Summer is always the political silly season, when less newsworthy stories find space in the ‘papers, seeking column fillers left available with the absence of the normal political cycle.

Of course, the Conservative leadership race dominates the news and I have written about this on a couple of occasions recently. But lurking in the background is the ongoing strikes and how the opposition party is handling them.

Labour has a proud tradition of standing up for workers’ rights. The political arm of the Trade Union movement, the Labour Party has been around for over a century. Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything the Unions do – creating misery for millions trying to get to work, for example, is something I am against – I certainly recognise that without unions, progress for workers’ safety and working rights would have come far slower than otherwise.

So with that in mind, I was shocked that Ilford MP Sam Tarry was sacked from his shadow front bench role last week for supporting strikers at the picket line. The reaction from Sharon Graham, UNITE’s general secretary, was astonishing. UNITE are, I believe, the biggest funder of the Labour Party and she demanded that Labour’s leader Keir Starmer pick a side, saying that Labour are becoming irrelevant under his leadership. Left-wing commentator and Guardian columnist Owen Jones similarly called on Twitter for people to verbally abuse Starmer and film it. This week, a number of Labour front-benchers have joined picket lines without losing their jobs.

For democracy to work properly, we need strong political parties and strong leaders. There is no doubt that the tone of politics has changed with the advent of social media. I meet MPs from a bygone era who are stunned by the vitriol that comes out on platforms like Twitter and they all say they could not handle being an MP in the modern world. But it is important for all politicians to be able to argue their policies without being dragged into personal attacks and intimidation.

As a Conservative MP, I want the country to elect a Conservative government. But I want it to be done based on sound arguments and debate, with a strong opposition. I want all political parties to be funded properly and not intimidated by donors or reactionaries. Because without that debate, with confident politicians presenting policies to be challenged and tested, we all lose out.