THE Dean of Portsmouth has called on councillors to stop using ‘aggressive’ language in political leaflets in wake of the death of Labour MP Jo Cox.
The Very Reverend David Brindley said he is disturbed by literature he has received from city political parties which refer to how they will ‘fight’ on his behalf.
I know it’s a metaphor, but there are people who take it literally, people such as the murderer of Jo Cox, and the people who according to the press at the weekend have threatened Nigel Farage’s daughters.Dean of Portsmouth, The Very Reverend David Brindley
He said the use of the word is inappropriate – as it has been taken ‘literally’ by the killer of Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in her constituency.
Mr Brindley also referred to threats against Nigel Farage’s family.
But the Tories say the senior religious leader’s comments are ‘hard to take seriously’ when the church is not leading by example and uses similar language.
But other parties agree more care needs to be taken what is put out in leaflets.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of all council members, Mr Brindley said: ‘It has been a remarkable few weeks in politics and, whichever side of the Brexit vote you are on, we have to acknowledge that there is uncertainty. The turmoil seems to have pushed the murder of Jo Cox to the back of our minds.
‘I want us to remember her today, but also want to ask you to do something in her memory.
‘I want to ask you to stop using the word fight. Almost every political leaflet which drops through my door, from whatever party, tells me that you will fight on my behalf.
‘I know it’s a metaphor, but there are people who take it literally, people such as the murderer of Jo Cox, and the people who threatened Nigel Farage’s daughters.’
Senior Tory cabinet member, Cllr Jim Fleming, said: ‘Mr Brindley raised some important points about language used in political debate.
‘However, when the church itself is still using words like ‘fight’, in its own news stories, it’s difficult, to take it seriously, if an organisation isn’t prepared to lead by example.’
Cllr Fleming referred to the church’s ‘fight’ against human trafficking and gender justice.
Labour leader, Cllr John Ferrett, said: ‘Mr Brindley is right. We do use that word in a metaphorical sense. There is some pretty vicious stuff out there at the moment.
‘We have seen it in the Labour Party because of the current leadership taking place, but also in the EU referendum, where a lack of restraint was being exhibited much of the time.’
Lib Dem leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, added: ‘He has made a good point. It’s sensible to think about this.’