One Labour MP was given police protection while others faced death threats, abuse and intimidation after they voted in favour of the UK launching airstrikes in Syria in the House of Commons on Wednesday, prompting concern over this new turn in British politics.
Labour Unity, a hard-left group linked to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, released a ‘traitor list’ of 66 party MPs who voted in favour of the government motion. Corbyn has also been criticised for saying that MPs supporting military action would have ‘no hiding place’.
Some Labour MPs received death threats as well as gruesome images posted through their letterboxes, while MP Nick Coyle was given police protection after being threatened by an anti-war activist.
Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary who made an impassioned speech backing air strikes, was subjected to online threats, including being told he will “never walk the streets of Leeds unprotected again”.
As the level of abuse and threats rose after the vote, Corbyn sent an email to party members, saying that the party will not accept abuse and intimidation “from whatever quarter it comes”.
Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who opposed air strikes, called for a new code of conduct to curb abuse, while Scotland Yard confirmed it was assessing a number of online threats relating to MPs.
Besides abuse online and through post, Labour MPs have been threatened with ‘deselection’.
Campaign group Stop the War, which until recently was chaired by Corbyn, said: “Stop the War condemns the whining complaints from those MPs who apparently do not like being lobbied”.
It added: “If an MP is not robust enough to withstand emails and tweets, they should really not be voting for bombing other people — those who wish to be alone with their consciences would do better to consider a life of religious contemplation. Stop the War will continue to hold to democratic account all those MPs who vote for war.”