Simon McManus

Javascript Engineer

Politics, Twitter and Accessibility (politically speaking)

I used to love politics. Over the last four or five years I've developed a dislike for it.  I was starting to think I had maybe grown out of it or maybe I'm no-longer so idealistic and naive.

Some interesting things have been happening recently, I bumped into @absond on the train into work a good few months back. He told me about BarCampUKGovWeb which sounded quite interesting.

Ive since started following a number of blogs from people that work in and around government. I've even started to follow the blogs of some MP's. I have so far followed all MP's I am aware of regardless of party.

I don't pay particular attention to every post but rather scan read whatever they choose to blog. As more MP's start to blog I will need to become more selective. At the moment its interesting just to see what our representatives feel comfortable blogging about.

The other day this post from Lynne Featherstone caught my attention.  She talks about human rights in China in relation to the Olympics.  An issue at the front of my mind after going to see the Olympic torch pass St Paul's the previous week.  We didn't actually see the torch, it was bundled onto a bus with the Chinese thugs just before it got to us. Regardless I found Lynne's post quite agreeable.

Normally in this situation I would drop a comment on the blog to show my agreement. Unfortunately Lynne's blog is not quite a real blog. You can't add comments.  Here is what is really cool though, Lynne's on Twitter. So I tweeted her.

The Downing Twitter feed is rather interesting. @DowningStreet. It provides updates, responds to questions and actually provides an interesting insight into life at Downing Street.

The @Conservative twitter feed even impressed me yesterday. I was getting ready for work when they tweeted that David Cameron was going to be interviewed on BBC 1 just after 8am… and they wanted feedback. So I watched. And then I replied :

"@Conservatives - not bad - Your still not getting my vote. Just to confirm. Are you left or right these days?"

It was slightly sarcastic and I wasn't particularly expecting a reply. When I arrived at work an hour later there was a reply from the Conservative  Party.

"@simonmcmanus Thanks for your feedback, and we're on the centre-right!"

For the first the first time in my life I had engaged in a two way conversation with a political party!

The 140 character constraint removes some of the formality associated with blogging and email.   I sure as hell wouldn't have written that in an email.  Even an email of the same length. Twitter, it would seem is making politicians more accessible. Or at least making politicians appear more accessible.

I'm really interested to see how this all develops. I'm loving the idea of my MP being on Twitter.  Lets hope Eleanor Lang (my MP) is listening.  I would love to see politicians adopting these tools because they provide a  highly effective communications platform.

I should thank http://puffbox.com/ for keeping me informed about the latest politicians using Twitter.  Interesting to see that @brianpaddick , @backboris are both using Twitter.

Politics and politicians can often seem invisible and unaccountable. Twitter could start to change that.  Given that MP's claim to represent us in parliament I don't think its wrong to wonder…..What are they doing?

April 23rd 2008