IT’S probably fair to say that, for as long as there has been politicians, the man on the street has said horrible things about them.

But the vitriol dished out in some corners of the internet by people on all sides of the political debate has been on the increase in recent years.

Abuse of politicians online increased substantially in the snap 2017 General Election compared to that of 2015, according to research by the University of Sheffield.

The study, led by Professor Kalina Bontcheva from the university’s department of computer science, found that male MPs and Conservatives were more likely to receive more abuse.

Speaking last year, Prof. Bontcheva warned that the abuse could threaten democracy.

“The increase in abuse towards public figures is a shocking development and one that the UK government is right to take seriously,” she said.

“If people are dissuaded from standing for election, then our representation on a democratic level is under threat.”

The problem has only worsened during the seemingly endless debate on Brexit, which has driven a huge wedge between Leavers and Remainers.

Some politicians, particularly female MPs, have reported that they have received death threats on a daily basis.

Previously, such threats may have been taken with a pinch of salt, but the horrific murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair, in 2016 showed that there was in fact a very real threat.

Politicians have been accused of poisoning the debate, particularly around Brexit. Boris Johnson’s liberal use of terms such as “coup”, “traitor”, and “surrender” have been condemned.

As were remarks made by Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell in 2014, where he suggested that then minister for employment Esther McVey should be “lynched.”

However, the blame does not rest solely at the door of politicians.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman, who gets more than his fair share of abuse through social media, called on both politicians and constituents to moderate their language.

Writing on his blog last month, Mr Opperman said: “Language has to change – whether it is in a political arena, by a football pitch or on social media, where normal human beings become something very different.

“Many of my MP friends have abandoned social media.

“I continue but never read notifications as the bile is off the charts.

“But we have to keep going – and keep trying to make a respectful robust but civilised case.

“However, everyone seriously needs to moderate their language, and tone. There are no exceptions.

“Clearly some Conservatives have used inappropriate and inflammatory language just as others have. It helps no one.

“There are no exceptions to this. I deprecate it all.

“Every MP I know requires police protection in some shape or form.

“I am no different to that, but clearly the female Labour MPs, and particularly the Jewish ones, get it worst of all.”

It’s not just MPs. At Ponteland Town Council’s meeting earlier this month, councillors discussed abusive emails they had received.

The simple fact is that nobody should feel afraid to voice their political opinions, nor should politicians fear for their lives simply for representing their constituents.