Adjusting The Progressive Focus

Anyone who has been on Twitter over the past few weeks and months will have no doubt noticed that the election season is now in full swing. Petty arguments and point scoring are now well up the agenda as political parties and their, more often than not young members (and I don’t exclude myself from this criticism) are the main perpetrators of this heinous part of our politics.

A major overhaul and rethink of strategy is desperately needed.

Often I have seen, and embarrassingly sometimes myself been involved in, petty point scoring on Twitter and all too often it is between NI21 and the Alliance Party. In most cases I am confident that what comes across as point scoring is probably well intentioned. But this must change.

This must change because, on the surface it seems logical that the Alliance Party are going to be the main political competitor with NI21 for the moderate vote and most would expect to see the fruitless politicking intensify come even closer as election day dawns.

What we must remember though that neither NI21 nor the Alliance Party are the main problem. As Ian James Parsley noted in an article earlier this week, “with a few honourable exceptions, the DUP and Sinn Féin are not made up of reasonable, rational people. One thinks the world was founded 6000 years ago; worse still, the other thinks the IRA’s terrorist campaign was legitimate.” Unfortunately for the majority of people who want our politics to progress we have almost daily reminders of the barriers to the progression we want and need. We only have to look at the spat last week between Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson, or indeed if we glance across to the Ulster Unionist’s Tom Elliott who when addressing the comments made by Martin McGuinness regarding the Orange Order, UVF and PUP acting as “one and the same” he managed to display an award winning performance of whataboutery as the phrase ‘what about Castlederg’ is becoming something of a regular occurrence.

Therefore for every minute that is spent between the Alliance Party and NI21 fruitlessly attacking each other on Twitter, we are seriously missing the bigger picture, or the elephant in the room as the metaphor goes. We must re-adjust our focus to the bigger problem.

This does not mean that NI21 and the Alliance Party should never engage on Twitter, or try to pretend that we are happy-go-lucky liberals that smile and agree with each other all of the time. Of course it doesn’t, because we aren’t the same party, it’s natural that we are going to disagree on issues. It means that when we engage it’s imperative that it must be constructive and we cannot allow it to become the tit-for-tat pettiness characteristic of the status quo, as the moment we lower politics to that level, we lower our politics to the level that we seek to replace. Truly real leadership and fresh politics will be ushered in by focusing our energy on the problem, instead of pettily chipping away, when not necessary at the solutions for no other reasons than purely for political expedience.


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