Diane Abbott allowed me to follow her on Twitter for all of 15 minutes before she blocked me…

Diane Abbott's apology is welcome but silencing critics is an unhealthy sign in the age of social media democracy

I must confess I have never really been that much of a follower of the great and the good on Twitter and have only really got vaguely into it recently – I am careering towards my 400th tweet after being on it for 2 years.

However, I know a few mega-tweeters like fellow Electoral Reformer, Arnie Craven, and saw a mild storm brewing last night concerning the rather unfortunate comments made by the Diane Abbott, concerning her apparent belief that:

“White people love playing ‘divide & rule.'”

I must confess I was rather shocked that a mainstream politician, which Diane is nowadays, couldn’t see the danger in her comments. Ignoring the obvious comparison with what would happen if the opposite was said by another politician it just struck me as being amazingly crass. White people, and others, do have an awful lot to own up to concerning our colonial history and I am the first agree with Diane that our history is littered with cases of ‘divide and rule’, but the belief that somehow this attitude continues to the present day, as a tactic to create schism amongst an entire section of society is reckless.

Diane has thankfully apologised, as I did have a small hand in making sure that she felt the pressure from reasonable people, as well as those who seek to find offence. However, I suspect mine has been the shortest ever following of any Twitter account, as I started following her at just gone midnight and within 15 minutes I appeared to have been eliminated.

Politicians should be able to take criticism from reasonable people. It is concerning that when reasonable people identify a fairly gaping hole in a train of thought they are silenced for their criticism.

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