It’s happened. It’s over. After a strained period of time in which accusations were made, allegations went back and forth, questions were asked and went unanswered, and a bit of name calling went on, it couldn’t carry on. There were good times, of course: long talks which led well into the night; we reminisced, we made our apologies and we made up; we talked of our shared love of Bradford and planned ways to celebrate and share it. But, in the end, despite protestations and promises, he decided that our relationship was to be no more. Yes, it was his decision. He made the break, he ended it all and he called our brief, explosive, wonderful relationship to a close. And how? An acrimonious argument filled with fire and ice? A note, left on the mantelpiece? No. He blocked me on Twitter. Without a word of explanation, with no reason given, without a care for the dozens of 140 character billet-doux we’ve sent back and forth across the sky, he blocked me and left me to wonder “Why, George, why?”
So, why did George Galloway block me, and was he right to?
A brief recap of yesterday involved me tweeting to and about Mr Galloway twice, both relaying news articles about him. The first was quite a scary story about The Metropolitan Police being accused of working nefariously against Galloway. I follow many Bradford tweeters and hadn’t seen it banded about so put it into Bradford’s twittersphere. The second was an equally scary story about a lack of respect from Bradford’s Respect Party when they were accused of bullying intimidation tactics to those who disagree with them, including anonymously calling rape victims in order to put them off demonstrating about Mr Galloway’s comments on rape. I pointed out the story him, asked him if he’d deny the allegations and, when he did, I retweeted his denial. I thought I’d been fair, putting across both sides of the story. Evidently not in Mr Galloway’s eyes.
I’m not alone, though. There are a number of Bradford’s tweeters who have incurred the wrathful blocking finger of Mr Galloway. He states he only blocks bigots, racists, users of abusive language and, well, I can’t remember and I can’t check because I’m blocked, but people who have done him real wrong and people no-one would want to see on their timeline. Others, though, say they’ve done little if anything, including complaining about his not responding to letters from a constituent.
But is being blocked that bad? In all honesty, yes, I think it is. Mr Galloway knows the importance of social media and has said it’s one of the reasons he managed to win the Bradford West by-election. You see, Twitter was a great way for me, a constituent and Galloway voter, to see what my MP is up to, what he’s doing for Bradford and enabled me to drop him a line to put my views to him (important as he’s becoming notorious for not answering constituents’ communications). For this, he’s called me ‘a stalker’ and later apologised for this. I’ve been a critic of him, yes, and have called on him to do more for Bradford; but I’ve also fought in his corner, asking the local paper why they’ve ignored his stories. I like to think of myself as a bit of a blogger and I’ve been calling on local politicians, including Mr Galoway, to do more for Bradford. In blocking me, he’s trying to stop me seeing what he’s doing, engaging with him and calling him on things I see, as his constituent, as wrong. Blocking me is telling me that I can’t make use of a tool he uses to keep his constituents up to date; blocking me is telling me I can’t contact my MP when and how I want; blocking me is blocking my attempts to ensure my MP is working for me. Is saying “Blocking me is undemocratic and an attempt to disenfranchise me, however small” complete hyperbole? Maybe – but he has deliberately attempted to stop me checking on what my MP’s doing, commenting in the swiftest manner on this, and allowing me to communicate with him in the easiest way.
So, am I sad? I am. Mr Galloway has his knockers – and the line is getting longer by the day. But, in him, we have someone with so much potential to do good for Bradford. I wrote about voting for him and said it was his ego and his mouth I was voting for because Bradford needs someone with a reet big gob shouting from the rooftops about what this city needs and the glories it already holds. That was a selling point he made clear, stating that the other candidates couldn’t give Bradford the media coverage in a term he could get in a heartbeat. I agreed. Unfortunately, he’s failed in this and more and more people, including me, are asking where all this publicity about Bradford in the national media is. But still, I felt he could be good for Bradford if he kept Bradford at the forefront of his mind, and worked for us and for our needs, celebrating and selling our city, he could be great. Now, I feel let down. Now, I feel like he only listens to those who agree with him and won’t suffer any deviation from what he wants to hear. And, when it comes to politicians like that, it’s never ended well for them or anyone associated with them. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Hitler or Stalin; he’s not even a Derek Hatton – he’s a dick. Shame.
And now, has the end has come for George and me? I’ve lost respect for him every bit as much as he’s losing Respect for all. What I won’t do is allow this to stop me criticising him, and sharing positive news stories about him, calling on him to speak up for Bradford and out for its citizens, because, after all this, he’s still my MP… and the bugger works for me!
So, I’ll take myself off, dust myself down and try and start another long, loving, mutually beneficial relationship with a political animal, but next time I’ll choose one other than a cat. And in the interim, while the hurt’s still raw and the memories still burn with every mention of Question Time, BBC Parliament or Rula Lenska, I’ve got a group of buddies who share my pain. There’s a support group right here in George’s twin constituencies of Bradford and Twitter. You see, there are more of us than you think, and we’re all becoming proud to say we’ve been #BlockedByGalloway and we wear our twibbons with pride.