Greenock Telegraph 22nd October 2021

Following the murder of David Amess MP I was made aware of a comment on my twitter feed telling me in two words that I shouldn’t have any empathy with a Tory MP. And there was a comment on the First Minister’s twitter feed saying she should die.

Both comments were vile and thankfully in the minority. But we do have an increasing self-righteous horde of people that see nothing wrong with using spiteful language on social media. They mock and deride people like bullies in a primary school playground and see no consequences of their own actions.  

When we use language that is designed to demean and diminish individuals, there is always the danger the weak and the disenfranchised are empowered by that and may act upon it. We all have a duty to consider the consequences of our own actions. Who are you appealing to and will they act with restraint?

While we continue to allow behaviour on social media that we would not allow in person, we provide a safe harbour for these bullies and fantasists. This adds to their appetite for dehumanising other people and once you dehumanise someone then it’s more likely that they will be the target for abuse. Consequently, the perpetrators malevolence can fester and grow and occasionally it can even raise its ugly head in the real world. Often via a proxy.

I fear that following the murder of David Amess MP we will be temporarily shocked and make all the right noises about monitoring the media and mending our ways just as we did after the death of Jo Cox MP but in reality, nothing changed.

The internet is full of people with opinions and that’s a good thing. But we need to understand that at the receiving end, of what can often descend into abuse, is not just another digital device, it’s a person with family, friends and feelings. You won’t know their own personal circumstances, you don’t know if they are strong and able to cope with your opinions. We don’t know what drives a person to kill another human being but we can monitor our own media presence and ensure that the final straw was not of our own making.

Written question – Alcohol advertising [22/10/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to protect children from alcohol marketing on TV and digital spaces. (56541)

Tabled on: 15 October 2021

Julia Lopez:

UK Government has measures in place to protect children and young people from alcohol advertising. Material in the Committee of Advertising Practice and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice Codes (CAP and BCAP codes) relating to the advertising and marketing of alcohol products is exceptionally robust, recognising the social imperative of ensuring that alcohol advertising is responsible and in particular that children and young people are suitably protected. If new evidence emerges that clearly highlights major problems with the existing Codes, then the Advertising Standards Authority has a duty to revisit the Codes and take appropriate action.

The government also continues to work with the Portman Group, the social responsibility body and regulator for alcohol labelling, packaging and promotion in the UK. It operates its Codes of Practice to ensure that alcohol is marketed in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal particularly to those who are vulnerable people. The Codes are widely supported by the industry, with over 150 Code signatories including producers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and trade associations.

The answer was submitted on 22 Oct 2021 at 09:39.

Impact of post office closures on local communities

With the UK Budget approaching, now is the time for the UK Government to provide a multi-year subsidy for the Post Office so that Subpostmasters and communities, such as Inverclyde, have certainty and stability.

Closing Post Office branches can severely harm local communities, given many local businesses and the most vulnerable rely on it for access to cash and other services.

It’s important that the UK Government acts to create a healthy environment for the Post Office network so it can continue to provide a valuable contribution to our society.  This means providing the necessary funding and that Post Office Ltd agree to guarantee a minimum income for every Subpostmaster so their hard work pays off and running a Post Office becomes an attractive opportunity once again.