Word(le) Up


There’s been some nasty activity, online and offline, within Lambeth over the past seven days. Online democracy should benefit the electorate. In Lambeth it just seems to have become an arena for various egos to see who can shout the loudest. Not many people are listening, and those weirdo local politico types that are staying awake, are rapidly losing interest with all the modern interweb squabbling.

It all started off with the defection of Nu Labour councillor Betty Evans-Jacas (made up name!) to, um, Dave’s Nu Tories. I can’t quite see what the fuss is all about myself, swapping one bland centre-right party for another.

But here’s where it gets interesting, with the twittering councillors of Lambeth using the micro-bogging platform to launch insult and counter-insult at each other, all from behind their safety of their laptops.

Idiots online are nothing new. But 2.0 transparency should by now have taken us away from the Dungeons and Dragons user name style static message boards of ye olde, and onto to the What You See Is What You Get world of shiny social media.

There’s nowhere to hide in the twitteratai, not even if you delete a tweet, as one local Lambeth Councillor did having called their defected colleague a “scab” in a throwaway tweet. Thanks heavens for screen grabs, and a copy of the offending item now stored away on my hard drive. This should come in handy during the next local election campaign, when @cllr_robbins is doing his nice meet ‘n greet thing, putting across the friendly face of Nu Labour.

But both sides are as bad as each other. Following the Nu Labour online name calling across the Rotten Borough, @lambethnews (um, Lambeth Tories in a not very good disguise) took it upon themselves on Thursday to throttle the bandwidth in the borough with a missive off ill-informed tweets and online press releases.

The least credible of these was a wild claim that Lambeth Nu Labour is going to close the swimming pools in Clap’ham And St Reatham. This is noting new. Yep, Labour certainly plans to close Clap’ham and St Reatham. Chances are they are going to re-build them as well.

The closures and re-buildings can’t come soon enough for me – bring it on. Plus… dontcha just love the tedious use of the 2012 prefix, used by any wide of the mark attempt to draw a link between sport and the corporate world 2012?

The blue corner of the borough (squint and you just might see it) is using social media to spread an online message of nothing but negative news stories directed at Nu Labour. No wonder Dave is accused of being all style and no substance. Nice blog layout, Lambeth Tories; shame about the content.

I ran the Tory twitter feed through Wordle, just to see what themes would emerge. I was looking for hope and inspiration in the borough, and a forward thinking party that just might persuade me to vote for them (stop sniggering.)

Instead I came to a conclusion that the Tory twitter feed is as interchangeable as Nu Labour’s. Which probably goes a long way to explain why the good councillor Jacas (yeah, yeah) made the switch from red to blue.

I despise this form of negative campaigning. The people of Lambeth have enough personal strife to deal with. The last thing we want from our elected politicians is to set an agenda of conflict online. I want to hear positive action about real people. @mayoroflambeth seems to be redressing the balance during his apolitical sabbatical. But it just shows how much goodwill can be achieved online, if the political intent is genuinely there.

All of the above tells us little that we didn’t already know. Local politicians can’t be trusted either online or offline. What has changed now is the online tools that are available to dig around and mash up the data to find the real truth behind the spin.

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