Being a member of an online political discussion group is a difficult thing.
You CAN ‘have a voice’
The indisputably GOOD thing about it is that it gives you the opportunity to ‘have your say’.
We are told, are we not, that many people are apathetic towards politics because they ‘have no voice’.
‘Nobody listens!’ is the non-voter’s usual justification, isn’t it?
In my line of work, it is usually delivered with some kind of implied criticism of ME … as if, somehow, I (as a politician) haven’t done enough to enable them to ‘have their say’.
But, in our online age, I don’t think there is room for any excuse.
I am a member of two facebook groups where anyone can go on and ‘have their say’ about any issue that takes their fancy … and if there isn’t a thread on what they want to ‘have their say’ about, they can just start off a new one!
There is a Knack to ‘Discussion’
However, if you ARE going to go on to a political discussion forum to ‘have your say’, there are some basics you need to come to terms with first.
Yes you can have your say, but don’t expect the other members of that forum to fall about saying how RIGHT you are!
‘Thank God he’s had his say! What did we do without his insight and prescience!’ is not a response you’re going to get very often.
And, not only are people going to come back and disagree with you, they are going to express their different views in different ways, in different language … and that’s when they’re being restrained.
A forum for political discussion is just that … a place where people discuss their ideas about politics. The only way they work is if everybody taking part is interested in the discussion, and in seeing what other people think, as well as in expressing their own views.
A Failure of Education
After two decades of New Labour, I think we are fairly hopeless at discussing politics.
On the one side there seem to be a whole load of bleeding hearts who, the moment things get heated, are suddenly ‘bullied’ and ‘oppressed by the testosterone’, as if we are supposed to always discuss in some sing-song la-di-dah manner as if we’re all gentle and none of this is worth losing one’s temper about…
On the other, there seem to be those who, as soon as anybody crosses them, suddenly become abusive and flounce off, usually castigating all those who remain as dreadful half-brains.
Add to these the people who sit on the sidelines, contributing nothing save an occasional piece rejoicing that things are going wrong, and it amounts fairly much to a nightmare of accusation trying to keep a political discussion group going!
For decades, political debate has been proscribed in the Labour Party.
And now we’re trying to get it going again, we’re finding that people don’t really know how to do it properly and in such a manner that they don’t end up hating each other.
If I knew all the answers, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog, would I!
But two things I DO know:
1. We MUST learn how to discuss without schism in the Labour Party; we must become a DISCUSSING Party, and we need to stay and make it work.
2. To do this, we need to learn how to cut other members some slack.