Hillary Clinton warns of path to ‘fascism’ after British MPs stand down at the upcoming general election citing online threats.
A growing number of female British lawmakers announced that they have chosen to stand down at the upcoming general election citing the abuse they face in public office.
On a book tour in London, ex-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, warned that the United Kingdom is “on the path to fascism”.
Clinton told an audience at Kings College, London, that she took “very seriously” the news that more than 70 female MPs were choosing not to run in the upcoming general election on 13 December.
“If people are intimidated out of running for office in a democracy because of these hatemongers on the left or the right … that is the path [to] authoritarianism, that is the path [to] fascism.”
Female Conservative MPs are standing down at a higher rate than the average for all MPs. According to an analysis of retirement announcements so far by Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, (a British think tank), a higher share of female MPs originally elected as Tories are standing down, at a younger average age, than male Tories, and both male or female Labour MPs.
Among Tory ranks, the female MPs stepping down are on average 10 years younger and have spent a decade less in parliament than retiring male MPs.
Nicky Morgan, the Culture Secretary, leaving after the abuse she had received for doing her job, was part of an exodus of moderate Tory MPs who had announced that they were quitting,.
The former Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, is also among the moderate Tory MPs who have said they will not fight the election.
Meanwhile outgoing MP Heidi Allen told constituents she was “exhausted by the invasion into my privacy and the nastiness and intimidation that has become commonplace” in politics.
Other high-profile women to quit Parliament ahead of the election include Claire Perry, Margot James and Dame Caroline Spelman.
MPs face abuse on social media and in person for their stances on Brexit, and women on the front line of British politics have experienced an unnerving level of abuse — ranging from harassment to outright threats of rape and murder.
Earlier this year, London Metropolitan Police Chief, Cressida Dick told a parliamentary committee that officers had seen a “very considerable rise” in the number of threats received by MPs and that statistics showed crimes committed against politicians had doubled from 151 in 2017 to 341 in 2018.
Those targeted disproportionately are women and BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) MPs — across the political spectrum. Among those abused the most is Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who was the UK’s first female black lawmaker.
A report by Amnesty International found that ahead of the 2017 election, 45% of abusive tweets were aimed at her and amounted to an average of 51 abusive tweets a day.
“When I heard about all these people, particularly the women, who weren’t going to run again [as MPs], and they attributed it to the threats they are going to face, that is not only a threat to individuals, that is a threat to democracies,” Clinton added.