Hillary Clinton has warned that the number of British MPs intimidated out of running for office risks putting the country on a “path to fascism”.
Speaking to a London audience, the former US secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate said she took “very seriously” the fact that several female MPs had decided not to run again in the coming election, complaining of threats and abuse online.
“It comes after a series of female MPs from both the main parties chose to stand down at the general election,” reports The Times. Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, was among the “exodus” of moderate Tory MPs who said that they were quitting after suffering abuse, says the newspaper.
Clinton said: “When I heard about all these people, particularly the women, who weren’t going to run again, and they attributed it to the threats they are going to face, that is not only a threat to individuals, that is a threat to democracies.
“If people are intimidated out of running for office in a democracy because of these hatemongers on the left or the right… that is the path [to] authoritarianism, that is the path [to] fascism.”
In a wide-ranging conversation with the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard at King’s College London (KCL), Clinton described Brexit as “a symptom of some of the very real problems and disagreements that our democracies have”
“Gillard, who was Australian PM between 2010 and 2013, now chairs the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, which was set up at KCL last year to explore the underrepresentation of women in political leadership,” explains The Guardian.
Clinton told the audience: “Your country is about as divided as our country.”
She added that “at some point I hope that the UK can get back to really showing the kind of creativity and envisioning a future that is going to be good for all the people here and have positive effects all around the world”.
For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world – and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda – try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6
Clinton also spoke of Facebook’s failure to regulate political adverts, saying that “it will take money for and run advertisements that are blatantly false”.
She warned that “technology is outpacing our ability to keep up with it, to understand what is real and what is not, and I think this is not yet being addressed by our government, your government or any institution.”
Clinton said that in the absence of “at least a somewhat level playing field… all bets are off, and it’s going to be like the old wild west”.
Remembering internet regulations that her husband, then president Bill Clinton, ushered in, she said: “Nobody in 1995 or 1996 thought, ‘Oh my gosh, [the internet] is going to do this wonderful job of connecting us globally, but it’s also going to be a platform for hate and disinformation and the worst kinds of human venality’. We thought it was all good news.”
Instead, she added, “I think we now are in a struggle for the future of democracies.”