'Social media has amplified hate against politicians', says MP Mike Gapes

'Social media has amplified hate against MPs', says MP Mike Gapes

Gapes said he has received threats over Twitter

Friday, June 17, 2016

After the death of MP Jo Cox, the Labour MP Mike Gapes spoke of the abuse he has received – including death threats – on social media.

"I've had some very unpleasant things on Twitter and I use the block button much more than I used to," the MP for Ilford South told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

"When I was ill last year there were people who were actually celebrating the fact, and wishing I was dead.

"We are in a situation where social media has amplified this. The kind of remarks they would have said in a pub when they've had too much to drink, they put on Twitter.

"But the vast majority of people are kind. I've had some lovely messages today from people."

Due to the scenes yesterday, many have feared for the safety of MPs, but Gapes claims it's always been a problem.

"I wouldn't say there's fear, but we all know and we've always known that there are people out there who try and wish us harm.

"Sometimes people come to MPs with very complex issues, and you have to do a lot of research and have good staff who work for you to deal with these issues. It is a seven day a week job.

"If you're representing your community, you have to be rooted in and probably living in your community. That is for all MPs of all parties, and I don't think you can avoid that. It does mean you occasionally have unpleasant incidents."

He praised the work of Cox.

"We as members of Parliament know what the pressure on you as an MP is, and she had young children and she balanced and juggled all of that, and she was doing so much good.

"There are very few MPs who come here with a foreign policy or an international development understanding and background. Many of us develop it over years but she had that as soon as she came in, and she really made a big impact straight away."