MP Tulip Siddiq in consultation with police over safety after Jo Cox killing
PUBLISHED: 18:09 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:55 21 June 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hampstead and Kilburn Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said today she is in consultation with police over the safety of her constituency surgeries following the killing of fellow Labour MP Jo Cox.
Ms Siddiq, who spoke out earlier this month about online threats she has received, today told the Ham&High: “In light of what’s happened, we’ve all definitely woken up to the fact that sometimes these threats aren’t empty, and they could actually result in what’s just happened to Jo.
“We are definitely being more vigilant now and being more careful, and the local police have been absolutely fantastic.
“They got in touch immediately, as soon as the incident happened with Jo, but also, when I had these threats, they were in touch to ask what they could do and how they could help or offer reassurance and security.”
Ms Siddiq said that she hasn’t yet taken the police up on any offer of protection, and that she wants to remain as accessible as she can to her constituents - but she will review where her weekly advice surgeries are held.
She said: “I’m in conversation with the police and we’re reviewing where they take place just to make sure they’re not somewhere where I could be in a potentially threatening situation.”
Ms Siddiq revealed that just today she has asked for a meeting with representatives of Twitter to discuss whether enough is being done by the site to crack down on threats of physical violence made by users.
She said: “You get so much hostility online as a politician that it’s not possible to report everything to the police - I mean, you would never get anything else done.
“But I have called for a meeting with Twitter to discuss whether they are being responsible enough in terms of protecting people who are using them.
“It’s become quite a thing to threaten politicians on Twitter, so I would like to see some kind of abuse-reporting button.”
Ms Siddiq said that although misogynistic abuse directed towards women MPs has made the news in the past couple of years, all MPs were subject to threats and would be feeling vulnerable in the current climate.
“I think it doesn’t matter anymore if you’re a man or a woman, young or old, whatever, it doesn’t seem like anyone has any qualms about attacking you., whether you’re a young woman, or an older woman, or a man.
“Stephen Timms got stabbed, and he’s an older man. What is true is that the Parliamentary review found that more women received threats than men.”
Ms Siddiq reiterated that she would not allow threats to silence her, but said that social media sites such as Twitter must be made a less threatening place.
“We can’t allow the internet to become a place for the privileged few who threaten people, it’s got to be a safe space for women as well.
“Some people talk about ‘reclaiming the internet’ but I don’t think we need to be so dramatic, we just need to say the internet is accessible for everyone, and we can use it to communicate with our constituents, as it’s a really good way to be accessible in that way.”
Speaking ahead head of this afternoon’s special sitting of the Commons, Ms Siddid said the whole of Parliament is in mourning for Mrs Cox.
She said: “I was in pieces on the day it happened. I am slowly coming to terms with it, but on Thursday it was a real jolt.”
She added that she knew Mrs Cox quite well, being part of the same Parliamentary intake last May: “Those of us who entered last year were quite a close knit group.
“Jo was the mother to two little children, and when I was pregnant, she gave me a lot of advice, so we bonded partly in that way. She was just a very lovely woman, as everyone says.”
In common with the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Ms Siddiq supports remaining in Europe, and has hit out at aspects of the Leave campaign - such as UKIP’s controversial ‘Breaking Point’ advert, depicting migrants entering Slovenia.
She said: “The investigation into Jo’s death is ongoing, so I don’t know why this murder happened. All I know is we’ve lost an amazing colleague, a wonderful mother and a wonderful wife, someone who really had a bright future ahead of her.
“But what I would say is there’s no doubt that this referendum has created a really nasty atmosphere, and it’s become a proxy vote on immigration, and that’s something I really regret.
“The UKIP poster was just despicable. I said on Sky news that it was unambiguously racist, and let’s not call it anything else.”
She added: “This referendum has brought us a lot of abuse dressed up as political discourse, which we shouldn’t allow to become the norm. We have to challenge it.”