Since The PM called the election there have been two hashtags vying for dominance in political twitter feeds. #GE2017 was the natural evolution of #GE2015 the popular tag from last time round. However the lighter, more efficient #GE17 was getting almost as much use. The wisdom of crowds suggesting that the world was ready for a lean, mean version.
Earlier today however Twitter effectively killed off the shorter version rolling out a Twitter emoji for the election .
A Twitter emoji appears when a hashtag generates an icon created by Twitter. It may be a national flag or another small image created for a major event. #GE2017 generates the emoji as does #GeneralElection but #GE17.
Farewell then, #GE17. You burned brightly but were very brief.
Delia Smith, the nations favourite cook, has followed actor and comedian Steve Coogan with a plea for voters to vote Labour. She warns that Conservatives would be a “recipe for disaster” for the NHS and believe that under a Tory government it would be “run like a supermarket.”
Steve Coogan issued a video over the Bank Holiday weekend saying that the election “is on a knife-edge”. Coogan is no stranger to campaigning in the public eye as a prominent member of Hacked Off, the campaign for media regulation.
There has never been a closer election in the history of the UK and in the first past the post constituency system there is every chance that your vote will count for nothing.
There is much talk of tactical voting especially in Scotland where there is usually just one real alternative to voting SNP in each constituency. The UK sytem can lead to a strong sense that if the party you support isn’t popular in your constituency there is little point in voting.
A new platform called Swap My Vote offers a potential a way to make your vote count. The Swap my Vote platform helps pair voters who want to swap, each casting each other’s preferred vote in a constituency where where it could really count. Swap my Vote introduces two individuals to each other and the ballot stays secret. You are responsible for trusting your partner.
This isn’t totally new. Pairing takes place in the House of Commons, where a member who can’t attend, say for health reasons, pairs with an MP on the opposite bench, to cancel out each others vote. In the USA vote swapping was found by the Supreme Court to be protected speech under the First Amendment.
In the 2010 election, an average of just 29% of votes cast gave a candidate victory and over half of votes were for losing candidates. In a sense 70% of votes were ‘wasted’. There’s no way of knowing how many voters will take up the offer and what the level of trust will be but it’s nothing if not an ingenious attempt to deal with the concept of ‘wasted votes’.
Grant Shapps is caught up in another row about manipulating his public profile. He used the pseudonym Michael Green for more than a year after he first became an MP to run an internet business, something he continually denied until his denials were exposed and pictures emerged of him at a US internet conference badged as “Michael Green”.
The latest row is over claims that he was involved in editing his Wikipedia entry to remove references to this scandal and other embarassing entries. A Wikipedia user called Contribsx systematically removed material from his page and added negative commentary to the pages of some of his political rivals.
Wikipedia editors said that they “believe that the account Contribsx is a sockpuppet of Grant Shapps’ previous accounts on Wikipedia … and based on the evidence the account is either run by Shapps directly or being run by someone else, an assistant or a PR agency, but under his clear direction.” The user’s account has been blocked after Wikipedia investigation.
The Lib Dems took immediate advantage and put out a press release from Paddy Ashdown saying “Grant is a wonderful guy – he is a credit to the Conservative Party …and if, like me, you have been lucky enough to meet him, you know you have been touched by greatness. Quite simply, a colossus.”
In a note to editors at the bottom it said the release had been edited by Contribsx.
David Cameron has nearly 150,000 fake followers on Twitter, around 15% of the total, according to an article in the Daily Mirror yesterday. We are told that Nadine Dorries and William Hague have an even great percentage of bogus tweeters following their accounts.
How much actual research did The Mirror do to establish these numbers? Well not much actually, they used just one tool Status People’s Fakers App. They themselves say “our scores are relatively accurate for larger Twitter Accounts”. Hardly conclusive then.
Take a closer look at the Mirror story and it’s clear that they’re not sure either. The article says “15% of them appear to be fake”, “MPs most likely to have “fake” followers”, “21% of their followers apparently being fake”. There are more caveats here than in a Hollywood pre-nup.
That said, Twitter is absolutely full of fake accounts, so here at Ballot Blogs we decided to check how many fake followers The Daily Mirror has. We used three tools TwitterAudit, Social Bakers Fake Followers and the Fakers App used by The Mirror. The results were startling. Twitter Audit said The Mirror had 39.6% fake followers, Social Bakers put it higher at 41%, Fakers App said 16% Fake and 48% inactive. It seems @DailyMirror has more fake followers than the prime minister or indeed any of the politicians in their league of shame.
Social media has been awash with incredulity at some of the items auctioned at this week’s Tory party’s Black and White gala, a major fundraiser for the election campaign.
Diners paid up to £15,000 per table for a place at the secretive event attended by David Cameron and senior conservatives. With some of the country’s richest hedge fund managers in attendance lots included the opportunity to go “shoe shopping with Theresa May”. It’s not clear whether the £17,500 bid includes the price of the shoes or whether that will be extra.
Other bids were for a “unique bound collection” of George Osborne’s Budget speeches, signed by the chancellor,
a “roast chicken dinner” at the home of Chief Whip Michael Gove and a JCB digger.
On twitter user @paulsinha summed it up with the following:
“Shoe shopping with Theresa May” sounds less like an auction lot and more like a rejected TV pitch from Alan Partridge.
At the time of writing he hasn’t commented on his tweet but I’m sure we will get one of the following explanations:
My acount was hacked
My daughter was using my phone
This is what happens when you let too many people into our country
We’re guessing at number 2 but whatever the explanation Carswell, as a prolific blogger who embraces digital communications, should know better. At the time of writing it has received dozens of replies, been retweeted nearly 500 times and received 100+ favourites.
It won’t be the last social media gaffe of the election and Carswell will be adding passwords to his phone and PC, that is of course unless he does just want a game of Hello Kitty World.
Nick Clegg seems to have dropped off the popular political agenda according to Google Trends.
The service is a is a fascinating way of finding out what people are interested in over any given period. Based on Google Search, the Trends site shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume. It also allows comparisons between search terms. Entering the names of the five main party leaders produces some interesting results.
Cameron is way out in front which is not too surprising for a sitting PM. Nigel Farage is a good second place suggesting that the media obsession with the UKIP leader is reflected in public interest (chicken or egg?) Miliband is a poor third but the Deputy PM is neck and neck with Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, someone with up until now a profile so low it was almost invisible. Although over the whole of January there have been more searches for Clegg, in recent days the Green leader appears to be overtaking him. That’s a worrying trend for the LibDem leader.
Twitter stole a march on social media rivals when it announced yesterday that ads and promoted tweets will be able to be geo-targeted down to individual postcodes for the first time. Facebook can target towns and cities but not streets or significantly in the run up to the election, individual constituencies.
For political parties fighting at constituency level, where the race to win a seat is likely to be close, targeting by postcode could prove to be a powerful weapon in the digital armoury.
Postcode targeting gives candidates an opportunity to push policy on local issues or raise the profile of a candidate fighting for a seat for the first time.
The ability to target audiences at hyper local level is added to existing options that include interest, gender and keyword targeting.
In an election that will be fought hard with more battleground constituencies than ever before this could give candidates with skilled digital advisors a real advantage.
Posts about elections and politics in general with a particular interest in how social media impacts on the political process.