An open letter to the Spectator

Dear Mr Nelson,

Like many, we were appalled to read Rod Liddle’s recent column, in which (among other things) he called for Muslims to be prevented from voting, and mocked Rosie Duffield MP – who so courageously opened up about her own experiences of domestic abuse last month.

It wasn’t necessary for Rosie to do what she did, but by choosing to take that incredible step, she sent a powerful message to victims and survivors all around the country – hundreds of thousands of them including amongst your readership and your staff – that their experiences are real, and their voices are being heard by those in power. For her to be cruelly mocked for this, particularly in a week when we’ve seen women MPs standing down from office citing rising levels of harassment and abuse, is shameful. What message does that send to survivors, who have already been forced to wait even longer for the Domestic Abuse Bill?

We know columnists like Liddle personally benefit from being ‘provocative’. Perhaps he doesn’t even believe half of what he writes. But as the editor of a major publication, you must recognise that you are in a position of power. Words have an impact, and the tone of public discourse has real-world consequences. So why make the choice to perpetuate these racist and misogynistic attitudes? We thank Isabel Hardman for her statement today, and for her continuing support of domestic abuse survivors.

When Rosie Duffield stood up to make her speech in the House of Commons, she did it because she knew that victims and survivors were watching and listening. Perhaps it’s time The Spectator remembered and responded to that too.

Suzanne Jacob OBE
Chief Executive, SafeLives