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26 September 2019updated 09 Sep 2021 12:50pm

As the daughter of an MP, I know why Boris Johnson’s language is so dangerous

If our politics doesn’t change, I am terrified that something awful will happen again.  

By Ellie Cooper

Ellie Cooper is the daughter of Yvette Cooper MP. This piece has been adapted from her Twitter thread with permission. 

I rarely actually tweet, especially about politics — I am more of a silent retweeter — but after the chilling scenes in parliament last night I can’t stay quiet anymore. There’s a group of young people and children that need to be spoken for. 

The language used by our Prime Minister — not a far-right populist or a provocative journalist, but our Prime Minister — is simply beyond words. That the head of our government is using language which helps incite violence toward MPs is so dangerous that I can’t even comprehend it in a modern society. 

This isn’t funny anymore. Whatever egotistical game Boris Johnson has been playing since he was at Eton, this isn’t entitled teenagers standing blindly by their positions in an attempt to one-up their friends anymore. 

The tide of rising hatred is costing people their lives. I was 17 when Jo Cox was murdered. I had called my mum, who is Yvette Cooper, on my way home from school to complain about the usual things and I distinctly remember her interrupting me to say “An MP’s been shot.”

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I can honestly say my perspective of the world completely changed that day. Before then, my mum’s job was something that kept her working later then bedtime when I was a kid, the source of embarrassing conversations at school, the reason we travelled to and fro between Yorkshire and London every week for the first two-thirds of my life. It was never something that could get her killed.

I am scared. I am scared when I scroll through the replies to her tweets calling her a liar and a traitor. I am scared when our house gets fitted with panic buttons, industrial-locking doors and explosive bags to catch the mail.

I am scared because on 16 June 2016, two children said goodbye to their mother before she left for her constituency — to sit in surgeries and help people all day — and never saw her again. I am scared every single day that the same will happen to my mum. Because she is trying her best to help people, to make their lives better. Even if we disagree with our politicians, when was this something we actively wanted to hurt them for?

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Of course Brexit is contentious. Of course people have strong opinions, opinions that will inevitably come into conflict when trying to work out how best to reflect an outcome that split our country in two. But what we need now is a prime minister who can stand up and say “Yes I want to deliver Brexit, but regardless of my position, this inflammatory and aggressive language needs to stop. We need to treat each other with humanity and respect.” 

Boris Johnson, take a stand. It’s your job to unite the country, or you will be responsible for putting other people’s lives at risk. Surely you can raise your head out of the sand enough to see that much? 

This whole thing has gone too far. When people start getting hurt, that is the moment we should step back and ask if any of this is even worth it. All the anger and the screaming and the taking sides. The traitors and the liars and the surrendering.

Why has this become a matter of life and death? Does someone have to die for us all to realise that we have gotten in far too deep and far too aggressively? But of course, someone has already died. Do we not have the decency and compassion to see that? Can we not simply treat each other like people again?

I’m terrified that if we don’t, something awful will happen again. At this point, that appears to be the only thing that could stop us in our tracks. We need to change the way we act towards our MPs before it goes too far — because if not, I have no doubt it will.