I live life on the edge. I’m the type of guy you see in a L’Oreal advert, perhaps running along the Thames, then doing something manly, like chopping down a tree or at least doing something wearing a tool-belt.
And I use Facebook (you can even be my friend), which includes applications like ‘How Sexy Am I?’.
Actually, I generally avoid applications on Facebook, largely because I’m averse to clicking OK when asked to approve access to virtually all my information. But I did try with this particular application out of solidarity with Cllr Geoff Courtenay from Uxbridge. The Uxbridge Gazette reports that Cllr Courtenay, a fellow Conservative, has been de-selected by Hillingdon Conservatives after putting the app on his Facebook page. Apparently he displayed “a lack of judgement over inappropriate material being placed [on the] social networking site Facebook.” If there is any good news for Cllr Courtenay it’s that the paper later reveals that, in true Facebook style, there is a group demanding he be un-de-selected.
Despite my general cynicism about the role sites like Facebook and Twitter play in politics and local government stories like this depress me. I know the articles in the might not tell the whole story. And I know there may well be an unwritten subtext to the de-selection. But it looks bad for two reasons.
First, if you take it at face value we are saying that we, as a party, don’t really understand sites like Facebook, where applications like this are not that unusual and not meant to be taken seriously. If you have a Facebook account you understand that, and to see the ‘inappropriate material’ you not only need to have an account but be Cllr Courtenay’s friend. Taking it further, we are saying that we don’t expect our candidates to be human. We expect them to operate in a humourless void, in which defects like personality or character should be stamped out.
Second, if you view it as a smoke screen, then it gives the appearance that we are unprofessional. We’re using an excuse (and I think a fairly flimsy one) as cover for a decision we want to take for other reasons. Candidate selections and de-selections are a fact of life for anyone involved in politics – in just the same was as we win or lose elections, we need to convince our party that we’re fit for the job. There is nothing wrong with de-selections, just as there’s nothing wrong in people losing jobs or failing at job interviews. But if we are to be a professional party (and generally, we are) we need to act in a professional manner – and that includes honesty in the feedback rather than using convenient smokescreens.
And if you were wondering how sexy I am, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. I tried installing the application but just get a message that “there are still a few bugs on Facebook and the makers of How Sexy Am I? are trying to sort them out.” But every cloud has a silver lining, because while my sexiness will – tragically – remain a mystery, at least I don’t have to fear a de-selection.