Brexit, the 2019 general election and now the coronavirus epidemic. Twitter has become a place for very heated political debate over the past few years between different parties and ideologies — but not all of it has been all that pleasant.

There’s no doubt that we should always be holding our government to account, even at this time. Quite simply, lives depend on it. Differences of opinion should also be accepted, that’s what makes our democracy one of the greatest in the world. Whether it’s first-past-the-post or proportional representation, we all get a vote that allows us to control our destiny. Whether we like it or not, we now have another four years of Boris Johnson’s government and at this testing time, unity is needed more than ever.

Social media allows everyone to have their say and it has often been a place for sensible debate. However, I have seen one too many incidents where political discussions have turned ugly and now it’s time to speak out about this.

Twitter has been especially bad for this. The meaning of the word ‘Tory’ has been transformed through the power of social media. It’s no longer just someone who supports the Conservative Party, but is now also used as an insult. Apparently, if you are a Conservative Party supporter, you shouldn’t clap for the NHS and deserve all the ‘consequences’ that Brexit may bring.

On top of this, I’ve seen too many people wishing ill health on the Prime Minister and mocking his hospital admission. That is despicable regardless of your opinion on his political views.

Quite frankly, the opposition need to look at themselves. The amount of people I have seen blame the mainstream media for the Labour Party’s performance in the general election was staggering. Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters on Twitter have also been very much against each other — some of it has gone way too far. I have no doubt that Sir Keir Starmer’s party needs to reflect after a tough few months. Now is the time for Labour Party supporters to work together.

What was the cause of the major loss in seats? According to most Twitter users it’s either one or two of the following reasons. Jeremy Corbyn supporters seem to think it was because of the mainstream media and their Brexit position, and those who are less left-leaning think that it was the socialist policies in the party’s 2019 election manifesto.

Perhaps it was a mix of both. Maybe people need to reflect more. If both socialists and those who are more centre-left could come together, they may be a real threat to the Tories. A combination of Starmer’s work for Corbyn during his time as Brexit secretary, makes me believe that he is the man for the job.

Right-wing Twitter users also need to reflect on their conduct. Let’s start right at the top with the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson’s party should be setting an example. Instead, the Party’s JFC Tweet only helped to fuel hate towards Jeremy Corbyn. In my view, the tweet was completely unnecessary.

The phrase ‘leftie’ has also become a commonly employed insult. We should be welcoming political views instead of ridiculing and shunning them. There’s no doubt that we should be able to continue challenging different and difficult viewpoints. But any such debate should always be carried out with dignity and respect from all sides.

Tory vs Labour supporters; socialists vs centre-left Labour supporters; Remainers vs Brexiteers; Labour vs Liberal Democrat supporters; pro-independence vs union-supporting Scots, and so on … . I understand that there are many heated topics in politics right now. Politics in general is always a heated pot of debate regardless of the issues. Don’t stop debating. But do be kinder to each other, especially in these times.

Twitter has become a place for tribes and some people just seem incapable of debating sensibly. No matter how far apart your views are from someone else’s, the debate should never end up with both sides throwing personal insults at each other. People forget that you’re not just spitting abuse and vitriol at an account. There’s a real-life person there whose feelings you’re hurting.

For those who have always debated sensibly on Twitter; thank you. For those who haven’t; please consider what you say before writing it. Words have consequences.

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