Yesterday I wrote about the process of requesting details from Political Parties of the details they retain after holding conversations with us as potential voters. My blog followed on from an earlier tweet which some of the local party activists and Councillors responded to. The discussion revealed some very bizarre responses, bearing in mind I have previously held twitter based conversations with all concerned, one who I have met is my Councillor and another is someone I know quite well. The common strand seemed to be a lack of appreciation why I should possibly want to see what is held on their database about me. On several occasions I was given a description of the sort of data which they hold. When I persisted it was clear from how upset these people are that they perceive that I don’t believe them. These folk also wrote in a manner that appeared to be patronising on occasions. The truth is that my ‘relationship’ with the Labour Party goes back far longer than any of them have been active politically, even though I have never joined any political party and do not intend to do so. However I believe passionately that organisations such as Political Parties should practice what they preach in terms of openness, transparency and equality.
One of the other issues which seemed to trouble these folk was why I was only demanding information from the Labour Party. The truth is that although I have in recent years begun to engage with the Green Party, this is a very superficial level of engagement compared to that which I have had with Labour 35 years ago. I typically pay the Tories short shrift on an organisational level and I have never been approached by the Lib Dems. I am not picking on Labour for any other reason than the party is the only one I have really had any dealings with. Yet for these activists its as if I am singling them out for unfair treatment. This is completely ridiculous. If I was to challenge parts of the Christian Church over their adherence to theology which they claim to hold to, they might be defensive, but they would never point out that I am not challenging other parts of the Church, or that I am not challenging other faith groups in the same way. These activists appear only to see the world through their own perspective. It is hard to detect any sense of empathy with how I might feel about data that they freely admit they hold about me. I sense that Doctors, Police Officers or Teachers would understand the desire people might have to see their personal data. Perhaps the real problem is that until recently none of us really appreciated that these parties do actually store data following their discussions with us. I suspect the reason that the Police, Educational and Medical professionals understand our need for data, is because they have got used to our interest in our own records. Perhaps there really is the need for the same sort of revelation for our Political Parties. The alternative is almost too horrible to enunciate, that people who join political parties get brainwashed as part of the process of joining!