UK politics and social media

Social media is now becoming a much bigger deal for UK politicians and parties. The latest to hit the headlines is Birmingham MP Sion Simon who has recorded a rather funny (in my humble opinion) spoof YouTube video of Dave ‘just like you’ Cameron’s Webcameron.

To be honest when I first watched David Cameron’s first video I thought it was a spoof by him. I remembered Tom Watson’s ‘yoof’ page which he used to draw attention to him as the first blogging MP. The ‘yoof’ page was a spoof and Tom showing he had a sense of humour.

Unfortunately Dave’s video was for real! That said, he still deserves praise for trying it. The point about social media and politics is that it is early days and we have to learn how best to do it. Cameron might not be getting it 100% right at the moment, but he’s heading in the right direction and overall the Tory’s are doing the job ten times better than any of the other parties.

That brings us to Sion Simon’s YouTube spoof, which has been condemned by “politicians of all parties”. Having read several of the quotes I think it might be more accurate to say – boring old farts of all parties.

The best was Jack Straw, the leader of the Commons, who said he had not seen the video, but added: “My view is that we have to ensure that political discourse is at a reasonably high level, and avoid personal attacks.”

What more evidence do you need that some politicians are totally out of touch? Sion Simon’s video isn’t a personal attack and it’s no higher or lower level than lots of other political discourse. In fact it’s the type of political discourse that most real people are likely to have. And Jack couldn’t even be bothered to watch it, before pontificating on issues he knows nothing about.

It’s also interesting to note that not many people watched the video until the Tories complained about it. It rather reminds me of my bonfire campaign when I was a councillor. I created a very simple animated GIF showing Tory executive board member Councillor John Procter as the ‘guy’ on a bonfire. John, who for a councillor isn’t that old, appears to have had a sense of humour bypass. He threatened to report me to the Standards Board. Brilliant, just what I’d planned. Do you think the Yorkshire Evening Post would have given my website a big splash if John hadn’t complained? Of course it wouldn’t, John made the story for me. Just like I thought he would. The response from the local community was overwhelmingly supportive – one complaint and about thirty or so supportive messages.

Finally, if you want to see an example of a really bad broadcast media interview then take a look at Sion Simon on Sky News. Sion – you really, really need some media training.

XP: Stuart’s Soapbox

UPDATE: Tom Watson has apologised and Sion has removed the video (or Tom has done it for him), but thanks to the BBC you can still see it here.

 


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://theukprforum.wordpress.com Sam Oakley

    Stuart,
    Whilst I agree that cameron has a way to go before getting the vlogging right, Simon did make some pretty offensive comments – the whole come on down sleep with my wife thing is worthy of complaint. I agree with you though, it was a non story until some back bench tory played into his hands. (of note is that cameron never complained publicly, he asked Simon personally to take down the video or cut the reference to his wife and kids.)