Politicians on Twitter: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Strawberries and cream. Beans and toast. Batman and Robin. Some things just go together perfectly. Politicians and Twitter? Not so sure about that one. As it stands, 460 UK MPs are active on Twitter. That’s 71% of all MPs in the Britain. In an increasingly digital world it is more important than ever for politicians to have an online presence. As we all know, Twitter is a fantastic tool for communication, and what better way for politicians to connect with constituents, particularly the younger demographic. Some politicians use Twitter well, utilising its ability to allow them to put across key news and views. Some politicians… well let’s just say they should perhaps take a look at our blog post about the rules of social media. So let’s take a closer look at politicians on Twitter: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly…
Barack Obama / Jamie Reed / Arnold Schwarzenegger I won’t lie, finding politicians who have good Twitter feeds was no easy feat. People tweeting ABOUT politicians, nay bother. But politicians themselves? Wow! These three politicians demonstrate how a politician should use Twitter:
- Provide useful, interesting information
- Engage and don’t be afraid to use humour
- Be the Terminator
Barack Obama’s Twitter feed primarily focuses on providing information and breaking news on legislation etc. The account itself is run by Organizing for Action staff and tweets from the president himself are signed ‘-bo’. Unsurprisingly, President Obama’s Twitter is the most followed for a politician with an impressive 65.1 million followers - that's nearly 30 million more than Kim Kardashian!
Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland, Cumbria, may not be the most well-known politician but his Twitter feed is frequently mentioned as being one of the best for an MP. While he provides some good information on the social and economic state of the country, where he really excels is slagging off other politicians. Example Tweets:
I don't mind Nick Clegg announcing the planting of a million trees. It's laudable. I support it. But.. — Jamie Reed (@jreedmp) November 7, 2013
When ANY politician announces what is essentially gardening as an achievement of office, then we're in ferocious trouble, people. — Jamie Reed (@jreedmp) November 7, 2013
Conversely, my lavender disappointed this year and my sage might be knackered. But they were never campaign promises... — Jamie Reed (@jreedmp) November 7, 2013
And lastly, good old Arnie, who has been included in the Good, largely due to his Twitter bio: He does tweet some good content as well, 60% political articles, views, events etc. 40% body building tips. Win win!
It is ArnoldSchnitzel. https://t.co/0VyrBCtZix — Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) October 6, 2015
Bonus Point: The fact that his Snapchat name is ArnoldSchnitzel is just fantastic!
Mark Reckless / Steve Brine / Michael Meacher / Ed Balls These three can pretty much be tarred with the same brush: dull, repetitive and stale. I’m sure Mark Reckless, Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, is a perfectly nice man, but as a Twitter user, he fails miserably. His feed is boring, uninspired and worst of all, makes absolutely no attempt to engage.
A year ago David Cameron said that EU migration "will be at the very heart of my renegotiation strategy". Really?— Mark Reckless (@MarkReckless) October 11, 2015
Steve Brine, Conservative MP for Winchester, can often be found lurking on ‘The Worst Politicians on Twitter’ lists, and he’s usually near the top. politics.co.uk sums up his feed perfectly: “Boredom interspersed with moments of genuine horror.” Most of his tweets are standard, boring tweets but every now and then he tweets something that is a real ‘What was he thinking’ moment: “Take my hat & everything else (well almost everything) off to the good ppl of East Stratton 4 another cracking fete.” I can’t remember the last time I felt such passion towards a village fete. Also note his despicable grammar and ‘TXT’ speak. Not cool, Steve. Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, has a Twitter feed that could be used as a bedtime story for a child who refuses to sleep. Not much to say other than he tweets nothing of interest, makes no attempt to engage and his feed is 90% retweeted articles from ‘Left Future.’ Ed Balls' feed isn't terrible, but he deserves to be on the list for this one particular gaff. Note to self: Check yourself, before you tweet yourself!
Ed Balls — Ed Balls (@edballs) April 28, 2011
John Prescott / Nick Griffin / Sally Bercow Oh you guys. These three really need to sit down and rethink how they conduct themselves on Twitter (and in life). You were issued with a guide, use it! John Prescott, former deputy Prime Minister, doesn’t have the worst Twitter feed around but he committed a rather embarrassing Twitter faux pas which earned him a place in the Ugly. Essentially Prescott spotted an advert for Thai brides on Tory MP Grant Shapp’s website and was quick to tweet Shapp’s about it, in a bid to publicly humiliate him. However, unfortunately for John, Grant was able to point out that the adverts on the site were generated by each individual user’s internet history… awkward. Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party… not much explanation needed here. Essentially Griffin’s Twitter feed is an extension of his nonsensical views and vile personality. His general feed is pretty dull, articles, idiotic musings etc. But every now and then he can be guaranteed to tweet something that sums up his personality: And lastly, Sally Bercow. Yes we know she isn’t herself a politician (married to the Speaker of the House of Commons) but she has committed too many crimes against Twitter to be ignored in the Ugly. Bercow sent a libellous tweet about Lord McAlpine and had to pay damages to him as a result. She also named a schoolgirl involved in an abduction case; despite the fact a court order was in place to protect the girl’s identity. Bercow deleted her Twitter account, but reinstated it a week later. The account is still active now, however, all activity bar one tweet has been removed from the feed. Probably for the best....
I have apologised sincerely to Lord McAlpine in court - I hope others have learned tweeting can inflict real harm on people's lives. — Sally Bercow (@SallyBercow) October 22, 2013
To be honest, we were struggling to justify which category to place this next item in. On the one hand, it is an utter fail from someone who should have people who know better. On the other, the fallout was hilarious. Let's picture the scene. David Cameron sits on the phone, discussing important politics with our man Obama, when suddenly, an idea strikes... I should post this on Twitter. It's at this point that someone should have removed the selfie stick from his hand, but, alas, they did not. What followed was a viral sensation of such scale, it rivals the Kardashians... MEMES! The whole of the UK patched themselves into that call, including the legend that is Sir Patrick Stewart. Enjoy!
.@robdelaney @David_Cameron @BarackObama I'm now patched in as well. Sorry for the delay. pic.twitter.com/elLQcKcV3w — Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew) March 5, 2014
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