Friday, June 17, 2016

Quote of the day

"When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn round and say, 'Mate, you weren't supposed to take it so seriously. It's just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.

When you shout 'BREAKING POINT' over and over again, you don't get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don't be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn't make them do it, no, but you didn't do much to stop it either.

Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they're too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they're not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen."

In the wake of the shocking murder of MP Jo Cox yesterday, the Spectator's Alex Massie argues that it's not just the suspect who has blood on his hands. Polly Toynbee makes much the same point in a Guardian article - but it's not a viewpoint shared by the Mail and the Sun, both of which went with the "crazed loner" angle and thereby completely ignored the context, effectively washing their hands of any culpability.

Massie isn't the only person to have written powerfully and eloquently on the tragedy. Brendan Cox somehow found sufficient composure to pay touching tribute to his wife, stressing that it is now important to honour her life and what she stood for by uniting "to fight against the hatred that killed her". I want to believe that might happen, but sadly I don't hold out much hope.

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