If Liverpool councillors call you a ‘pussy’, a ‘sad man’ and an ‘anorak’ is that cyber bullying, or just sort of pathetic, and indicative of the level we’ve stooped to?
What happened to honest, adult debate in this city? Readers will know I’ve taken a stance in favour of the market traders, and against Cllr Kennedy’s support of Geraud. Fair enough? You’d think? This is Liverpool. Not Sochi.
The cut and thrust of local issues. The desire to shape debate. This is the stuff of SevenStreets. And every markets feature we’ve published has been addressing a real and present danger – a fact that is simply impossible to avoid: our markets are dying.
You might know, too, that we’ve always offered right of reply, but that, instead, Kennedy told us to sod off. And, since then, has refused to speak to us. Completely.
Until last week. When, on his official Liverpool Council Twitter account, Councillor Kennedy began a bizarre, personal tirade against me. Not the issues. Me.
“Embarrassed because SevenStreets doesn’t write about you? Here is a simple one step plan to have your own article. Simply call David Lloyd…Drat that 140 letter limit!”
Please, tell us. What should you call me, Cllr Kennedy? How about, instead of twitter rantings, you just pick up the phone and call me?
That way, instead of asking other Liverpool websites how many readers we have, I could tell you to your face. I could show you that we have around 55,000 readers. Would that make you change your opinion of us, because you also tweeted:
“Bloggers are for anoraks who can’t get published elsewhere.”
I really don’t need to waste time seeking validation from you, Cllr Kennedy. But my job, the one I make living from, is as a writer. I write SevenStreets for love. Of the city.
What does this schoolyard-style slanging match say about those who we pay to get our city out of the mess it’s in?
To me it shows arrogance and contempt for the readers who visit SevenStreets (not all of whom agree with everything we post, but who come because we have something to say. We give a fuck) – a site we run not to make friends, and certainly not for awards. But to raise the debate, mull over ideas and generally air our love of, and frustration towards, our home. Isn’t that the sign of a mature, engaged electorate? Would you prefer it if we just shut up? Would that be easier?
There’s a worrying tendency for anyone who criticises or opens debate to be seen as a moaner, a hater, bullied on twitter, and generally seen as a ‘bad egg’ against the endless social media echo chamber of validation and back slapping. How can that ever elevate us beyond the mediocre?
SevenStreets is of the opinion that we need to engage more with the city; to take a long, hard look at ourselves, and to admit it: we’ve a truck load of difficult decisions ahead. And none of them should be taken without real soul searching.
We are the audience left out in the cold by The Echo and other news sources, and we are – that’s you and us, readers – entitled to question the decisions of those who are privileged to serve us.
Now, all of this isn’t to say I can’t take critisim. I can take it. In fact I love it, when it’s directed at what I write. Why else would I do this? Oh, and so can Giles Coren (and, by the way, he’s big enough to fight his own battles: so you really don’t need to wade in and tweet him to tell him I’m a pussy, again on your official Liverpool Council Twitter stream. Nice work. Do you offer business advice on social media skillz?)
But what I can’t take is elected Cabinet Members – people in our pay – using social media to shout out like spurned kids in the playground. I think it’s this kindergarten-level braying that drags the city down, not a website intent on airing honestly held, contrary opinions, and on giving a platform to the opinions of our embattled independent traders.
I don’t always get it right. In fact I got it wrong about Giles Coren. I went off way too stupidly on that one. And I’m sorry about that. And we’ve talked.
But, after a quick cursory check of our back issues, I count at least 50 positive features about the city’s regeneration in the past year (which means, y’know, you’re not all bad), as opposed to three against. I bet you didn’t know that? It’s ok, really, don’t thank us. We’d only blush.
So, no, I’m not sorry about making our Councillors accountable. And I won’t sod off.