Argy bargy

Image: Angyalosi Beata/

LAST week Matt Hancock was filmed being pushed and harassed by an angry member of the public.

Now while I think most people would probably admit to having some fairly dark thoughts about politicians some days, very few would agree that this behavior came anywhere near to being acceptable.

Apart from anything else, by resorting to violence, Geza Tarjanyi, the man who shoved Hancock at a tube station, he ended up inciting sympathy for the former health secretary; something which he surely can’t have been trying to achieve.

Engaging in debate in some sort of meaningful way at a local event might have been a better way to go if what Tarjanyi really wanted was a chance of in some way holding Hancock to account.

When I first worked in parliament, I shared an office with a Liberal Democrat lord whose researcher had died saving him from a knife attacker.

Later, in the Commons, I worked in the office next to an MP who still had scars on his hands from when a woman had attacked him with a knife at a constituency surgery.

In another MP’s office I worked in a colleague had to be physically scrubbed down by a team in hazmat suits after opening a letter containing what looked like anthrax.

It later turned out to be talcum powder and was part of a series sent to various MP’s offices but it certainly wasn’t a good day for my colleague.

In recent years, Jo Cox and David Amess haven’t been as lucky in the threats against their lives.

The repeated, almost casual, reminders of violence against politicians I came across even in my short time in Parliament is a reminder that this isn’t always quite the cushy career we often consider it.

We all criticise politicians. We all think we can do better. Sometimes (even often) we’re right.

But when we start to look at them a whole different breed of human beings from us, and consider behavior we would normally never engage in as being acceptable, like Tarjanyi, we start the descent down an extremely slippery slope that ends in tragedy more often than we’re perhaps aware of.

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Written by

Sally Underwood

Sally Underwood is a former aide to several former cabinet members and now contributes her views on Parliament’s ever-changing shape in her column for the Euro Weekly News.