Thanks to changes in the parliamentary rules, tech-forward MPs are now permitted to tweet from within the Commons. Many have been spotted doing so while their colleagues address the house. I do wish they'd stop. Not because they're disrupting the democratic process, but because MPs are the most insipid social networkers in the galaxy. Honourable mention must go to the likes of Louise Mensch and Tom Watson, who know how to be interesting in 140 characters. But most MPs' attempts to engage with voters via Twitter are crushingly dull. A browse through some backbenchers' accounts yields such underwhelming information as the sandwich they're eating on the Leeds to Liverpool train, the "great" meeting they just had with the local chamber of commerce, and links to their latest on-message blog post. Sometimes, to demonstrate a hint of humanity, they might inform their followers which dad-rock LP they're listening to in the car.
Evidently, they're terrified of expressing any opinion that might be wilfully misinterpreted and earn them a dressing-down from the party leader (cf. Diane Abbott), so the occasional spot of light relief comes only when one of them makes a mistake. Yesterday Ed Miliband – perhaps Westminster's most tedious tweeter – wrote that he was "Sad to hear that Bob Holness has died. A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters [sic]."
Presumably the Labour intern responsible for the Miliband (E) Twitter account is 22 years old, and has never heard of Blockbusters. Of course, if Miliband's tweets read less like they'd been put through a blandness filter to remove any wit, personality or charm, then he could have shrugged off his gaffe with a quick follow-up joke. Instead, his awkward silence was deafening. Think before you tweet, elected representatives. But don't think too hard.
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