Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dangerous Friends

I still haven't got a grip on Facebook - and now I'm a bit worried about who I've accepted as a Facebook 'friend'. This follows a rumpus over our young candidates, Craig Williams and Harri Lloyd Davies signing up as a 'friend' of John Jenkins, who was deselected as a Conservative Assembly candidate last year over homophobic remarks he made some years ago.

This seems completely 'over the top' to me. I didn't agree with John's comments about gay men and he shouldn't have made them. But when I discussed his views with him, I didn't think he was homophobic and rather liked him. It could easily have been me agreeing to be his 'friend' - and I would have been very put out if that was taken as any sort of support for stupid comments he made several years ago. I have agreed to become a ' Facebook friend' of several people that I don't know at all. I am even a 'friend' of Peter Hain ! There could be all sorts of weirdos lurking on my Facebook site just waiting to leap out and bite me.

I am surprised by this turn of events. I don't really have much option other than to ask my trusty Phill to delete anybody from my list of Facebook friends on Monday that I do not know. Or more likely, I will de-select myself from Facebook. I really can't be bothered to go through the process of checking up on everybody in the sort of detail it seems I need to. Pity - but that's the way of the world. There are rules for politicians and other rules for everyone else.

This demonstates why some politicians steer clear of the blogosphere altogether. Last week, someone claiming to be a lifelong Conservative supporter rang my office to say that he had visited my blog and been so disgusted that neither he nor his wife would ever vote Conservative again - even though I go to so much trouble to keep it clean and proper. I think his wife had found her way onto a linked blog - but I got the blame.


Anonymous said...

Nobody in the real world cares about who is whose "friend" on facebook. But it should be a source of fun, not an annoyance. I still haven't found it to be of any real use, though.

SG said...

I agree with ordovicius. I believe that I'm your "friend" on facebook. I think that I added you beacuse I love reading your blog and like your politics :)

Peter Black said...

Glyn, this is an unusually weak response from you to this so-called controversy. My reaction was to e-mail John Jenkins and ask him to be my Facebook friend, if only so I can monitor who else joins his page. It is just a bit of fun.

I also had a constituent ring my office to say that they would never vote for me again because I have linked to Arsembly on my blog, who they believe is sexist and offensive.

Although I had accidentally erased the link to Arsembly by that time I reinstated it when he pointed out my mistake on the grounds that if it had not been that who had offended my constituent it would have been something else.

You cannot win in this game, you just have to be yourself and people have to either accept or reject you for it.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree. I think it's fine having friends across the political spectrum. but most people draw the line at racists and homophobes, these two Tory candidates didn't.

Peter/Glyn - it sounds as if you were rang up by the same person, who's probably not a constituent of either of you.

Left Field said...

I would be wary of "lifelong" supporters, who refuse to vote for any party ever again based on a blog or to whom you link. It may put them off an individual, but even then it would have to be strong stuff.

I would have thought your blog would make people more likely to vote for you. Most of what you write is interesting and rather consensual (perhaps that's what offended them - no hang 'em, flog 'em stuff.)

Glyn Davies AM said...

Lots of early comment - and my instinct is the same as Peter's. Perhaps I'm too sensitive about accusations of homophobia - but changing the perceptions of people that my party is more 'harsh' than others is particularly important to me. I'm with David Cameron in trying to change this. Peter's joke about becoming John's 'friend' to check who else joins in nearer the truth than he supposes. Peter doing it will attract no comment - but if I did there would be immediate media interest in a way designed to portray my party as homophobic. Thats the point. The reference to 'these two tories' in anon's comment says it all really.

But I agree with anon's comment that the supposed constituent was probably ringing around a few of us - and I still haven't got around to updating my links. I'm still reading Arsembly, Sanddef, Wales Elects etc on Peter's site

Anonymous said...

best policy is not to have an opinion at all. worked for new labour

John Jenkins said...

First point to make: the comments attributed to me supposedly being homophobic in 2003 were not even close to the actual views I made. They were distorted in the mist of the last Assembly Election campaign. I resigned as a Tory candidate because I accepted I had been a pillock and given political opponents a chance to smear the Tory Party.

I really do object to being labelled a "homophobe" by people who have never met me, never spoken to me or had the courtesy to look beyond the shallow reporting of the media and the spin of the political parties.

Secondly, it behoves me that so-called responsible politicians would seek to smear genuinely nice people such as Harri Lloyd Davies and Craig Williams just because they have the decency and humanity to keep in touch with an old colleague who has since left the Tory Party.

I don't know who has made a fuss about this whole Facebook nonsense but if this is the highest level Welsh politics can find itself upon then God help us after May 3rd.