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Sir David Amess death: Rochester MP Kelly Tolhurst tells of abuse

Ordinary people will stop wanting to enter politics because of the level of abuse aimed at those in parliament.

That's according to MP Kelly Tolhurst who says politicians have become "fair game" for vitriol which goes beyond normal criticism.

Kelly Tolhurst giving a statement in parliament
Kelly Tolhurst giving a statement in parliament

She revealed people have posted things on social media about her such as "shoot her" and "I hope she gets runover".

She was also abused when she couldn't make a meeting earlier this year despite explaining she was going to hospital to see her terminally-ill dad.

Although bad, she says this is "nothing" compared to the level of attacks some colleagues have faced.

The Tory was speaking following the death of Southend MP Sir David Amess at a surgery on Friday lunchtime.

Ms Tolhurst, who has represented Rochester and Strood since 2015, says she was left stunned by some online comments about his stabbing.

A candle and a photo of Sir David Amess greeted mourners at a vigil in Essex. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA
A candle and a photo of Sir David Amess greeted mourners at a vigil in Essex. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

She said: "I read some of the stuff on there and thought 'does someone really deserve to die for doing their job?'

"Do people out there really think that?"

Although the exact circumstances surrounding Sir David's death are still being investigated, Ms Tolhurst says it's become routine to vilify MPs.

She added: "It's just become acceptable to speak about us like this.

"People think we're fair game; that we're not human and some of the abuse you get is disgusting, they see us as an easy target – part of the establishment which they can easily reach.

Kelly Tolhurst MP
Kelly Tolhurst MP

"One person put on social media 'just shoot' her about me and another said 'I hope she gets runover'. I like to think I am robust and tough, but what have I done to deserve that?

"You expect a bit of grief, but some of what my colleagues have to put up with is crazy."

She warned that ordinary people will continue to be put off entering politics because of the aggression directed at them.

She said: "I have friends asking me why I do the job, and I know people will look at entering politics and think 'I don't need that hassle'."

Cracking down on online anonymity would be a start, she said: "If you're going to make a death threat, let's see who you really are."

House of Commons
House of Commons

The former Medway councillor added that the abuse comes from a hardcore minority and most people are civil and helpful.

She said: "People who are the most in need; those who are the most desperate, are usually the most courteous and grateful you're trying to help."

But because parliament is presented as being so adversarial, the public don't have an informed view of it.

"Most, if not all, MPs are normal people who come from normal jobs and are not out of touch.

"You can't be an MP and be out of touch because you're meeting so many people from all backgrounds all of the time."

Her wish is that people stop focussing on personalities and look at the work being done in parliament on their behalf.

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