The use of social media by Politicians, along with the rules or limitations that they want to set for others shows an incoherence that crosses political divides and operates at both a local and a national level. One of the outcomes of the Lobbying Bill was that charities were expected to ensure that time spent on social media by employees and even volunteers, if focused on matters that could be considered as campaigning for a political outcome, should be accounted for. It is hard to imagine how such a policy could possibly be fulfilled, unless of course the charity had the resources to police the social media output from its staff and volunteers. The risk is that charities get tied up in knots over matters that are frankly ridiculous. Meanwhile the real politicians seem to know no bounds when it comes to their own use of social media. A few weeks ago when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party, his appointment was greeted by a series of tweets by the Prime Minister and his colleagues arguing that Mr Corbyn is a threat to national security. The only way that David Cameron could know this, is if he had access to security data on his opposite number which seems a rather concerning situation. By releasing this data in public, he was surely breaking all sorts of national security rules and then as a fellow blogger discovered, he has broken all sorts of rules in not being willing to disclose what he actually knows.
At a more local level, as I have written before, one of the MEPs for the South East, Daniel Hannan appears happy to use twitter to express his views on all sorts of issues. When I contacted him to ask him to account for his last year as my MEP he explained that he would not enter into such discussions on twitter, but he would do so if I emailed him. A month later he has not even acknowledged that he has received my email. Daniel and the leader of our local Council, Warren Morgan have also demonstrated a form of censure to constituents in the sense that when people challenge them to strongly, they block these challengers on twitter so that the people cannot follow them, even though these are public accounts. It appears that some of our politicians wish to choose who can follow them and read their tweets. Beyond this, there are many MPs, MEPs and Councillors who are very selective on how far they will go to respond to tweets they are sent. Clearly some of this is due to the volume of comments they are asked to respond to, but in other cases the decision seems to be based on the unwillingness of such elected representatives to engage in discussions they feel is not in their interest.
Perhaps Politicians of the future will be men and women who are either fully proficient and open on the various channels of social media that they subscribe to, or will remain entirely isolated from such modern forms of communication. They might also hold a more coherent view of how others should use such techniques. We can but hope.