The BBC political editor told me last year she was sorry about the abuse I received. How saddening that she now needs her own bodyguardby Gina Miller / September 28, 2017 / Leave a comment
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” has been a stock response to verbal bullying since the 1860s. It may be a little antiquated but it is one of the phrases I have often encouraged women to take courage from, as I have given talks up and down the country. I have talked of standing fast and being courageous if they are saying or doing something they believe is right. “Let the name calling, whispers behind their backs, jeers and sneers wash over you.” That was until the torrent of abuse I received after my Article 50 challenge against the government last year. A torrent of the ugliest words constructed into venomous sentences that made me question the Britain I live in. I realised that the line between words and physical violence can fast become blurred.
Laura Kuenssberg interviewed me after my High Court win and as I was leaving the set she said, in a whispered tone, words to the effect of being sorry about the abuse I was getting, that it was not just about me as it goes with the territory, that it was normal. These sentiments have been repeated to me by female politicians who have security at their weekly surgeries or at hustings, female journalists, presenters and experts; even the female lawyers and QCs connected with my case were singled out for “special” treatment.
As I read with great sadness and solidarity that Laura herself now has security due to the severity of threats against her, the question is—what has she done to deserve this abuse? She is an award-winning journalist who has risen from local radio reporter to the first female political editor of the BBC. This appointment has cracked the glass-ceiling in news media, and she should be celebrated as a role model. She is a woman who is doing her job of asking politicians difficult questions (that they can be all too eager to evade), being sceptical and reporting her findings to the nation. The answer is therefore that Laura has been doing her job.