Tracy Brabin struck back against online trolls who criticised her for baring her shoulder in Parliament.
Was it just a distraction from a very serious question?
Tracy Brabin, Labour member of Parliament (MP) and shadow culture secretary, received abuse on social media after her shoulder became exposed during a debate in the House of Commons on Monday.
One Twitter user questioned whether her outfit was “appropriate attire” for Parliament.
Brabin responded by tweeting her surprise that anyone “could get so emotional over a shoulder.”
The MP also wrote: “Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not…. A slag. Hungover. A tart. About to breastfeed. A slapper. Drunk. Just been banged over a wheelie bin.”
Her retort received widespread support, with over 100,000 people liking her tweet.
Hello. Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not….
About to breastfeed
Just been banged over a wheelie bin.
Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder… ? https://t.co/sTWWiEY2TF
— Tracy Brabin MP ? (@TracyBrabin) February 4, 2020
Tracy Brabin’s point of order is more important, she was addressing a very serious issue that is now been overlooked.
Brabin was raising a point of order in the Commons on Downing Street’s decision to order senior journalists from some of the UK’s major news organisations to leave before a briefing on Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans.
Addressing MPs, she said: “The ability of the lobby to have access to briefings without favour is a longstanding tradition, and one vital to the health of a functioning democracy.
“The government’s behaviour in these matters threatens the civil service’s core values of impartiality and objectivity. It also brings into question the integrity of future government media briefings and the conduct of their special advisers, and it damages a free and vibrant press, which is central to this parliamentary democracy.”
Freedom and the Media: A Downward Spiral
Tracy Brabin’s full statement is a very important statement it addresses the right journalist to question the government a fundamental right in any free democracy. That freedom and Free Press is part of the Covenant between the Press, the government and the people allowing access to ministers and MPs without such scrutiny we step closer to fascism in its truest sense staring with suppression of Media freedom, including freedom of the press, it is the principal platform for ensuring role as an observer and informer of the public opinion on government actions allowing the public to hold them to account.
The fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack, and part of the assault has come from an unexpected source. Elected leaders in many democracies, who should be press freedom’s staunchest defenders, have made explicit attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that serve up favourable coverage. The trend is linked to a global decline in democracy itself: The erosion of press freedom is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.
According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World data, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade, with new forms of repression taking hold in open societies and authoritarian states alike. The trend is most acute in Europe, previously a bastion of well-established freedoms, and in Eurasia and the Middle East, where many of the world’s worst dictatorships are concentrated. If democratic powers cease to support media independence at home and impose no consequences for its restriction abroad, the free press corps could be in danger of virtual extinction.
Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished, and it is never too late to renew the demand that these rights be granted in full.
Attacks on press freedom in democracies
In some of the most influential democracies in the world, large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence. Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information. The goal is to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.
The problem has arisen in tandem with right-wing populism, which has undermined basic freedoms in many democratic countries. Populist leaders present themselves as the defenders of an aggrieved majority against liberal elites and ethnic minorities whose loyalties they question, and argue that the interests of the nation—as they define it—should override democratic principles like press freedom, transparency, and open debate.
Among Free countries in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, 19 percent (16 countries) have endured a reduction in their press freedom scores over the past five years. This is consistent with a key finding of Freedom in the World—that democracies in general are undergoing a decline in political rights and civil liberties. It has become painfully apparent that a free press can never be taken for granted, even when democratic rule has been in place for decades.
Tracy Brabin full point of order
“On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am seeking your advice on an urgent and important matter. This afternoon, accredited lobby journalists based here in the House of Commons were denied access to an important briefing with David Frost, the Prime Minister’s Europe adviser on post-Brexit trade plans. David Frost is a civil servant and therefore his briefing on the most prominent issue of the day is supposed to be neutral and not political.
The issue of post-Brexit trade plans is one of great public concern, and access to a high-level briefing should not be hand-picked by Government and political advisers. The exclusion of some publications led to every major national broadcaster and newspaper walking out.”
I know that all Members of this House will agree that lobby journalists’ access to Government is vital for a functioning and healthy democracy, and this latest deterioration in relations between the Government and the lobby is deeply concerning.
Members are also aware, Madam Deputy Speaker, of your commitment to improving the culture in this place, and pass-holding lobby journalists are part of our community. Therefore, what advice can you offer me as to how Members might be able to formally raise this issue with the Government and ensure that this does not become commonplace?
Brabin has also spoken out against sexism in politics before, accusing some activists from her own party of trying to run deselection campaigns targeting female MPs that displayed an “element of misogyny”, shortly before the most recent general election. At the time, the party denied allegations women were being unfairly targeted.