OPINION: The mob is revelling in its ability to incite chaos on our streets

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OPINION: The mob is revelling in its ability to incite chaos on our streets

It is long past time for the authorities to make it clear enough is enough – before, God forbid, a dangerous situation gets even worse.

“From the river to the sea” hate slogan projected onto Big Ben.
“From the river to the sea” hate slogan projected onto Big Ben.

On Wednesday evening, a baying mob gathered outside Parliament.

The Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben, is synonymous in many people’s minds with the Houses of Parliament which stands next to it. The mob projected a message onto that tower; the infamous “From the river to the sea” hate slogan.

That action was intended to send a very clear message to Parliamentarians; that even in the heart of Westminster, the anti-Israel mob rules. In the meantime, over the course of a tumultuous day, there was significant focus on the threats that MPs have been receiving on the issue of Gaza.

We have all seen examples of this since October 7th. The explosion in antisemitism has been accompanied by targeted efforts intended to intimidate our elected officials. Conservative and Labour MPs have been particular targets.

It would be wrong to say that such threats are new. In December 2015, a new plan to protect MPs called Operation Bridger was put in place by police, after the Parliamentary debate on airstrikes against ISIS strongholds in Syria. In 2016, a far-right terrorist murdered Jo Cox, and in 2021 an Islamist terrorist murdered Sir David Amess (later citing the Syria airstrikes as a motive).

Hizb-ut-Tahrir protest in London in the wake of 7/10.

It does, however, seem that general attempts to intimidate MPs have risen significantly since October 7th. Protests accusing MPs of condoning the murder of children in Gaza have been held outside constituency offices.

Other such offices have been defaced. Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, the constituency with the highest percentage of Jews in the country, is standing down at the next election, citing death threats for supporting Israel. Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, is currently being targeted by a concentrated campaign.

A poster for this weekend’s demonstration outside his constituency office shows a picture of him against a backdrop of the red Labour party banner dripping blood. “Picket Wes Streeting: Labour Party Defends Genocide”, the poster says. It also calls for “Victory to the Intifada”.

The police initiated Operation Bridger on Monday night, when scores of anti-Israel activists turned up outside the house of Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, when the MP and his children were inside.

Another Labour MP, who I will not name, told me of the behaviour of “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators outside her constituency office, screaming and banging on the windows. She went outside to talk to them. “Protest if you want”, she told them, “but please don’t bang on the windows. I have a constituency surgery – vulnerable people are coming to see me, including people who are directly affected by what’s going on in Gaza. Your banging on the windows is deeply disturbing to them.” I will leave it up to you to guess whether the demonstrators stopped.

All of this sort of behaviour goes well beyond democratic accountability.

Ultimately, it will be up to MPs, together with their party’s leadership, to decide what must be done in this regard. There has already been some discussion of legislating to ban protests outside MPs constituency offices – if this is to be introduced, it seems obvious that a similar ban should exist on demonstrating outside MPs homes. Constituency surgeries are clearly a point of vulnerability, while also being a key part of an MPs role.

In the wake of the tragic murders of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess, MPs have rightly been offered additional security, including panic buttons, additional locks, toughened glass and even bomb-proof letterboxes. After the death of Sir David, MPs were offered trained security protection when undertaking constituency surgeries. If such protection has been allowed to lapse, then it should be renewed.

Daniel Sugarman

If you want to persuade your MP of something, write to them, or make an appointment to see them and put your point to them courteously. If you feel that they refuse to listen, you have the option of campaigning to help unseat them at the next election. People should not feel that they have a God-given right to scream their heads off outside an MPs office or their home – whether about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or any other issue.

But there is also a more general point to be made here. At the moment, it feels to many as if the police are paralysed in their ability to properly respond to this activity. The organisers of these marches are openly revelling in their ability to bring chaos to our streets.

In an impassioned speech to the House of Commons yesterday, Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, summed up the situation

“For months I’ve been standing up here, talking about the people on our streets [who have been] demanding ‘death to Jews’, demanding ‘Jihad’, demanding ‘Intifadas’, as the police stand by and allow that to happen.”

It is long past time for the authorities here to make it clear that enough is enough – before, God forbid, the situation here gets even worse.


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