#AskTheChancellors and Twitter

According to the TwapperKeeper Twitter archiving service since yesterday there have been 3,713 tweets published containing the #AskTheChancellors hashtag. No doubt the political commentators and the political parties themselves have been analysing this archive of last night’s live TV debate between Alastair Darling, the Chancellor and his two rivals in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat’s party.

And in his recent speech on Building Britain’s Digital Future Gordon Brown mentioned that “Each week I record a podcast and use twitter most days“.

What might this be telling us? Perhaps use of Twitter is starting to become an important part of the political debate, with tweets becoming the twenty-first century’s equivalent to the heckles at election meetings – sometimes rude or irrelevant   but an important part of the democratic process. And the archiving and analysis of such tweets is likely to grow in importance – with the dangers that, as has been seen recently, that such discussions can be hijacked.

More importantly surely it needs to be acknowledged that dismissing Twitter as being a waste of time and full of irrelevancies is missing the point.  There will also be a lot of trivia being discussed on telephones, but nobody refuses to use the telephone because of this.  Or perhaps, in the past, people did, with a secretary being used to manage the access.  But in the near future will not having a twitter account be on par with not having a TV or mobile phone – yes, we can understand valid reasons why some people may make such a decision, but, secretly, we regard such people as being somewhat strange?


  1. While Twitter is becoming more important to the political debate, that doesn’t mean debate and opinion will be listened to properly. For instance, the #debill hashtag has well over 12000 tweets at time of writing, the vast majority of which is against pushing the Digital Economy Bill through in the ‘wash-up’ without proper debate.

    So people want a debate and are discussing important political issues via Twitter. Like having a TV or a phone, we’ll use Twitter to debate amongst ourselves and to consume other people’s opinions. However, also as with TV and phone, I fear the platform won’t be used effectively to respond to what the public are thinking.

    I hope I’m proved wrong.

    • Although you may be right that comments made on Twitter and other electronic fora will not necessarily be listened to, is this any different to the government failing to respond to although examples of mass public protest?



  1. Twitter and the Digital Economy Bill « UK Web Focus - [...] #AskTheChancellors and Twitter [...]

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