‘NOBODY in any job should have to put up with threats, aggressive emails, being shouted at in the street, sworn at on social media, nor have to install panic alarms at home,” said the MP Heidi Allen last week.

Ms Allen has had enough of the toxicity and intimidation which has become all too commonplace in politics. Like a number of other female MPs, she is standing down.

The forthcoming General Election election on December 12 may become defining for a number of reasons but the exodus of women with much to offer shames our political environment.

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I may disagree profoundly with the political views of Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Louise Ellman or other MPs prematurely quitting frontline politics. But this isn’t about party stripes and partisanship. It is about decency, democratic representation and being able to go about your business as a politician without fear for your personal safety.

The pressure some female MPs have been put under makes for grim reading. One man has been jailed for a plot to murder Labour’s Rosie Cooper; several people have been convicted for making threats to the LibDems’ Luciana Berger and her family; and a number of men have been jailed for threatening other female MPs.

The constant stream of threats and abuse, online or in person, are far too numerous to mention. The Prime Minister himself has been criticised for dismissing as “humbug” concerns expressed by a female MP about his use of inflammatory language.

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We cannot, however, pretend this is something solely about Westminster and Brexit.

I had many sleepless nights while in opposition preparing for how

I would approach the role of leader of Glasgow City Council if elected; the policies, the personnel, the changes, and how I would cope with the demands on myself and my family.

What I and several colleagues weren’t prepared for was the level intimidation which required police visits to our homes and offices advising on threats and personal safety, right down to using public transport and how we move about the city carrying out our jobs. Things change when confronted with people whose desire to cause you harm leads to legal action and conviction. This can put an intolerable strain on elected members who live in the heart of the communities they serve. Often working alone and at night, the stress they are placed under threatens the very fabric of democracy in communities which need representation most.

We have already been forced to cancel surgeries, to issues members with advice when meeting constituents and to alert police to instances of threats and abuse.

Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook have become vital campaign tools for politicians and for those groups and individuals who want to influence their decisions. They allow easy sharing of news and information and, used properly, can be a positive addition to the democratic process.

However, as frequent controversies make clear, they can also have a very negative impact, especially when those behind the posts are anonymous and their motivations are concealed.

In Glasgow, as elsewhere, councillors and other democratically elected representatives have to contend with the emergence of anonymous social media accounts which have the sole intention of intimidating, harassing and demeaning them.

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From the safety of anonymity, they align themselves with the extremes of our society. Words have consequences and it is right that such accounts are also brought to the police’s attention.

Those who feed, who encourage and who amplify these accounts are as guilty as the trolls themselves for the harassment, fear and alarm elected members and council staff going about their jobs are subjected to. Given some of the recent incidents there have been in Glasgow and elsewhere in the UK, it is inconceivable that they are unaware of the potential consequences.

No-one who enters politics is under any illusion about the robust nature of the business they are in or the scrutiny they place themselves under. We are all here to do the job of serving the city we love.

But we are in a dangerous place. The strides made in building diversity in our councils and parliaments could be rolled back as a culture takes root where voices, especially women’s voices, are forced from politics. Personalised abuse, online threats and the fear of physical violence has understandably proven too much for some. We will all be poorer for it.