach.
Firstly, it's a general election. Parties must not make it a single-issue election. This is an election that shapes decisions about our future - our NHS, schools, public and services. It is not another referendum.
I am scared about what this election campaign will bring. Tempers are raised - anger and temper have no place in politics - and there is more intolerance and shouting down than ever.
We've witnessed the worst with Jo Cox's murder, but, rather than learn lessons from this hideous effect, hatred has escalated and is poisoning not just parliamentary politics, but discussion far beyond.
In a liberal democracy, the intolerance is shocking.
We want young people for feel passionate about politics and get involved, but not be scared. They should be inspired by the prospect of making a difference and change for good, not witnessing those trying to do this be threatened with maiming, rape and death for speaking out.
The timing of this election, as much as a pain as it feels, gives everyone a chance to look at the two December events and search for synergy of spirit to bring goodwill and cheery respect to dark, hate-riven times.
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