In the Leaders Debate Cameron uttered the immortal line “a 40-year old black man made the point to me: ‘I came here when I was six, I’ve served in the Royal Navy for 30 years”. The fact that Cameron thought it important to make the point that he had conversation with people irrespective of ethnicity came across as preposterous – as daft as the idea that this guy had joined the navy at the age of 10.
Well it didn’t take long for the web to take the proverbial with the Cameron anecdote generator. The model is the same as the ‘airbrushed for change’ poster generator and it uses the same mug shot. Click the poster to take you to the site and randomise the anecdote.
Today’s YouGov poll reveals a huge surge in support for the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg’s performance in the first of three TV debates has put the LibDems in 2nd place ahead of Labour and just three points behind the Tories. The figures published in The Sun this morning show Conservative 33%(-4), Labour 28%(-3), LibDem 30%(+8). The effect on our poll of polls average will be seen if and when further polls reflect this shift.
The LibDem bounce is likely to enjoy the considerable oxygen of publicity which may boost their share further setting up a scenario where they are a contender genuine contender for to win, in time for the 2nd TV debate next Thursday. So is this the TV election or can it still be influenced by social media. Well it is both. The verdict on who had won the election came first from social networks. Social media analytics companies were measuring sentiment in real time and publishing the data whilst the debate was still in flow. Clegg’s performance delivered 10,000 additional fans on Facebook and in the coming days the force of the groundswell in social media support for the third party (or do we now say second?) will make the leap into mainstream commentary.
A video clip from last night’s election debate was blocked on YouTube today on the basis of copyright infringement. Yes in case you were wondering this is the same ITV that used YouTube to pump out clips of Susan Boyle driving millions of viewers to their Saturday night ratings grabber ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. No copyright problems for that show.
So what was the real reason for the cease and delete order to our favourite clips network? ITV discovered what Skittles or the organisers of any social media conference could have told them. Using an unmoderated live twitter feed is asking for trouble.
Nick Brett or @MullerNick as he is better known normally has an audience of 32 Followers but ITV handed him another 9 and a half million when they showed his first class commentary on Cameron’s TV debate performance.
The social media pundits, Election10 included, all said twitter would play an important role in the televised debate. They weren’t wrong.
Back in February we speculated as to whether Sarah Brown’s twitter account might form part of Labour’s social media election strategy. It is difficult to see how it can play a major part but it will continue help to soften Gordon’s image and it is likely add significantly to its 1.1 million followers in the next four weeks.
There is no doubt that this is Sarah’s account but it does show significant signs of being ‘managed’. Her follower numbers have been in steady decline this year – possibly bots being removed – but went into increase yesterday on the eve of the election call.
Either way, if you check the video above Sarah has made it clear she’s going to keep on tweeting.
Now the campaign proper is in full effect and the media beast needs feeding on an hourly basis, one of the big questions on the lips of journalists is “will Facebook and twitter change the course of the election?”. The answer is of course “yes and no”.
Social media will have less impact in the UK in 2010 than in the US in 2008 for a number of reasons:
- Social networks are not as instant as people believe they take time to build. In the US fixed term system this meant they could start more than a year in advance. We have four weeks.
- We vote for local MPs. We don’t vote for a president (or even a prime minister). Social groups coalesce better around iconic individuals.
- We have national ‘mainstream media’ in a way that the US does not.
- The US is bigger, with different time zones so ‘opt in’ media that isn’t constrained by time or schedules works better.
In addition there is no party or individual that has achieved a huge level of traction in any of the social networks, with the exception of Sarah Brown who isn’t a politician. In the “yes” camp there are some persuasive arguments:
- The verdict on the all important TV debates will be on-line and will be democratic. We saw this in the Ask The Chancellor debates on Channel 4.
- In a real sense people will participate in the debate and if an issue trends the politicians will have to answer.
- Social media means that the media is ‘always on’, far more so than 24 hour TV news. Any banana skins and we’ll know as soon as the politicians do.
It’s still the view at Election 10 that the vote will be on May 6th but the idea that Brown will go to the Palace tomorrow to seek a dissolution is frankly a load of toss. Why? Because he doesn’t have to.
The last date for calling an election to be held on the 6th of May is next Monday (12th April) and that is when it will most likely happen. Any sooner and that will mean that the phony war is over and the campaign will be stepped up several gears. The shorter the campaign the better as far as GB and the Labour Party are concerned. The Tory party coffers are much deeper than Labour’s and that means more money for campaigning and costly advertising. Calling the election tomorrow will put the socialist fighting fund at risk of running out before the plebiscite. That, quite simply, is why it won’t happen.
Note: this article made a bold and perhaps with the benefit of hindsight foolhardy claim about the date the election would/would not be called. It was amended late on Monday 5th April but the original is intact as you can see for your (and our) amusement.