Commons Deputy Speaker attacks culture of media aggression to politicians

In light of the killing of Conservative MP, David Amess, at a constituency surgery in Leigh on Sea last Friday, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons has attacked the culture of media aggression directed at politicians.

Speaking this morning on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme, Dame Eleanor Laing said, “It can be deeply upsetting when you know that MPs and Ministers are working hard to solve some problem or other, and when the matter is discussed in the media, MPs are vilified, Ministers are spoken to very harshly, and it does help to create a culture of aggression.  Why can’t we have a culture of kindness”.

“You don’t know which newspaper article, or which Twitter feed was the final straw in making someone, who does something horrendous, what actually sparked them to take action.  You don’t know what was the final thing, that pushed them over the edge, but it is undoubtedly a combination of factors”.

Dame Eleanor, who as Chairman of Ways and Means is the principal Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, referred to the “extremely good professional advice” that her and the Speaker have been receiving in their ongoing attempts to improve MPs security.

“What we have to do is find a balance so that Members of Parliament and other public servants, can balance the need to be out there talking to constituents, understanding what is going on, whilst at the same time not being exposed to unnecessary aggression”.

However in pointing to the difficulties faced in protecting MPs, Dame Eleanor noted that it was not possible for MPs to have protection every minute of the day, adding, “Every time I queue for fish and chips, I am still the Member of Parliament”.

During the history of the British Parliament, a total of nine MPs including Sir David Amess, have now been killed in the course of their work.  Six of these deaths, have occurred since 1979.