first_imgThis narrative of an illegitimate democracy was arguablywhat motivated the murderer of Jo Cox, who is alleged to have shouted “this isfor Britain” before carrying out his attack. The murder, which took place days before the EU referendum,was a great shock to both the country and to the world. This was the first timein over 25 years that a sitting British MP had been killed. I ask Smith whetherthe murder was a freak occurrence, or evidence of a much wider phenomenon. “Whathappened to Jo Cox is not a one-off. There has already been a plot to murderRosie Cooper MP earlier this year which was stopped by the police.” Jacquirefers to the plot by far-right extremist who purchased a sword online andresearched how to cut the jugular artery before his plans were thwarted by aninformant. Renshaw was sentenced to life in May 2019. It is especially chillingto think that there is a real risk of future attacks. “There is considerable evidence of a growth in intimidation,death threats and abuse. The business model incentivises this – there is apremium for agitation.” I meet Jacqui at the Big Tent Ideas Festival, a day of political debate and discussion with MPs, academics and journalists held in Mudchute in South London. The former Home Secretary was appointed chair of the Jo Cox Foundation in May 2019. As is customary at all political events these days, before entering the venue I have to pass through a thorough security check, where a metal detector is passed up and down me, the contents of my backpack emptied out , each item individually inspected – a reminder of how much effort is now needed just to ensure MPs are able to engage with the public in safety. Jacqui is speaking at a panel discussion on the abuse facingthose in public life, alongside Angela Eagle MP and Lord Jonathan Evans. Amongthe ideas discussed on the panel was  Eagle’sproposal for an outright ban on all anonymous social media accounts,  given that these are disproportionatelyresponsible for the proliferation of abuse. I ask Jacqui whether that’s somethingshe supports: She seems reticent to endorse a full ban on anonymity. But, I ask Jacqui, while social media has given a platformto those who wish to abuse MPs online, what difference would it make to shutthem down? The people would still exist, they would still hold and express thesame views, only it would be less visible to the rest of us as they gounderground. The volume of abuse directed at parliamentarians hasballooned in recent years. Research by Amnesty International on online abuse in2017 revealed the full extent of the problem. In the period January to June2017, 8,121 out of 140,057 ofall tweets mentioning @HackneyAbbott, the Twitter Handle of Diane Abbott MP wereclassified as abusive. Women and minority MPs are disproportionately affected:the shadow Home Secretary receives almost half of all abusive tweets directedat women MPs. Does the severity of the risk call for strong legislativechange to mitigate the risk of further violence? Smith is clear that the Jo Coxfoundation is not in the business of lobbying for changes to the law, or tomake party-political points: “We don’t want changes in legislation but rather ajoint standard agreed between all parties. The Foundation has three objectives;local communities that are engaged, cohesive and able to contribute to what’sgoing on; a national politics that is lively but also respectful and developinga fairer world.” A message which I think few can disagree with.center_img “What shocks me is the way in which verbal and physicalabuse is so prominent – I’m really worried about that. I’ve spoken to peoplewho say they want to step down. People who changed their roles because ofthreats and intimidation. People say it prevents them from coming forward.” Jacqui tells me the visibility of abusive online messages iscausing those who work or want to work in politics to reconsider. Some  rudimentary Twitter research confirms that theproblem persists. [mi3] Justin September 2019 I found hundreds of abusive Tweets directed at Diane Abbott,who was called a ‘traitor’ 104 times, ‘fat’ 27 times, ‘ugly’ 20 times, ‘cow’ 18times, ‘twat’ 18 times, ‘bitch’ 14 times, ‘pig’ 10 times. I also found over 100tweets in the last 3 days alone calling Diane ‘thick’. It’s quite shocking tosee how brazenly people are prepared to issue insults and verbal attacks ontheir representatives – I’m minded not to quote several full length abusive tweetsas Amnesty have done. “There might be circumstances like whistleblowing whereanonymity is justified,” the former Home Secretary says. “What is not justifiedis hiding behind anonymity to commit criminal acts.” “Everybody has the right to demonstrate and protest – thatis a healthy thing but not when it undermines the democratic system. One of thethings identified is a view that the democratic system is illegitimate.” “It’s not just that social media is what people sayface-to-face. Social media radicalises: it develops the attitudes not justfacilitates communication.” Smith tells me.last_img read more

first_img0Shares0000Samuel Eto’o won the Champions League in successive years with Barcelona and Inter Milan © AFP/File / Josep LAGODOHA, Qatar, Aug 14 – Samuel Eto’o sought the advice of Xavi Hernandez and Wesley Sneijder before choosing to play in Qatar, the Cameroon star said as he was unveiled by his new club Tuesday.After a whirlwind transfer — Eto’o was playing in Turkey a week ago — the beaming 37-year-old striker was presented by Qatar Sports Club, his 13th side, at a chaotic press conference in Doha. The four-times African player of the year said he had spoken to his ex-Barcelona and Inter Milan colleagues before committing to the one-year contract, and they convinced him to play in Qatar.“Xavi and Sneijder are best friends,” said Eto’o.“Before I came to Qatar I spoke to them and they told me all conditions are good, to seize the experience and that it is good to play here.”Xavi has played in Qatar with Al Sadd since 2015 and has been tipped to become the country’s coach when they host the World Cup in 2022.Sneijder plays for Al Gharafa and has been in the Gulf since the beginning of the year.In 2009, Eto’o won the Champions League with Barcelona playing alongside Xavi.A year later he won Europe’s biggest club trophy with Inter, this time in the same side as Sneijder.In Doha he will play in the number 81 shirt — Eto’o was born in 1981 — and could make his debut as early as Friday when his new team take on Al-Sailiya in the Qatar Stars League.His signing is a coup for Qatar Stars Club.They have won eight league championships, but the last of those came in 2003 and they are not expected to challenge this season.Last season they finished in mid-table in a 12-team league, a massive 36 points behind champions Al Duhail.They have played two games so far this season, winning one and losing the other.Eto’o also said he was confident that Qatar would host a good World Cup.Asked about fears over 2022, Eto’o pointed to the experience of Russia, where he played with Anzhi Makhachkala.“A lot of people said it won’t be good.“I was playing in Russia and I heard a lot of things like that and now Russia has held the best World Cup.“Qatar’s World Cup will be at the same level as Russia, or even better.”Although some will be cynical about him playing in Qatar, Eto’o is likely to prove a big draw for the many African fans working in Qatar.Many came to the Qatar Sports Club to cheer his arrival, decked out in Cameroon shirts and kissing posters of their hero.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more