Hard knocks

Another example of the snowflake millennial? I am not one at all to advocate abuse, aggression, divisive behaviour, not unkindness, ad hominem attacks, personal sleights, or any other behaviour that demeans the person in front of you.

I think the aggressive adversarialism of many democratic systems demeans the causes being fought and the people who fight them. To abuse or denigrate someone for who they are rather than listen to their opinions and ideas is to inhibit freedom of speech and so much more, and it does nobody any good. It isn’t new of course, and a scan through any Hansard from pretty much the past two centuries will reveal not just snipey and underhand criticisms of people, and the oppression of those with less power, but in some cases a great deal worse.

Politics in our system is divisive because that is the way it is set up. One might as well ask, “Why do those rugby players keep fighting with each other?”, or “Why does that bowler keep throwing a lump of wood and leather at the batsman?” It’s baked into the rules. And until the rules are changed or loosened then it will always be thus. So, the message is clear: don’t join in if you don’t want to risk being mauled. It’s not right, but it’s what it’s like.

I do wonder what Michelle Dewberry expected. She does this common thing among some more, ahem, recent additions to the political world: she gets all iffy when people aren’t very nice to her. She’s plays the fragile young person and tries to accuse those around her of not being very nice. I have no doubt that people have been not very nice to her, and that their behaviour is unacceptable. But she doesn’t do herself any favours in whining about it as she seems to in this exchange.

I’m no fan of Paul Mason’s style: he is especially combative, but in a robustly discursive way. He is not trying to belittle Michelle Dewberry; instead he just dismisses her complaints because they are unsubstantiated before him. I’d have been more amenable, I know. I’d have said something like, “Well, that is unfortunate and if what you say is demonstrably true then I am sure there is a case against those who treated you so badly.” He could then have said all that about Momentum. It isn’t his place to defend or accuse, and frankly MD should gave grasped that. In fact, she probably does, but her uptight sense of entitlement (“I am doing politics so be nicer to me”) renders her blind to the reality of what goes on around her in that arena. If you are going to make claims, then be prepared to give evidence. Combative types are all around, and MD is no different in that regard. What she does, however, is personalise rather than generalise, and that just makes her more defensive, passive aggressive and hard-done-by.

PM gets it wrong too. As do they all, it seems. The debate is not about whether social policy is good enough to save people’s lives (it isn’t: nobody should die on the street), but about whether politics is divisive (it is because that is the system we have). It’s not good, and I wish it were different, but that is the matter before us all.

Whining and wingeing as MD does is fruitless and just makes her into a complainer. Abrupt divisiveness as PM is does no good because it perpetuates the system. But neither of them can step out of it. And in not being able to step out of it, why not find better ways to challenge it, which is what MD fails to achieve at all?