Guest post by David Lammy, who is MP for Tottenham, Minister for Higher Education and a contributor to the Fabian pamphlet 'The Change We Need' on movement politics.
The events of the last few days have made for a dark weekend for everyone on the Left.
Personally-targeted, offensive claims damage our cause. They have no place in politics. They certainly have no place in a progressive movement. We must live out our values - and that has to apply in the blogosphere as well as elsewhere. The same ethics - decent treatment, respect for others - must apply online and offline.
Smear and innuendo belong with the politics of command and control - in the past. The public must see this or it will switch off from politics.
And bloggers and campaigners on the Left must also hear this: don’t be disheartened. We need you.
We know we're better than this. Renewal for the Labour Party can’t happen from the top down and politics needs you creating debate, running campaigns, offering dissent, challenging government and civil society to think differently where you are impatient for change.
The web has vast potential to bring people together, to work together, and to make change for the common good.
Now a new generation of progressive activists are bringing the same approach to these shores. Anthony Painter has been using the blogosphere to chart the Democrats’ use of the Internet in the US. Will Straw andNick Anstead have been busy interpreting the lessons for political strategy, providing an analysis of how the progressive left in Britain can harness the power of the Internet. Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundal and his fellow ‘conspirators’ are infusing debate on the liberal-left with a new spirit - beyond the Labour party, often critical of it, but crucial in bringing the kind of informed debate and range of voices that we need. Compass have been using the Internet to drive campaigns with a nationwide reach - and are now using the web to share ideas with our social democratic colleagues across Europe.
Here lies the future of the Internet: organising campaigns for change, galvanising practical action, channelling dissent against injustice.
We see the same spirit all around us. The website Freecycle helps 6 million users to offer and receive unwanted goods, free of charge and reducing waste to landfill. Last week, Tamil activists were able to organise a protest of thousands in central London in a matter of hours.
That’s the real power of the Internet. Let's use the web to build a positive, progressive movement, not try to tear down our political opponents. Let us out-mobilise and out-organise our opponents. Let's let our movement and our values do the talking - rather than petty smears.
By David Lammy MP