We’re half way through Netroots UK, and I am struggling with this event a bit. Here are a few tweets that raise some of the important questions:
— Dave Briggs (@davebriggs) January 8, 2011
Is #netrootsuk just a dress rehearsal for the Fabian conference next week or is something else bubbling up?
— Anthony Painter (@anthonypainter) January 8, 2011
Green party girl says she feels like an outsider in this setting. She clearly hasn't met the people I know here… #netroots
— Tal-Anna Szlenski (@TalSz) January 8, 2011
— Marina Pepper (@MarinaPepper) January 8, 2011
With the exception of Clifford Singer (he’s behind the ace MyDavidCameron and False Economy), the opening session was largely disappointing. Most of the speeches, including an interminably boring speech from Polly Toynbee, focused simply on the current UK political predicament and cuts.
Why here, I wonder? There are plenty of other forums in mainstream politics for this. Also the relentless partisanship from some of the attendees is not especially helpful.
So what, then, is Netroots? And what could Netroots be?
Some of the answers are provided from Netroots in Sweden (more on that here), and I’m currently sat at the Swedish fringe meeting. The idea should be that Netroots is broadly lefty, and broadly nerdy, but it should avoid party political slanging matches and also avoid fights that are to be played out elsewhere. If The Guardian doesn’t give a damn about future Netroots events then that’s perfectly OK. This event should be about networking people of the same broad ideology, up-skilling people, brainstorming and planning projects for the future. Some of that is happening, but it’s done under the shadow of the prevailing political discourse. Do we need that? Do we need Polly Toynbee on the stage? I’m not sure.
The video mentioned at the Swedish Social Democrats’ session: