Tag Archives: antoinette sandbach

Tory leadership contest already degenerating into online abuse.

One of the reasons there is a lot of solidarity among women in politics is that we all have to put up with a lot of the same crap.

We have to deal with people thinking that they have the right to say things to us about our appearance, our behaviour and our beliefs than they would ever dare to say to another man.

So when I saw Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach tweet a horrible message (which she has since deleted) she’d had from a male Tory MP, my first thought was sympathy for her.

At the tail end of the coalition, I actually felt I was going to completely go under at one point with all the abuse I was getting. And the worst was from fellow Lib Dems telling me what a disgrace I was. The pro-coalition people didn’t think I was loyal enough to Nick Clegg. The anti-coalition people thought I was too slavishly loyal to Nick Clegg.  And I got it at full pelt from both sides.

A year or so later, I wrote about the experience, and this seems to be a good time to reprise that here:

The internet is a pretty torrid place at the best of times. Some users delight in throwing rage, bile and abuse around the place. If you are a woman the abuse can be particularly graphic, sexualised and incredibly unpleasant.

In a feature for Radio 5 live, 3 politicians, including our former minister Jo Swinson, talk about their experiences of online abuse and how it affected them. Also taking part are my SNP MP Hannah Bardell and Labour’s Diane Abbott, who gets a whole load of racist bile thrown in just for good measure.

This is fairly routine for any woman who commits the “offence” of going on the internet in possession of an opinion. I’ve come in for it myself and it does wear you down. There was a time a couple of years ago where it really started to affect me badly and reduced me to tears on several occasions. The European elections disaster and the independence referendum combined to create what seemed to be a never-ending spiral of abuse. The most hurtful came from commenters on this site, members of the party, some of whom I actually know in real life, who said some pretty unpleasant personal stuff, but they were just part of it. It felt that wherever I turned, there was nastiness.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments
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