Hampshire MP reveals she ditched Twitter over relentless abuse online

AN MP has called on people to call out 'unacceptable' abuse online after she suspended her Twitter account over hateful comments.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 7:00 am
Flick Drummond MP in 2016. Picture: Malcolm Wells (160723-8485)

Former Portsmouth South MP, Flick Drummond, spoke in a debate in Westminster Hall about the online abuse women elected to political office receive.

The Meon Valley MP said Twitter had been useful but was now an intimidating place, and called on individuals to confront bad behaviour.

She said: ‘As we have heard, social media is getting out of hand, and it is intimidating.

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It was fine when Facebook and Twitter started—just 17 years ago for Facebook and two years later for Twitter.

‘I mention them as they are the most popular platforms, and have been useful for engagement in discussion—but no longer.

‘Like others, I have come off Twitter. There was no point in looking at comments designed to hurt one personally rather than deal with politics.’

Mrs Drummond spoke out about leaving the social media site yesterday, having done so last year.

She told The News the ‘relentlessness’ of the abuse saw her make the move, and she was ‘much happier without Twitter’.

In the debate, she said: ‘If a woman raises her head above the parapet, it triggers even more abuse, so many of us wonder whether it is worth talking about a controversial topic.

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‘That is stultifying discussion, especially given that the diversity of a woman’s perspective is often helpful.’

Mrs Drummond, who served as Portsmouth South representative from 2015-2017, said research by The Fawcett Society revealed abuse was putting off women entering politics.

A study found 74 per cent of women were unlikely to stand as an MP, up from 59 per cent in 2019.

Around 62 per cent of women were unlikely to stand as a councillor, up from 44 per cent. Of those, 69 per cent cited abuse or harassment from other parties and the public.

Mrs Drummond added: ‘It is not enough to say, “Toughen up. You should expect to be tough as a public person.” I have heard that before. We are tough as politicians, but we are also human beings. Many of us have families whom we want to protect as well as ourselves.’

She said: ‘I challenge every single person to confront this unacceptable behaviour, otherwise we will have to put further consequences in place to combat it.’

Labour's candidate for the Portsmouth North seat in 2019, Amanda Martin, previously spoke out about the 'hostility and personal attacks' she received in her unsuccessful campaign.

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