Clydesdale MPs tell of death threats

Lisa Cameron and Angela Crawley elected MPs in 2015
Lisa Cameron and Angela Crawley elected MPs in 2015

Clydesdale MP Lisa Cameron has revealed that she and her family have been subjected to online abuse including being sent a picture of a beheaded corpse.

And the East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP’s Lanark and Hamilton East colleague, Angela Crawley, has also hit out at internet trolls targeting female members of Parliament with the modern-day version of poison-pen letters.

She says she received a death threat even before she was elected as an MP while standing for the Scottish National Party during the last UK general election campaign.

Dr Cameron and Miss Crawley have told of their ordeals as part of a UK-wide survey of female MPs revealing that more than half had been the victim of physical threats or verbal abuse.

Now Dr Cameron says she has been put in fear of her life following abusive messages, one of them containing a graphic image of a beheaded body along with a death threat.

That particular message is now the subject of a police investigation, she said.

She added that several other threats had been made against her and her family, including her children.

The two local MPs have in common the fact that they both got into Westminster at the 2015 UK general election.

However, both feel their gender, rather than politics, accounts for much of the abuse they suffer.

Miss Crawley said: “As a female MP, it often feels like I should expect to receive abuse as part of the role.

“My first experience of abuse as a politician took place before I was even elected, when during my election campaign someone threatened to shoot me.

“I reported this incident to the police. The complaint was taken seriously at the time, but now, after the death of Jo Cox, it would have been considered a major incident with greater repercussions. Online abuse of female MPs is rife.

“After my maiden speech, I received an anonymous email referring to my physical appearance and weight.

“This is not the sort of language directed towards male MPs and is made all too easy by the anonymity of the internet.

“When I highlighted the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed people in Daesh-controlled Syria and Iraq, I was subject to a number of homophobic tweets and comments in online news articles.

“These are just a few of the examples. As a female MP, if you stick up for something you care about, you’ll have it undermined by anonymous bullies not for the substance of your argument, but because of the way you look.

“Female MPs are also subject to misogyny in the workplace. Westminster was built for men only and has never really adapted to women as members, either in its processes or its facilities.

“Everyday sexism is something faced by women across the UK on a day-to-day basis. That is no different for an MP, a schoolgirl, female students or women in the workplace.

“It has to stop and it must be challenged.”

Dr Cameron, a former hospital consultant, added: “There have been difficult times in which I have experienced death threats and online hostility.

“The NHS had very good security policies. What was stark for me was the absence of similar policies mitigating risks faced by members of Parliament.”