The Labour Lord has been a fierce advocate for remaining in the EU, and a permanent fixture in People’s Vote campaign. He is more motivated than any other Labour politician to stop Brexit. But can we delete his Twitter now, please?
First published in August 2019.
Baron Adonis of Camden Town is everywhere. On social media, on campaign trails, and on the radio usually debating Nick Ferrari or Nigel Farage. The problem with being such a vociferous activist is that people are numbed to your presence. Adonis is part of the Remain movement furniture; a sturdy wardrobe filled with the readily-shared facts that bolster the cause. But whether it’s his omnipresence or position in the tier list of Remain-celebrities, it’s important to note his repeated gaffes which shame his reputation.
The impetus for this mild-mannered hatchet job was the most recent Twitter drama where he tweeted what I assume was intended as a humorous take on a no-deal Brexit. Instead it ended up coming off as a shallow attempt to make light of self-harm. It’s not the first time this analogy has been adopted to personify the UK’s Brexit bollocks-kicking. The tone is seriously misguided, especially when mental health awareness has become more important than ever.
It’s not funny, is it?
It’s an uncomfortable take on a problem which many deal with; especially young people, which makes the dialogue between child and mother even more unnerving. I self-harmed throughout my university years. Usually superficial, save for a few moments of deeper consequence. The emotions which whizz around in such a desperate situation are the furthest from humour. So, to be used in a political context, attached to a joke, is wrong. And I’d call out the same joke from any political person, regardless of my affiliation.
What’s worse is two hours after this cosmically ignorant tweet, the big Adonis retweeted his People’s Vote pal Alastair Campbell’s podcast on mental health politics. Didn’t think to delete and apologise to the original tweet, mind you. And as shame would tell its tale, the man tweeted out something using the self-harm trope later that day. Shameless retweet the next day as well.
It’s possible to rail the horrors of no-deal Brexit without resorting to jokes about self-harm. People are going to pedantically think “Oh but Dan, it’s just a phrase you snowflake.” Amazingly, and it may come as news to others, language is a huge influence on people – how is it right that we can rip into Tories and Trump for their divisive words, but fall into silence when our side sips at the poisoned chalice?
Adonis wasn’t the only Lord to fall foul of the curse of being bad on Twitter. The enigma of Alan Sugar decided to compare the Shadow Cabinet to a literal glass cabinet of skulls. Now, it’s fair to say Mr Business doesn’t like Corbyn – that’s fine, a lot of people don’t. But this is the man who is suddenly backing Boris Johnson over a Corbyn government, as if to say Corbyn would literally bring fire from the clouds.
What is it with Twitter and politicians getting it so wrong? The fact that Adonis’ tweet is still up and visible for all to tut and scoff over, is a unconscionable lack of awareness. James Cleverly tweeted out a lie about William Wilberforce, saying he was a Tory and that by association that makes the current flock of Conservatives akin to abolitionists – which is prime bollocks. Trump continues to spit out his bile which for some reason has more of a geopolitical impact than the United Nations. And don’t dare read the comments on anything by Rosena Allin-Khan or Diane Abbot.
Twitter’s a social media where you can become famous by doing nothing but clicking – see Rachael Swindon. But in the case of Andrew Adonis, his prolific activism is torn to shreds by gaffes such as the self-harm ignorance. It’s a tool of huge importance, one that shouldn’t be exempt from the conventions of everyday conduct.
But when using the right language is so crucial in the political experience, getting it wrong leads down a dangerous road.🔷
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