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Comment: Actions speak louder that tweets - or retweets - Dr Frosh
I was a little taken aback when I learned last week that Hertfordshire’s deputy police commissioner, Rachel Frosh, had resigned.
Her departure came in the wake of a self-inflicted media hubbub caused by her retweeting a picture and a quote of Adolf Hitler on Twitter.
The tweet read: “Dear #Socialists embrace your inner #Nazisim”. In the quote attached, from 1927, the Nazi leader describes his party as socialist and expresses his hatred of capitalism. The retweet was provocative and upset some other users of the social media site.
But it seemed more the naive action of a political dilettante who had not adjusted to her elevation as a high-profile public office rather than a blunder necessitating she fall on her sword.
Since her resignation Dr Frosh has penned a number of blogposts and letters explaining the retweet. In her letter to this paper, she seems to be under the misapprehension that all the fuss about her retweet was to do with the media wanting to stifle discussion of the Nazis.
Here I think Dr Frosh may have missed the point.
No one is denying her right to publicly debate the political origins of Nazism. That said, that was not what she was doing with the contentious retweet.
She was disseminating a partisan point aimed at provoking people on the left of the political spectrum by linking them with Hitler.
Personally, I can’t see much in common with any wing of mainstream UK politics and the Third Reich’s psychotic creed of extermination. I also fail to see what is to be gained by trying to link political opponents to such an unequivocally evil movement.
But we are a country that values free speech – unlike Hitler’s Germany. If people want to use Hitler to make crass and insensitive political points, they are free to do so.
The difference is that when Dr Frosh retweeted the picture and quote she was not just a member of Joe Public. She was a senior Hertfordshire politician, wielding influence over a police force that protects more than a million residents. It is natural that they will take more interest in what she does and says.
On her blog, Dr Frosh explained she resigned to avoid causing further problems for her boss – police commissioner David Lloyd – but also as she wanted to answer the questions surrounding the retweet and to retain her freedom to comment on politics.
She said: “So I have therefore resigned – because he (Mr Lloyd) needs to get on with his job, and I want to answer these questions, and also be able to comment on national political issues.”
I find it bizarre Dr Frosh appears to value commenting on national political issues over serving as deputy police commissioner.
I had always assumed (possibly naively) the point of politics and political careers was to achieve things of substance.
Anyone can make their views known on national politics. Few are given the chance to actually put their principles into action.
So if Dr Frosh wants to dedicate herself to fulminating on the political sidelines that is her prerogative.
It is probably the safest place for her and, by the look of it, also the residents of Hertfordshire.