I’ve been following the pantomime bitchiness aimed at South Tyneside’s Independent Alliance party on a couple of South Tyneside blogs for the last few weeks, and to be honest, it’s been pretty tiresome. I’ve found nothing of merit and have failed to find anything which would give a voter any real insight into the candidates or South Tyneside’s fruity political scene.
I’ve got no love for the Alliance, and in the past I’ve had the handbag out for them too. I probably will in the future. Like many people I thought the Independents represented a real opportunity to challenge Labour’s dominance on South Tyneside, not just in councillor numbers, but in ideas. The reality has been disappointing. I’ve found some of their and their supporters’ campaign tactics dishonest and disturbing, although I have had cause to agree with some of their members on a couple of issues. In terms of the quality of the political discussion, the Alliance has set the bar very low, approaching some campaigns with a brutal ad-hominem style instead of challenging policies and proposals on a rational and coherent basis.
It’s by this low bar that some South Tyneside blogs seem to be joining the fight.
Personally, I prefer to try and work on the basis that without evidence, the gossip that’s flying around local blogs at the minute is devoid of any real value. Any analysis I produce I try to at least build a case using the best available information. Admittedly, I don’t always succeed, but it seems a pretty reliable and honest rule of thumb.
In terms of past history, I don’t care if a candidate nicked a bicycle twenty years ago, or gave their mates some weed when they were at college or engaged in biblical relations with a consenting duck at a party. If we all looked honestly at our own past misdemeanours we’d find some pretty embarrassing stuff we wouldn’t want publicised in the petty subjective light of the blogosphere. But reading some blogs you’d think that some candidates had been caught killing virgins on a full moon or found listening to rap music.
And if someone doesn’t want to answer the loaded questions fired off by an anonymous and openly hostile blogger I don’t feel there’s any lack of honesty – no-one is obliged to play someone else’s cynical mind games and the accused should at least be able to face their accuser and challenge the evidence.
That’s not to say people shouldn’t take the piss, it happens to us all and helps our skin grow a little thicker, but it doesn’t mean that the minor misdeeds that maketh the man (or woman) and build our character should be raised as indicators of contemporary or future personality traits and abilities.
If the same energy was expended on objectively examining the policies and activities of all the local parties in South Tyneside instead of agonising over gossip and heresay, bloggers would quickly realise how limited the political gene pool in South Tyneside really is, and that real ideological diversity has been subsumed to the evolutionary dead end of whip control. As we’ve so far seen from the Labour and Conservative parliamentary candidates, an original thought can’t be found between them, and jokes about the People’s Front of Judea seem painfully too close to the truth.
Instead of poring over the minutiae of minor character weaknesses and past mess ups, bloggers should try to avoid the lame tabloid character assassination and look into what the parties are really about. However, if evidence of relevant wrong doing by candidates is found by all means produce it, otherwise shut the fuck up – you’re not helping democracy.