Chancellor George Osborne has publicly stated his determination to gain more followers on Twitter than his Labour counterpart Ed Balls, declaring that “we are in competition now” on ITV’s Daybreak this morning.
Osborne, who started using his account (@George_Osborne) yesterday morning, has already racked up over 34,000 followers despite having only sent four tweets.
In contrast, the Shadow Chancellor has sent over 3,000 tweets, and has gained over 77,000 followers.
When challenged by Daybreak presenter Lorraine Kelly as to whether he spent most of yesterday on the microblogging site, Osborne replied: "I confess I didn't spend most of yesterday doing it. I did a couple of tweets and I'm getting used to it. But it's a pretty fast and furious world out there on Twitter.”
Within minutes of sending his first tweet, which included a photograph of the Chancellor apparently adding some final touches to his Budget, he was bombarded with abusive tweets.
Amongst the barrage of vicious personal insults, some Twitter users managed to derive humour from the situation. Comedian David Schneider tweeted: “@George_Osborne to cut tweets to 135 characters by 2015 except for people with +200K followers. We don't want to drive them abroad. #budget.”
Schneider later followed up with: “Osborne: For every one job lost in the public sector, 6 jobs have been created in Poundland. For no money. #budget2013.”
Meanwhile, Ed Balls has yet to issue a response to Osborne’s Twitter challenge, but it seems likely that his number of followers will soon be surpassed by the Chancellor.
However, it remains to be seen how many of those new followers will be there to support Osborne, rather than simply provide him with more abuse.