Category Archives: Social Media

Right wing press smear Ed Miliband’s late father

The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency. – Theodore Roosevelt

In the last few days the Daily Mail newspaper has published articles and an editorial smearing Ralph Miliband, the late father of Labour leader Ed Miliband. They claim he “hated Britain” and was “evil”. In reality Ralph Miliband loved Britain and served in the Royal Navy during the war.

The Daily Mail complained about people not showing respect for the dead earlier this year. Now they smear a man who died 19 years ago.

These are the men who "hated Britain"

These are the men who “hated Britain”

In 1938, after Hitler had opened concentration camps in Nazi Germany, the Daily Mail was supporting fascists in Britain and Germany. The then proprietor, Lord Rothermere, the great grand father the Daily Mail’s current chairman, met with Hitler and publicly supported him up until just a few months before the start of the war.

The Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband by smearing his late father is an extraordinary new low for the right wing press. It makes me wonder what they will get up to in the next 18 months. Despicable though this is, the Tories know that negative, cynical campaigning works. David Cameron refused to condemn the Mail’s attacks and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt joined in today. It is clearly a coordinated attack and, it seems, the coordinator must be Australian Lynton Crosby, Cameron’s campaign supremo. This is going to get worse and worse in the run up to the general election.

Negative politics damages our country and its people. I’ve been subjected to personal abuse (like this and this and this), swearing, threats and even an assault by political opponents in Surrey Heath. The newspaper that said “Hurrah for the black shirts” would approve of these thugs too, no doubt. Social media is used as a weapon here by Tory councillors to abuse anyone who dares to question or analyse council policy. Local democracy is under threat too.

Ed Miliband has called for decency in British politics. This is much needed at every level. Heroes like Ralph Miliband fought to save our democracy, we mustn’t hand it over to unaccountable powers who smear and abuse. Let’s call them out whenever and wherever they cross the line.

Who Was That Masked Man (or Woman)?

For the last couple of years Surrey Heath, and Lightwater in particular, has had a participant in local political debate who has given a whole new perspective. The anonymous blogger Left of Lightwater has been a uniquely well-informed and articulate honest-broker on local issues. He (or she) recently announced that they will be leaving our area and, due to their new job, will be unable to opine on the blog or twitter any more.

I feel sad about this and I’m sure I’m not alone. However, nothing lasts forever and people move on in life. LoL has impressed (nearly) everyone by writing so credibly and relevantly and maintaining grace under fire. It is no surprise that promotion and opportunity beckons. I’m pleased for her (or him) and, although I’ll miss them very much, I wish them the best for the future.

It’s the end of an era and rather than feeling sad, we should remember what we’ve had and use what we’ve learned.

Social medium with a message

I’ve learned from Left of Lightwater that social media can be used to communicate a coherent message and have a conversation about important issues. Like many people, I had previously considered blogs and twitter to be dominated by ill-mannered ranters with nothing worth listening to. This is not correct. There are lots of blogs and tweeters and many of them are worth reading, LoL was a prime example, providing a knowledgeable and readable take on local and ideological subjects. We didn’t always agree but we shared the same terms of reference and could persuade each other to change our minds, sometimes.

There are a few other bloggers and tweeters locally who engage in lively, informed ideological discussions but, outside the Surrey Heath Labour Party, they are very rare (I’ll think of one in a moment, I’m sure). The lesson from LoL is that everyone should be able to do this nowadays. You don’t need a full ideology, if you believe in something, anything, please tell us about it! I know local council officers could inform our debates and I wish that some way could be found for them to participate. They would definitely be worth reading.

“I don’t care what you believe in – just believe it.” – Shepherd Book, Serenity

I’m Spartacus

This isn’t an obituary. Left of Lightwater is not dead. His (or her) spirit lives on but we need people to step up and tell us what they think and convince us with their arguments and points of view.

You don’t have to live in Lightwater, or be a lefty, to step forward. It’s easy to start a blog, just type WordPress into Google. You can even remain anonymous. The tricky bit is writing something interesting to others. If you are reading this, you obviously think about what is going on around you. Surrey Heath needs you!

Don’t let them take the Left out of Lightwater. In memory of this chapter in our political debate, let’s see some more people start up blogs and tackle local and national issues in our borough. You’ve got it in you and we’re waiting to hear from you.

So long, and thanks for all the blogs

So, Left of Lightwater, whoever you are, thank you for guiding us through the last two years of issues, for advising and encouraging us to step up and make a difference. From everyone who enjoyed your blog in Surrey Heath, good luck and clear skies for your next journey. We’ll miss you, man (or woman).



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