I got in bother with Bradford West candidate George Galloway this weekend. It’s ended up with me apologising to a couple of people, not least the person who Mr Galloway thinks I am. That might need clarification…
I was in a conversation with a feed which I thought was about “friendly banter” concerning Bradford’s political scene. I said something, which I won’t repeat, about the Respect Party. In summary, I incorrectly and foolishly (thinking I was speaking to a general, friendly discussion feed) repeated allegations as fact. I apologised. Correctly. It was due to brevity and the limit of 140 characters. This is how it all started.
After suddenly realising that the conversation I was in wasn’t quite what I thought, I felt that it would be right to withdraw the comments – which I did. However, the people I was speaking with weren’t happy with that and, it would seem, shared my error with Mr Galloway.
A lot later, Mr Galloway tweeted this
I didn’t see it at the time. Mr Galloway didn’t include my handle, so the message didn’t pop up as a notification. He’s blocked me on Twitter so I can’t easily see his tweets and would’ve been unlikely to have come across it accidentally. He also has my email address, but didn’t use it.
Oh, and one more thing: that’s not me.
I believe there is a Mr Atkinson at Bingley Grammar School. It’s not me; I’m not him.
Sorry, Mr Atkinson – it’s me he wants – not you.
But back to the tweet. He chose not to use my handle or my email and didn’t put the tweet as part of the conversation, so I was unlikely to see it. But he did put in what he believed was my place of work. I don’t know why. I felt that it was intimidatory – a kind of ‘I know where you live’ but, well, not quite as close to home. Was this him telling me that, unless I stopped, he was going to report me? Would an employer be upset at what I’d written? Possibly, but I thought I’d dealt with exactly as how the people I was speaking to had asked and had taken back my error. Is it right to report what someone said in (what I believed was a personal, friendly) conversation about politics to the person’s employer?
Mr Galloway knows my Twitter handle; he knows my email address; I think he knows my address as I’ve probably included it in emails; so, why did he just include my last name and (incorrectly) my place of work? What was the point if not to intimidate? If it were you, would you feel intimidated?
I’ve tweeted and emailed Mr Galloway yesterday explaining the situation – and haven’t got a reply yet. I’ve also apologised to Mr Atkinson of BGS as part of the conversation (but I don’t know if he’s on Twitter so can’t say that he saw it) and will write to the school and to Mr Atkinson if I find out Mr Galloway or anyone else has put in a complaint to the school about him / me. I hope Mr Galloway will do the same.
On another note, Mr Galloway was in the news this weekend for a much reported spat with new venture and local beer purveyors, Bradford Brewery. (If you don’t do anything else in April, make sure you go and have a pint or two.)
Mr Galloway, amongst other things, seemed to threaten to close the brewery down if he is elected.
Tweets from the brewery and Louise Mensch seemed to think it was, and the latter warned him, that any action after the election could be illegal.
Also, he and some of his supporters have suggested that “complaints abound” about the brewery. I’m not sure they do, so I asked how many have been received. I haven’t got a reply yet. I also put in an FOI request to Bradford Council to ask how many complaints have been received about Bradford Brewery to date, and how many of those were received before Mr Galloway’s twitter argument with the brewery. I’ll let you know when I get the information back.
Mr Galloway made me feel intimidated and bullied. It seems to me that he has also threatened a local business during a Twitter “spat” – which a Respect spokesperson described as ‘trivial’ – with closure because they were a bit pissy with him – but this might not be what he meant to say and I would urge you to seek clarification on his view in case, due to the limitations of 140 characters this isn’t what he meant at all.
It’s been a learning opportunity, and I’ll certainly be more careful with what I say about my former and possibly future MP on line.
But, most of all, I apologise to Mr Atkinson who, through no fault of his own, has been called some most hurtful and damaging names by a politician and (probably) Bradford West’s MP. Really – I’m sorry.