Yesterday I had my first weird experience with Twitter. I am relatively new to it (I couldn’t really be bothered to use it until earlier this year — although I did have an account set up years ago) and so far I have to say I have actually found it quite fun. And helpful in some cases — eg when advertising our summer school or workshops.
I suppose it was just a matter of time until something not-quite-exciting happened. So: yesterday, for some reason, I saw a post by comedian Matt Forde saying
Just a tip for Labour spokespeople, like Rebecca Long-Bailey who was on the #R4Today just now. When responding to allegations of antisemitism, NEVER LAUGH. That was shocking.
(if you follow British politics, you know that, among other things, there’re several ongoing accusations of antisemitism in the Labour party). I really don’t know how this came through my feed (as I do not follow Matt Forde), but I replied that in my view said Rebecca Long-Bailey is in fact one of many incompetent Labour MPs who are often sent to speak to the media.
I should have probably emphasised that this is of course in my view, but I have seen Ms Long-Bailey on several occasion on television and, every single time, I have got the impression that her lines were just fed to her to support the party; she has never seemed convinced and convincing; often I thought she was unprepared to face the media, despite the fact that: a) these days you’d expect all politicians to have some training in that respect; b) she is a senior member of the front-bench; c) she seems to be often sent to do these appearances on telly.
Now, I do not think she’s incompetent because she’s a woman. I do think she is incompetent, on the basis of the evidence that I have seen, as an individual. And in fact, I can think of several males counterparts whom, I think, are just as unqualified for the job they are given (eg Barry Gardiner, just to stay with Labour MPs. There are a million more on the Conservative side). And can think of examples of female Labour MPs whom I look up to (eg Jess Phillips, who on the contrary never sounds like she’s just robotically retelling something that somebody more important has told her to say and gives the impression of having thought very carefully about what she is saying).
Anyway, I think my tweet was a bit careless and I may be should have clarified what I meant — I say that because apparently lots of people seem to have liked it. Except, by judging from their profile, I can’t be more distant from the vast majority of those who have re-tweeted or simply liked it — mostly pro-Brexit, most likely anti-diversity and generally right-leaning. I know this shouldn’t have, but it did bother me that I’ve obviously managed to say something that was so clearly open to a very different interpretation than what I really meant.
And for a while, I wasn’t sure how to respond to this — should I have removed my tweet to avoid it being retweeted or liked by people I didn’t like? Or should I just leave it be and embrace the fact that this is just the way it is? After all if you are not 100% of what you’re saying, you’re opening yourself to misinterpretation to a much larger scale than if you were just speaking to your friends…
In the end I posted another tweet trying to clarify what I really meant — not sure that got as much traction. Anyway, I’ll try and remember my childhood here George and be much less careless in the future!