In the wake of 'milkshake' attacks on candidates in the EU elections and political spats and name-calling over Brexit, we asked our three MPs if they believed that politics has become too nasty...

John Woodcock

Milkshaking is bad.

It doesn’t matter if it is done to someone you don’t like, even someone who can be accused of inciting violence them self.

We have to rise above, and we have to show that we can be better than that.

It is demeaning for our country if we end up in a situation where political debate can be disrupted at any moment by a physical act, even when it is something as silly as throwing a milkshake.

It shuts down people’s right to be heard and could very easily turn sinister in the hands of people who would use attacks on the likes of Nigel Farage or ‘Tommy Robinson’ as an excuse to intimidate people.

And let’s not forget that more serious political violence is not an abstract fear.

Three years ago my friend and fellow MP Jo Cox was killed by a far right extremist outside her surgery as she went about her job serving her constituents.

More recently a plot to behead West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper was foiled by a brave undercover activist.

Many other people who put themselves forward to represent their community receive regular death threats.

We must stand firm against any attempt to intimidate people for their views, and that starts with salted caramel beverages.

By the way, if I had just paid a fiver for a milkshake there is no way a drop of it would be spilt.

Tim Farron

There can be no doubt that politics has become far too nasty. The scenes we have seen over recent weeks and months of politicians, whether it be Anna Soubry or Jacob Rees Mogg, being intimidated and harassed on the streets are nothing short of shameful.

In football, a player can be sent off the pitch for violent conduct or ‘using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards another player’. If a footballer attacks another player rather than the ball, they are disciplined. This is an accepted and acceptable approach to a game where passions run high.

By all means play the ball (whether that’s Brexit, the EU itself) with a passion. But if you go for another player, you deserve a red card.

When debates descend into physical and verbal intimidation, we are truly plumbing the depths of emotive black and white politics. There is a fine line between loyalty and blind tribalism. Tribalism can lead us to treat people outside our tribe as worthy of – and responsible for – every calamity that we can imagine, escalated in our minds to a level of desperate wickedness.

Ultimately this is not something that we can fully legislate on. Life is not a football match. There are important debates being held around the extent and limits of freedom of speech versus the importance of protecting individuals from intimidation. But the way that we behave towards one another comes down to individual choices. It is about responsibility and civility. It is about valuing each other’s humanity, respecting opposing views and remembering how to disagree well.

We need to relegate the extremists to the fringes and move back towards a more civilised politics.

Trudy Harrison

I often used to tell my children when they were younger: “If you can’t say anything nice then it’s better to say nothing at all.” This was particularly so during fraught meal times. Having four daughters has taught me much about relationships, and the importance of being civil, indeed being pleasant and choosing ones battles – especially important during the teenage years.

Those parenting skills come in handy in this current role and I’m pleased that despite the many differences of opinion, even amongst my Conservative colleagues, I have retained good terms and maintain strong relationships, cross-party, especially with my Cumbrian parliamentarian colleagues. I don’t think any politician seeks to do harm to their community, we just have different ideas about how to achieve a better world.

When I was initially selected by the Conservative Party during late January 2017, ahead of the by-election that February, it shocked me to learn that members of my own family and friends had a different opinion of who I was, and what I seemingly now stood for.

In my mind I hadn’t changed at all - still the same fun-loving Trudy, who loved her community - but I was in for a shock. Politics is a contact sport, nothing could have prepared me for that.

If there was a potion for a thicker skin, then I’d have made a bulk purchase.

As a mum, daughter and wife I know that my career choices now impact on my closest family, but we’re all coming to terms with our new normal and the overwhelming majority of people are good, decent and appreciative folks who I’m very proud to serve.

What do you think? Leave your comments below...