Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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I’m gonna fucking kill you…

Amongst Labour MPs who don’t support Jeremy Corbyn, internet death threats are common currency. They talk about them and some, like the awful Yvette Cooper,use them as an excuse for a Reclaim the Internet campaign that looks like Blairite authoritarianism wrapped up in a bastardized feminist slogan.

I have had my share of death threats. When you’ve worked in the world of the high volume vertical drinking establishment your Saturday night usually isn’t complete if that amiable drunk you’re refusing entry to because he’s wearing awful trainers and naff jeans doesn’t suddenly go a little bit weird and threaten to come back when he’s sober and kill you for ruining his life.

At that moment you do a quick on the fly risk assessment. Is he just an amiable drunk, or is he actually dangerous? Having had to fight people who suddenly pull knives,or who try to get their significant other to smuggle a knife into the premises to help their thirst for revenge, I kind of know what this can mean.

So, these Labour MPs receiving these death threats, how are they doing with their risk assessments? You’d hope they’re good at risk assessments. Many of them are the same people who voted to invade Iraq on the basis of some fairly shonky risk assessments, so you’d hope they’ve got better at it.

We’ve written a bit here about Isabelle Sorley.  And here. And,with a degree of anger and bitterness that I don’t regret, here.The original threats that got Sorley jailed were not credible threats. There never was any risk that she was going to do the things she threatened; we’re talking about a lifestyle alcoholic who if she tried to get a train to London to carry out her threats would get distracted in the station bar and end up fighting the Transport Police when her drink got stopped.

Keyboard warriors got their name because their weapon is a keyboard. Is it asking too much that we ask of Labour MPs if they will stop and do a little bit of risk appraisal and management before they start bleating about all the death threats they receive?

Actually, after Jo Cox’s death, I’d say it’s pretty much the duty of every MP to tighten up their risk appraisal and risk management. Distinguishing between credible threats and the incredible should be what MPs train their staff to do, everyday. So someone saying ‘I could kill you all for what you’ve done to my family’ is not the same as someone saying ‘I have bought an AK47 from my brother in law who brought it over from Belfast, and I will come to your office above Mrs Miggins pie shop and shoot you.’

If you want to make the case for another in the long and dark tradition of badly justified authoritarian laws with which Yvette Cooper is associated, then of course both are death threats. The first phrase though is from a letter to a local council that came from a mother who through awful circumstances and council failings ended up with her kids in care while she lived in a hostel for the homeless. In that case a social worker engaged with the mother, identified that the greatest risk was not a jihad against the council but self harm, and arranged an intervention that meant the mother was helped.

Death threats are horrible to receive, and a plague on the discourse and life of a civilized society. The way in which they are being cited, without nuance or analysis, as evidence of something more sinister that requires authoritarian remedies is pointless, and it is choking the life out of intelligent debate in the Labour Party.

 

 

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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