A little bit more on politics and social media

History be damned. You can't get through a Prime Ministerial leadership debate without the urge to make the occasional sarcastic comment, and some cheese straws. Twitter - and social media - can't provide the latter but it made watching the first of the three leadership debates a lot more entertaining than if I was just sat by myself in front of the TV. And pretty much every big media player devoted airspace and column inches to just that.

Certainly if you want evidence of an electorate engaged and responding to politicians then Twitter and Facebook made tonight's debate hard to ignore. Want to fact check Cameron's use of Bulgarian cancer rates? There's people exchanging info via social networks as soon as he opened his mouth.

In a strange kind of way, responding to the politicians in real time made you feel a lot closer to the action and reaction. Even if the conversation was a bit one-sided (not their fault - the leaders can't Tweet and debate on TV at once), it felt like the electorate having its say.

Certainly, pretty much every news site worth its salt was pulling in from social media. I could only get ITV's worm working briefly, but their social offering was very decent, as were other sites.

The downside is you still get some rather unpleasant partisan bloggers making a lot of noise and generally trying to hijack the area. The Lib Dems got a slapping down for trying to game the Guardian's live poll. Naughty.

Unsurprisingly, since then, each party has claimed the victory. Indeed, when you looked at the party political Tweets it felt like a lot of people shouting among each other rather than many any attempt whatsoever to engage.

In all honesty, political parties are no different from many other big organisations. Many of them like to talk about how engaged they are online but in reality they're either using it to talk at people rather than with them. Politics has always rather easily fallen into that trap anyway, so it's no surprise to see the same online.


A few other random bits and pieces that I can't quite be bothered to create a new post for, but here's as good a place as any to put them.

Several weeks ago I wrote to my MP, via 38 Degrees, about the Digital Economy Bill and my concerns. Impressively, my MP wrote back, via post, almost immediately. Since then, they've written to me two more times updating my on their efforts with the bill, their concerns and what they planned to do next.

What they didn't tell me was they didn't turn up for the vote.

Cheers. That's nice to know you're so concerned on my behalf that you don't think voting's necessary.

[In fairness, there may be a good explanation as to why they didn't turn up to vote, but given they're a London-based MP that's pretty poor if there isn't one. I'm trying to find out why but haven't heard yet].

And if you want a really good breakdown of voting on the #debill and why this is yet another reason why politics is broken, Chris Applegate at qwghlm.co.uk is particularly good on this.