Critics Must Allow Debate

It’s become fashionable to claim our politics is broken and, given the recent behaviour of a few leaders, it’s easy to understand why, but are some of the loudest critics also breaking our politics?

I’m talking about the intolerant activists, those who never stand for election to anything but assume they’re always right and know what other people must give up. We see it in the cavalier behaviour of protestors like ‘Just Stop Oil’ and their contempt for the opinions of others. It’s also standard behaviour for ‘keyboard warriors’, who direct streams of social media abuse at anyone daring to question their views.

Birmingham is a large and diverse city. We need to accommodate conflicting pressures and different views. It isn’t always easy.

I acknowledge the needs of the transgender community but consider those with concerns or who want women’s only spaces also have a totally valid point. They can’t just be shouted down. Even on relatively simple issues like cycling, there are those obsessed with demonising all car drivers and attacking anyone not sharing their views. I doubt their behaviour wins many converts. Like a religious cult, it’s a politics based on closing down anyone with doubts. I see it drive normal people away from politics and other community groups.

I want politicians to up their game and treat the public with much more respect, but I also want a politics that allows debate and follows a process we can all understand. Small groups can’t have everything they want, no matter how much they disrupt or abuse. Practical politics requires consensus and efforts to balance the interests of all. As I often say, we might not always agree but it’s good to listen and show respect for others. It’s ironic that those who frequently denounce the behaviour of housing estate youths have no problem with the same antics when practised by their middle-class friends. Often, those who are most critical of our politics show the least respect for others. We need more reasoned arguments and less abuse, that would go a long way to mending the way we do our politics.

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