So I’ve been called a ‘twit’ and accused of getting my “online knickers in a twist” for expressing disapproval of Adam Crozier, the Chief Executive of Royal Mail, who yesterday appeared on the Andrew Marr show to talk about the postal strikes.
I wasn’t making a political point, or expressing disapproval of his interview, though he seemed weak and evasive to me given it was his first interview on the situation for weeks. I was merely pointing out the fact Crozier wasn’t wearing a Remembrance poppy.
This year’s Poppy Appeal was launched on 22nd October. The British Legion says people can wear poppies at any time – all year round if they like – but it considers the appropriate time to be during “Remembrancetide”, the period from the appeal’s launch (22nd October this year) until Remembrance Sunday (second Sunday in November, which this year is the 8th).
The BBC, meanwhile, has no specific policy on poppy-wearing, saying it is “a personal decision”. Andrew Marr, for example, had made a personal decision to wear a poppy.
But should it be a “personal decision” if you are the Chief Executive of Royal Mail? In World War One, 85,000 postal workers fought in France and Flanders and the other theatres of war. 8,500 of them died. So shouldn’t Mr Crozier, as a figurehead of Royal Mail, respect the sacrifice of people from the government-owned organisation he leads by wearing a poppy?
I happened to be on Twitter at the time of the Marr programme, before going out canvassing, so I tweeted this:
Royal Mail’s Adam Crozier is not wearing a poppy on Marr. Bad form.
I did a quick search to find out how many postal workers died in the World War One and tweeted this:
Royal Mail’s Adam Crozier not wearing a poppy on Marr. 85000 General Post Office staff fought in the WW1 alone and 8500 lost their lives.
I returned from canvassing later to find this response from a Lambeth resident called @Jason_Cobb.
@CllrMarkBennett Poppy or no-poppy – Not about “bad form” but personal sentiment. The wearing of a poppy is not a PR move.
Had I suggested it was anything to do with PR? No. I expressed my view for the reasons set out above. So I tweeted back thus:
@Jason_Cobb How DARE you suggest I think it’s anything to do with PR. Personal sentiment irrelevant. 8500 people from org he leads died.
Twitter’s140 characters is sometimes not enough to be able to express a point, so I added:
@Jason_Cobb And consider the sacrifice of people who died in war to allow you the freedom of ‘personal sentiment’. Or was theirs a PR move?
To which @Jason_Cobb responded:
@CllrMarkBennett And how *dare* you interpret my tweet in the immature way you did. Twitter is great in context. This aint one of ’em.
So it’s immature to clarify my point?
I actually quite like Jason Cobb’s general outlook on life and have no desire to fall out with him. People like Mr Cobb often say they want politicians to say what they think, want politicians to engage with new media, and then get all upset or have a spasm of high-mindedness when we express a view they don’t like, or we dare to answer back.
Having lectured me for immaturity, Mr Cobb has since blogged calling me a ‘twit’ and said I responded to him with a “misguided and failed misinterpretation” of what he said. Consider the trio of negatives in that statement – it would appear to me that a misinterpretation that is failed and misguided is actually a successful interpretation. Ah, the English language.
He goes on to say, with all the condescension he can muster:
“Twitter is great at many things – context ‘aint one of them … the wonderful shiny new frontiers of 2.0 can trip up any in-experienced local politician that thinks a throwaway 140 character message is going to help them get elected next time round.”
Inexperienced doesn’t need to be hyphenated, but I’ll overlook that because his chosen adjective is not accurate anyway. He might know this if he took the trouble to find out, rather than make specious assumptions. Does he seriously think I am hoping Twitter will help me get elected? The answer to that is: I was out canvassing three times over the weekend, not sitting at a computer.
What is this context he’s talking about? I explained the context, I expressed my view. He expressed his, I chose to respond defending my view. Perhaps he could explain what he means by context. But wait, he then goes on to say:
“Of course there’s a danger of falling into the trap of thinking that all of these online missives are actually of any relevance. They’re not. They’re simply the modern interweb manifestation of rotten eggs being thrown at the people who deserve them the most.”
Ah, there we have it. All politicians deserve the rotten egg treatment. That must be his context! How refreshingly original.