23 Apr 2010

In which Hestia gets all political.......

Candidates may still need to pound the pavements shaking hands and kissing babies to ingratiate themselves with their voters, but there is a new dimension to this UK Election: Twitter.

And I don’t just mean the Big Gun party leaders themselves hopping on the American President's bandwagon (follow him @barackobama), but there is a
whole new raft of information that we can get, via Twitter, that we have not experienced before.

The party leaders jump through the flaming hoops of a TV debate…and on Twitter, the people that you follow (ie the people whose opinions are of interest to you) who are watching the debate along with you, all start to chatter about the points being made.

A really bright spark points out that one candidate says ‘If I were your PM’ six times – and you wonder whether he is sending some kind of subliminal message to voters.

The newspapers lumber into attack mode: a campaign arises against one of the candidates – the reward for doing well in the TV debate. He is transformed from Churchill to Hitler in one fell swoop!

Suddenly Twitter swings into action with people alerting followers to blogs, giving links to the old misquoted articles in full – showing the British media moguls for the biased decaying dinosaurs that they really are. The
internet, via Twitter, allows us a portal to political platforms in a way that we have NEVER had before

People tweet questions about policy to their followers and are tweeted back immediately with links to various policy documents on websites, crits on blogs, lampooning websites, spoof twitter accounts. All of it prodding and nipping us into Thinking For Ourselves!

Political wives are in on the act in an entirely new way – reporting their progress on the campaign trail from a fascinating insider’s viewpoint. Helping us work out what we think of these women as real people, bunions and all .

The politicians know that THIS time, we are chatting and discussing their performances and policies in a way that has never been seen before. Newspaper reports can be almost instantaneously panned or lauded, zapped
around the world in the length of time it takes to type 140 characters and a shortened url link.

Twitter is helping politicians AND their critics reach new audiences and heralds a new dawn in the way politics can be experienced in the UK.

With the huge variety of APIs available for Twitter, it should be possible for instantaneous sampling of the electorate using polls, inviting feedback and who knows what else as Twitter further develops and hones its abilities.

It’s not impossible to imagine in the near future that MPs will be able to create lists of all tweeters registered in their constituency – regardless of whether they are of the same political ‘faith’ to encourage a wide and open debate.

But it’s not all a Brave New World. There are, sadly, some very...aggressive....people on Twitter whose tirades of barely literate ranting reminds us that there can be a mob mentality springs up in the Twitterverse.

You only have to look at the abuse that astrologer Robert Currey experienced on his Face Book account after he responded to @profbriancox about the validity of astrology:   http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=267856933681. Vile - whether you believe in astrology or not.

Not everyone has a Twitter account, so the old tried and tested avenues cannot be abandoned – but the new political opportunities that Twitter offers are phenomenal.

Welcome to the new chattering class.


  1. Ali -

    Hestia needs to add another dimension - and another blog - as a social commentator! :) Well written, very well expressed, very good over-view!


  2. This is all true,and it heartens me. I have at least 5 friends who haven't voted in the last 3 elections we have been able to, but who have actually registered for this one, and I think the same is happening everywhere. It will be interesting to see what the figures are this year. I like the open debate side of it too - previously, we could only talk to a few people about things at the time, where as now, it's UK wide.

    The downside to both social networks and free speech is that some people do take it to far. I am atheist, I don't believe in ghosts, and I don't understand(but that's not to say I completely reject) tarot and other such things, but I'm not about to give someone abuse because they do. I think people forget that just as they are allowed to have their opinions and belief systems and politics, so are other people.

    When people can't put across an educated point of view though, I do think most people immediately discount it, which is something.

  3. Lisa-Marie - In my other goddess incarnation, I'm the Chairman of the Tarot Association of The British Isles (TABI).

    Lot's of people have misconceptions about Tarot (I'm not an astrologer, so couldn't comment on that), but a good, ethical Tarotist should help you see the query in question in a new light - one that empowers and helps you to take action.

    There is no psychic or otherworldly input required ;-) We're more like Counsellors these days than Mystic Meg!

    Bonnie - oh, the last thing you want is me ranting on about social injustice!

    Ali x

  4. Wow, the comments on that FB page were something :-( It is a real concern that those who should be most open-minded, willing to explore - 'blue sky thinkers' ie. scientists - are so often quite the opposite. To me, this is not a true love of knowledge; something should be researched thoroughly before one trashes it.

  5. pretty sure that scientists could mount a pretty could case against astrology. Sadly, the people who actually attacked the astrologer were not scientists, but mob fans of Prof Brian.

    I wonder when scientists will realise the gap between the woo-woo world and the quantum physics world is growing closer - not further apart - every day they discover something new!

    And that's not a prompt to start discussing that Shroedinger's Cat thing that you keep trying to explain to me......

  6. LOL Alison. But Brian Cox said in his prog that ''astrology was rubbish''. Very scientific and open-minded.


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