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If you can’t stand the Twitter hate, get out of the kitchen. Says Prue Leith

Blog | By Prue Leith | Feb 20, 2024

Question Time spat: Pidcock v Leith

Most of the time, I have a very easy time of it on social media, with tweeters being nice about my colourful necklaces or glasses, or liking my cooking hacks.

But I’ve occasionally had doses of toxic hate. Once because I suggested on Question Time that Laura Pidcock, Jeremy Corbyn’s loquacious supporter, give it a rest so the panel could answer the question, which was about house-building. I was accused of being indifferent to the homeless and an uncaring Tory bitch. That’s a bit rich – I’ve voted Conservative only twice in 60 years: once for John Major, in the election when Tony Blair got in, and last time, to my shame, for Johnson.

Another time, my son, Danny Kruger MP, who is a Tory, was unwise enough to say in the Commons that women could never have complete ‘bodily autonomy’ because no one does: you aren’t allowed to glue your body to the street; you aren’t allowed to pump it full of heroin.

And in the case of abortion, there’s another body, the baby’s, involved, and he was uneasy at the idea of allowing women to terminate a pregnancy up to term. All hell broke loose, and I was accused of spawning a woman-hating monster. Also, of failing to reel him in (he’s nearly 50!) and of sending him to Eton (guilty as charged).

I don’t agree with Daniel on many things. He’s Christian; I’m atheist. I’m in favour of assisted dying; he’s against it.

But that’s fine. We even made a TV documentary together and managed to discuss the pros and cons without coming to blows.

There’s more to him than a Twitter storm allows. He’s spent his whole career worrying about disadvantaged communities: as a student, he led a convoy of vans full of blankets and medicines to Croatia in the war; he spent ten years running a prison charity; as a policy wonk, he’s been concerned with what used to be called ‘levelling up’. So of course it’s upsetting to find myself blamed for his imagined iniquities as well as my own. But if my Twitter feed is occasionally awash with this poison, his must be much, much worse. No wonder so many MPs quit.

One of the few good things about social media is the occasional joke, such as this one from a hotel-owner:

‘Dogs are welcome in this hotel. We never had a dog that smoked in bed; set fire to the blankets.

‘We never had a dog that stole our towels, played the TV too loud, or had a noisy fight with his travelling companion. We never had a dog that got drunk and broke up the furniture.

‘So if your dog can vouch for you, you are welcome, too. The management.’

Prue Leith presents The Great British Bake Off