THE use of language matters in politics – what politicians say in public can either calm or inflame, and our choice of words can have direct and lasting impacts on people’s lives. That’s why the use of terms such as “scourge” and “invasion” is so dangerous when talking about people arriving at our shores seeking asylum and refuge.

Decades of vitriol spewed out by the right-wing media and the capture of the Conservative Party by extremists have led to the point where our Home Secretary wouldn’t sound out of place speaking at an Oswald Mosley rally.

There is no doubt in my mind that this constant drip of poison in public discourse has led directly to the radicalisation of thousands of people against an imagined enemy.

I’m not saying that Suella Braverman and her ilk are directly responsible for Andrew Leak firebombing an asylum centre in Dover on Sunday. But using the language of war does nothing to dissuade violence.

This terrorist attack by a radicalised pensioner on a state-run prison camp should have been a watershed moment, but it was discussed for little more than a news cycle. Far from tempering language, Braverman doubled down on her fascist-like rhetoric at the dispatch box, sounding more like a BNP extremist than a holder of one of the great offices of state.

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Over the past number of years, I have spoken in many debates on immigration and more so recently with my spokesperson role. During this time, I have been conscious that I’ve been witnessing a steady ramping up of right-wing rhetoric from the Tories and an abandonment of any real opposition from the Labour Party.

A minister will throw out a phrase in an interview and that will be parroted by the backbenchers and amplified 100 times on social media. None of it is happening by accident.

This week, my critique of Braverman’s comments was met with some of the most disgusting racist and personal attacks online that I have had to endure in my time as an MP and without doubt, the language and tenor of the Home Secretary give implied permission and encouragement for this behaviour.

I am not naive; I’ve always held a realistic view of the Tory Party, and that’s me being diplomatic because I don’t want my language to be inflammatory either. But at least there always used to be a veil of feigned civility to try and portray their xenophobia as something else.

The mask has not only slipped but been proudly removed, and so many – although not all of them – now wear their anti-immigrant hatefulness as a badge of honour.

One of the most disappointing things though is that as the Government lurches further to the right, the official Labour opposition doesn’t put up a fight but seems to spot a “gap in the market” and tries to occupy the centre-right. They should be using their influential position, to tell the truth.

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And the truth is that the anti-immigrant and economically disastrous Brexit policies of this government are hurting the people of this country every day.

The truth is that the vast majority of people crossing the channel on small boats are running from war and persecution, not just doing a Dick Whittington and setting off to see if London’s streets are paved with gold.

The truth is that the UK takes a tiny proportion of the world’s asylum seekers compared to equivalent-sized European countries and a minuscule proportion compared to developing countries like Bangladesh.

Instead of telling those truths, they produce mugs celebrating their anti-immigrant stance. Labour leader Keir Starmer says there is “not a great deal” between them and the Tories on immigration, and Labour MPs talk of making life just as difficult for asylum seekers – but being more efficient at it.

Hardly surprising when one of their number, former immigration minister Liam Byrne was quoted in 2007 as saying: “What we are proposing here will, I think, flush illegal migrants out. We are trying to create a much more hostile environment in this country if you are here illegally.”

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I will be looking to secure a debate on this very topic in the near future. We must dial back the rhetoric and insert humanity into the conversation. We are seeing far too many people who will have brought their children up to not believe everything they read, totally radicalised by the lies and the hate they’ve read online and in our media.

The result of this is that many politicians are now trying to pander to the monster they helped create and the escalation of violent right-wing extremism is inevitable.

And it’s all based on lies. The number of people arriving on small boats in a single year would only fill half of Hampden Park.

If you’re in a burning building and your only option in order to survive is to jump, you jump. People are jumping, they are literally fleeing, but they can’t apply to flee here because there is no method for doing so – the drawbridge is up.

These are the facts people need to be armed with, and I appeal to everyone reading this to find out more. Get the facts and pass them on because the lies and rhetoric flying about right now must be challenged, and it’s incumbent on all decent people to do that.