Social Media, Embarrassing Your Politicians Into Listening To The People
The last year has seen few highs but many lows in UK politics. With no party outright winning the 2010 election, we managed to accidentally elect a Conservative coalition government with a light sprinkling of Liberal Democrats for fun. The old two party system is dying on us. Political parties are starting to blur, the middle ground is up for grabs by anyone fast enough to claim it. And what are the politicians resorting to to help them become more popular and heard? Social networking.
More to the point, the people are using Social Media in return, to hold them accountable and usually, at hilarious expense!
A prime example of this is last years election campaign. 2010 was the first time the UK had ever held a live TV debate, spanning three different shows. As the nation sat at home watching the three party leaders tell useless and irrelevant (and factually flawed) anecdotes, Tweeting about the stupidity of it all really took off. David Cameron, trying to depict himself as being "in touch with reality" and sympathetic towards other social groups, was spinning tear-jerking and cringe-worthy stories left, right and centre (which, ironically, is also the amount of political ground he thinks he controls)
'I was in Plymouth recently and a 40-year-old black man...said, 'I came here when I was six, I've served in the Royal Navy for 30 years, I'm incredibly proud of my country. "
Come again? He's 40 and he's already served in the Navy for 30 years? I'm pretty sure the UK doesn't force 10-year-olds in the armed services. Oh dear. This was the quote which hit Twitter and Facebook with full force. Everyone noticed the age mistake, and more to the point, that there was absolutely no reason to mention that he was a black man.
"@mrmidnightuk: he'll tell us he's not racist and that his best friend is indeed black!!"
"I'm bored of hearing about these trips. I've been to nottingham recently but I don't bang on about it."
The significant backlash which took off on social media after this was crippling. Some genius also seized the chance to use the Internet to further belittle Cameron by making a "Who David Cameron Met Next" website which generated random anecdotes:
And it was because of the sheer abundance of Tweets, that Cameron didn't tell any further stories in the next debate. Social media 1- Politicians 0.
Social Media, A United Platform
Social Media offers everyone an equal footing for freedom of expression without spin doctors or too many regulations. When current affairs are at large, most people have an opinion and they can express that to the masses via networking. You can join the online debates via the comfort of your own living room.
Another example is the online frenzy which took place when MP Ken Clarke said in a live interview that you could have less serious types of rape crime. Well, as you can imagine, this kicked up a social media storm. The press, as well as strong arguments and statements made about Ken Clarke, forced him to apologise for his remarks. It was a story which trended heavily in UK Twitter feeds.
It's not always the general public which are getting MPs into trouble. Family members tweeting about them has caused a tension. UK Parliament is under the control of "The Speaker". A supposedly non bias individual who moderates political debates in The Commons. In February of this year, The Speakers wife posed naked under a bed sheet standing in front of window overlooking the houses of Parliament. Not only was this photo of her splashed across social media feeds, she then claimed it was all a hoax and she had been fooled into it and that it was meant to be for her husbands eyes only. Using Twitter as her defense tool, she tweeted non stop about how personal and political lives should be kept separate and how it does not reflect on her husband. Truth of the matter is, social media is a dangerous tool if you are someone who can hold a lot of sway and demands respect. Tweeting blushing apologies and cover up stories is not a reasonable way to say sorry for stupid behavior. If your husband holds political power, think before you tweet naked photos of yourself. The truth is that is both embarrassing and hurtful for the other people in your life. His wife's reckless networking behavior and bitchy tweeting about other MPs, and even their families, has caused problems for him and now MPs want him removed from his post. Is this fair when it wasn't him actually causing any trouble? Think before you tweet, it could have dire consequences for people around you as well as your own sense of morality.
Social Media is an outlet, a stage for you and your ideas. Most people have a view about current affairs and these sites are excellent at being able to voice them. These tools help get the voices heard and with more and more politicians knowing they have to start taking this social media lark seriously, it's the new way of helping to keep your elected parties accountable. Tweet and tweet loudly, the likelihood is that it will be heard by the right people and if enough of you share the same opinions, change may well just happen.
Who Wrote This Article
I'm Nikki and I work as part of MarketMeSuite the social media marketing dashboard. And big news... we're now free! Please check it out and be sure to let me know what you think.
Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament
This article was written for MarketMeSuite's exclusive blog website: http://wearesocialpeople.com/