THE right to protest is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

If you don’t agree with something, whether that’s a planning decision, fracking, or sending our troops to fight abroad, you should be able to demonstrate your dissatisfaction.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and should have the opportunity to express it.

Unfortunately, some people go too far.

Some turn their anger at a situation into personal abuse and hatred. They even threaten violence.

Whatever your position on Brexit, and however low your opinion of the politicians or journalists involved in this circus, there can be no excuse for the sort of vile abuse and vitriol witnessed this week outside the Houses of Parliament.

By their nature, protests or demonstrations can be heated.

Passions run high and sometimes tempers flare. People say things they should not.

Getting a bit agitated is one thing. The actions of those in the high vis jackets (or yellow vests) in Westminster this week, calling MPs and journalists disgusting names and intimidating them is entirely another.

No one is saying that protesters shouldn’t be able to shout as much as they wish – as long as that doesn’t involve using the kind of language that would get you sacked if you directed it at someone at work, or a visit from a copper if you did so to a stranger in the street.

It’s hard to argue with Nigel Farage when he says that there are “double standards” about the whole issue and that he and his family suffered the same kind of abuse for years without police prosecuting anyone.

However, the answer to Farage’s anger at these “double standards” is simple – the people who subjected him to such abuse should have been dealt with, as should those this week.

There are laws in place to prevent hatred being spewed.

The people, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, who don’t think they need to take responsibility for how they behave in public need to be taught a lesson.

Those complaining about abuse are not ‘snowflakes’; MPs and journalists have endured abuse for as long as they can remember.

But everyone has the right to go about their business without being subjected to hate of any kind. It’s a basic right.

That doesn’t mean protesters can’t protest, but rather that they need to grow up and be civil.

The online community is packed with sad individuals who think it’s hilarious/acceptable/normal to say the vilest things to someone they have never met.

That’s bad enough. To make the effort to get off your backside and do the same to someone’s face because you don’t agree with their opinion is pathetic.

By taking to the streets to make their feelings known, standing outside in the cold, the protesters are ensuring their feelings are placed firmly in the public arena.

Calling someone disgusting names and surrounding them to try to intimidate them, might have given protesters a higher profile, but it did so for all the wrong reasons.

The moment they resorted to abuse and threats, they lost the argument.