08/08/2013 17:10 BST | Updated 08/10/2013 06:12 BST

The Day Twitter Changed

Some trolls actually break the law and should be prosecuted like any other criminal. But the majority just stay on the right side of it, which doesn't make it any better. I support those women who called for a silence on Twitter. And yet...


Unless you've been on the other end of an anonymous male voice threatening to kill you, you can't begin to know the terror of the women who have been attacked online. When this happens to a woman - especially if you're a mother - something primal kicks in. This is a man threatening to rape you, maim you, come for your kids. Every woman I know who has any kind of public profile cringes when she heads for her emails; her Twitter or FB account, her voice mail, or reads the comments after a column or a tv/radio appearance. It's scary simply because it so personal, so full of hatred. It stays with you because in your mind you're trying to picture this guy: who is he, what's going on in his mind. Why does what I say/look like/think matter so much to him?

Some trolls actually break the law and should be prosecuted like any other criminal. But the majority just stay on the right side of it, which doesn't make it any better. I support those women who called for a silence on Twitter. And yet... jet-lagged at 2 a.m, I went on Twitter and saw the hashtag #twittersilence . My first thought-and the one that I held onto all that day was this: most people in the world have no voice. So why should people be silent? Social media is just that: social. People shape it: its mood and tenor. On Twitter Silence Day, the hashtag #inspiringwomen merged. I learned about: the Indian women who marched in London for British women's suffrage in 1911; the Muslims who sent the equivalent today of a million pounds in food aid to the Irish during the Great Famine; the women scientists; composers, an entire hidden history. My trolls thankfully observed #twittersilence and a lot of the celebs did, too. But on that day, too, the people spoke and the space became, for a moment, a great show-and-tell, a conversation. Yes, the death threats were still there. But something else had emerged and it was instructive and powerful. Change happened and can be harnessed. Wonder what political party got that.

The Conservatives And Their Right Flank

It's hilarious to watch the Tories and the right-of-centre press (which is just about all of it) jump up and down over the hiring of Obama Guy: Jim Messina. First of all, it's a million dollar gig, so why not? He'll learn something in a real, live operation and the 2016 American GE is coming up. Plus it is said that he admires David Cameron, but I bet it's a Cam of some time ago. Back in what seems now like some galaxy far, far away, there was something called "David Cameron's Conservatives". Someone in Hammersmith, West London, actually ran in a local election as that kind of a Tory. Cameron was meant to bring a kind of caring, sharing "hug a hoodie" conservatism to the table. He was meant to be 'different'. When he actually got to Number 10, They came for him. The grassroots complained that Cam didn't act like a conservative and so he is trying to be one, while also emulating Obama's winning formula. But unless he gets elected head of the Labour Party (Cam polls ahead of the Tory Party; Ed polls behind the Labour Party) his strategy won't work. First of all, we elect MPs, not the PM. To think that a voter will throw over a perfectly good MP in order to insure that Cam stays in Number 10 goes against common sense and the polling data. Messina was pushing against an open door in the US. More people wanted to vote for Obama than Romney. Period. The electorate voted the opposite party to the President's at the local level. That's how America works. Pollster Nate Silver, who predicted Obama's 2012 victory in the teeth of fierce opposition from the conservatives says that political pundits "are nuts". But they make a lot of money. At any rate, whether Ed Miliband stays or Labour ushers him out, get ready for a barbecue in 2015, featuring Romneyfried Tory.

Bongo Bongo Land

When I was a little kid, the nuns showed Tarzan movies as a Friday afternoon treat. We slid down in our seats as the 'natives' leaped onscreen, boiling white women in pots and running away from a yelling white guy swinging through the trees. And there were loads of drums ringing through the air. Some could have been bongo drums, I wouldn't have known the difference back then. But we did know that we didn't like it. Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom excuses his "bongo bongo land" outburst as a product of his generation. Maybe where he comes from. Being a 'baby boomer' myself, I beg to differ. Nigel Farage is discovering every day that now he's in the bull ring. There's a real possibility that not only he himself could land a seat in the House Of Commons in 2015, but that Ukip could do real damage to all three main parties, with the Tories feeling the most pain. Godfrey Bloom is who he is and I champion freedom of speech in most cases. But Farage is smart enough to know that standard bearers like 'Bongo Bongo' Bloom, swinging through the trees and yelling at the top of his lungs, need to be stopped with a spear. Asap.

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