Written by Toby Miles
Weathered by the political storm of snide remarks and counter-productive bickering, it happened more and more. My hands would grab the Metro, instantly flip it over, and set either side of the sports pages.
Politics e-newsletters went unread, weekly news podcasts piled up – after only 12 months paying close attention to the political news cycle, humoring the water treading, believing that I would see progress, I cracked.
My Twitter feed is filled with Arsenal and Manchester United fans’ fiery declarations of their own tribe’s supremacy – those dead-end conversations are bearable. I find the constant, flimsy, shouted accusations of racism and facism, or celebrations of ‘triggering’ someone, depressing.
I have engaged in comments sections, but in each quickly found that one open-minded person is not enough for a useful exchange. It is the addiction to these self-indulgent war of words that are poisoning politics.
What stopped me even glancing at the front pages was the realisation that following the whirlwind achieved nothing, because the whirlwind was only causing more destruction.
The Big Tent festival is intriguing to someone like me, someone who needs to be dragged kicking and screaming from the Premier League previews or Ashes analysis.
An example needs to be set, and a space that can be trusted to foster a healthy, well-intentioned debating environment could inspire people to be part of progress, instead of conflict.
Should political discourse be so emotionally charged? Why do we hear so much from those who cannot keep their cool? Much like the world of “Football Twitter”, those shouting loudest, with the most dramatic reactions, are getting the attention. This is an irritant in sport – a scourge in politics.
Commentators, politicians, voters with a platform who can respect and trust their political opponents, can approach conversations with the willingness to scrutinise their own views as well as another’s, should be championed.
The process cannot start on social media. If, on the 31st of August, Mudchute Farm is turned into a one-day, real-world microcosm of what public and political debate needs to become, and people are offered a rare positive experience in politics – we could start to see wider change.