Social media can be a great place to exchange ideas and engage in debate. I know I have learnt a lot from watching debates on Twitter and also engaging in some of those debates. However, at the same time, if you hold public office, it may be a good idea to refrain from engaging in discussion around internal party issues in a public forum like Twitter. But it seems that some people haven’t grasped that concept yet.
For a party that has, rightly or wrongly, been portrayed in the media has having issues with internal discipline and dissent, it is not helping that impression to have MPs and party members dukeing it out on social media. Clare could have kept her comments private and talked to Tat about them, but instead she took them to a very public forum and sparked a much wider debate that drew in a number of people who didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.
However there appears to be more to this than meets the eye. It looks like it may be a continuation of the issues that cropped up around the end of 2012. Around that time Clare tried to get the Labour Party Council to establish “acceptable standards of behaviour” around the online activity of members, particularly those using pseudonyms. At the time there were allegations that Clare had used the resources of Red Alert to locate and identify anonymous commentators on Red Alert by their IP address. One of the users that claimed to have been targeted by Clare went by the name Colonial Viper. Apparently the user behind this pseudonym is Tat Loo. So it looks like there are still issues between Clare and Tat. At the time of the issues Clare said:
However instead of holding herself to the standard that she expected of others she engaged in the discussion and helped to “undermine” the Labour Party. This can be seen by a number of comments in the above thread where it is pointed out that this is not a good example.
I know it must be hard to not call someone out on what they are doing if you strongly disagree with them. But at this point, doing so on social media is not going to help the Labour Party cause. Social media should used by those within the Labour Party, especially MPs, to try and show a united front. There is nothing wrong with internal discussions about issues, as an MP standards should be set and upheld. I will leave the final word to John P, who sums it up thus: