The Daily Mail thinks so, as they rename the House of Commons the House of Twits. I’m sure that the name is appropriate generally, but I happen to think that the new social media, like Twitter and Facebook, not to mention MPs’ blogs, are a handy way for us to communicate with MPs and replies are often received, albeit often sarcastic ones. Surely anything which increases politicians’ interactions with us proles has to be a good thing?
The Mail reckons that,
They spend 1,000 hours a year chatting to constituents, friends and even complete strangers on the social networking site.
It is not clear if this is per MP or in total. It surely cannot be per MP as this would equate to about twenty hours a week each, so if the total amount of tweeting is 1,000 hours from 650 MPs then the average is about an hour and a half per year. Big deal.
In one week alone this summer, MPs tapped out nearly 2,500 ‘tweets’ on everything from energy policy, a joke about the Dalai Lama or meeting voters.
Of the 275 MPs who are said to use Twitter, this averages out at nine tweets per week each. Not a lot.
Of course, some MPs tweet quite a lot. Kerry McCarthy, the former Twitter Tsar (or Tsarina, as I used to call her, before she blocked me), is the champion MP tweetmeister (or tweetmeisterin, as we are being politically incorrect, but grammatically spot on) with over 27,500 tweets.
Number two is Tom Harris, with over 21,000 tweets, quite a few of which are insults directed to me! A few days ago he called me “insane” and then he insinuated that I was “daft” which seemed like a compliment in comparison.
At least he hasn’t blocked me yet, unlike several MPs, all Labour. Eric Joyce, at number 9, is one of the Labour MPs who had enough of me after we had what I thought was a good tweeting rapport. I even had a pet name for him: Brando (he knows why). But late one night, I took him to task for his bad language and he blocked me. I am sure that he broke one of the rules for sensible tweeting by doing it while having had too much to drink. Very soon after, he was arrested for alleged drink driving.
Maybe I should have given the no swearing advice to Tom. The Mail chose to reproduce this tweet of his from yesterday:
Hmm. I might consider supporting death penalty for the little sh**s who knicked the satnav and the fascia for my radio out of my car . . .
And I might consider the death penalty for the little bleeps who have committed treason against my country.
The most annoying thing about 7th placed Louise Mensch’s Twitter presence is that she has had that horrible green profile picture for about the past year.
Although not in the Top Ten, Ed Miliband gets a special mention. I had a brief Twitter encounter with him in November 2009, just before the big Copenhagen Climate Change conference, when he was the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. I asked him,
Are you absolutely sure that your facts about ‘climate change’ are correct before promising away billions of pounds?
He tried to assure me that he knew what he was talking about,
yes,at met office today.CO2 concentrations highest for 650,000 years.co2 link to temp. clear, scientific effect
He didn’t respond to my point that it was much warmer in the Middle Ages.
This illustrates one of the negative aspects of Twitter. The other person can just stop talking to you. You can’t do a Paxman and say, “I really must press you for an answer” – “Did you threaten to overrule him?” – “Come on!”.
And they can block you from ever contacting them again as easily as ejecting Walter Wolfgang from Party Conference.
The Mail reminds us that…
Two years ago, David Cameron famously made clear he was no fan when he unguardedly told a radio station that ‘the trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it – [is that] too many twits might make a tw*t’. He later apologised for his language.
Were that true, he would have been top of the list. So come on, Dave, let’s have some tweeting. Unfortunately, nobody will believe a word you say.
[Picture from here]