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Civility in our democracy

Director of the Catholic Union, Nigel Parker, writes:

I was watching the announcement of the results of the by-elections this week and reflecting that, for at least those few moments, there is a valuable element of courtesy in the proceedings. The candidates thank the Returning Officer and unsuccessful candidates shake hands with the winner.

The contrast between democracies and autocratic regimes in the way that those in power deal with political opponents was highlighted yesterday in the dreary sense of inevitability surrounding the death in a Siberian prison camp of Alexei Navalny.

The elements of civility in our democracy cannot be taken for granting and need nurturing. If any proof of that were needed after the murder of Jo Cox, it was provided in the most brutal way by the murder of Catholic MP Sir David Amess.

We are also told of MPs regularly reporting threats of death or sexual violence and that 88% of local councillors surveyed in 2022 had experienced abuse and intimidation. That is why the Catholic Union has endorsed the helpful and practical recommendations of the Jo Cox Civility Commission in its recently published Call to Action.

The Catholic Union also has its part to play in the way that we act and report on politics, arguing strongly but keeping to the facts and presenting information fairly. Thanks to all those who support us in this work.