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Jack Sargeant AM (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) called for a cultural change in politics in order to make it “more accessible to the people we (politicians) represent”.
In a short debate, he cited the rising number of attacks on politicians on social media and increasing divisions between different sections of society. Jack also highlighted growing calls from young people for improved mental health services and measures to combat bullying.
He noted the rise in hate crimes and other forms of abuse coincides with the creation of echo chambers and bubbles where peoples’ views are reinforced, giving rise to extremism.
“And, what happens on both sides of the Chamber and all sides of the Chamber, be it in the media, in Parliament and the Assembly and in public forums is the inchoation of echo chambers, and we no longer see the exchange of proper ideas, but rather, a solidification of one’s ready-formed mindset—the bubble mindset.”
– Jack Sargeant AM
He called for more compromise and more mutual respect, adding that kindness shouldn’t be seen as a weakness, but a strength.
After Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinwfwr) quoted civil rights campaigner and author, James Baldwin, about creating a “politics of love”, Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North) noted a deterioration in the working climate at the Senedd since she was first elected in 2011.
“….when I came here it did seem a more consensual Chamber. It did seem that people looked to where they agreed as well as where they disagreed, and I felt that there was a great deal of mutual respect. But I do feel that that has deteriorated over the last few years, and I feel that….we have not always been very good examples recently, and I think it has become more confrontational. There’s been more shouting and there’s been less tolerance of each other as individuals.”
– Julie Morgan AM
Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) accepted that AMs sometimes forget that everyone has a right to be heard and that, “when passions are high, we say things that we’d like to stuff back down our throats”. He hoped that Jack’s call wouldn’t fall on deaf ears.