Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The end of the "Soap Box"

I'm really sad that
Kezia Dugdale's Soap Box has been closed.

I disagreed with her politics... actually, that's what everyone has said. I don't know if I do, really. I mean, the social conscience side of Labour is something that most people can get on board with (when it exists!). For me, what I disagree with was the negative agenda for Scotland that Labour has, its visceral hatred for the SNP and its "we can't work with anyone who wants to break up Britain" attitude.

I disagree with Kez that "blogging is no longer... a proper vehicle for debate." While I understand that perspective from her experience, I generally find that when I try to get a debate going, the debate is good natured. Indeed, I've only ever had to delete one comment - and that was just for a wee sweary.

Where I do agree with Kez, and what makes me really quite sad, is the state of the blogosphere. Kez's experience of comments is that "95% of the comments that follow [her posts] are negative" - and while she's put it in those terms, I think she's being polite. I may be putting words in her mouth, but for "negative" I read "harsh, uncalled-for, occasionally personal, attacks." And that for me is not on.

I do think there is a time for partisan debate - but let me be clear - some of the stuff that has been written in the comments on Kez's blog have been purely aimed at character defamation, fueled by venomous bile. That is not on.

Now, I know that a lot of Kez's posts have been attacking the SNP (comparable to some Nat blogs that simply attack Labour). And the debate on those topics should be lively. But most of the comments have overstepped the mark.

If my own blog had been the subject of such personal attacks then I would have given up a long time ago. So let me just say this. Kez - thanks for your contribution to the debate. I hope you'll re-consider your decision, but I won't be holding my breath.


Linders 9 October 2008 at 11:32  

Not sure I agree with you here. I've only stumbled across Kezia's blog briefly and I've not seen the negative comments in question, but I'm not sure how she can write with "visceral hatred for the SNP" (your words, not mine) and then expect not to take some flak in the comments.

You've said yourself that you've only ever had to delete one comment. It's not a problem I have on my blog either. So is the "state of the blogosphere" really that bad, or do we just have some over-the-top and unacceptable reactions to blog posts which are already inflammatory?

Malc 9 October 2008 at 13:14  

You are, of course, twisting slightly what I said - I was referring to Labour's visceral hatred of the SNP, not Ms Dugdale's.

And that does make a difference. Because even if Kez's post's are anti-SNP, they are written in terms of rational, coherent argument and policy based. They were very rarely - and with ample supporting evidence - personal attacks on SNP members or the SNP itself.

And flak itself is fine. I take a lot of it - from Sam and James in particular - for supporting John McCain. They argue rationally and fairly criticise my view. And i appreciate their opinions, and argue back.

But that is not what Kez was faced with. And you only need to read some of the comments on Scotsman articles or have a quick look at Scottish Unionist's featured "Cyber Nat" section to see that they take that too far.

Linders 9 October 2008 at 16:08  

My apologies Malc - it was an honest misread, not an attempt to twist words!

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