Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Sex, fear and social media

21/03/2016, 04:45:34 PM

by Jonathan Todd

“I’m afraid I’m pretty much a flaming ball of hurt and anger at the moment.”

“Maybe you should stop reading tweets.”

That exchange comes from Purity, Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel. It a dirge, according to some reviews. But Uncut found it a fast paced engagement with eternal themes of longing and friendship in contemporary contexts of coffee shops and social media.

The “experts” are wrong about Purity, as they have been about Donald Trump, who was never meant to get this far.

Many Trump supporters are also flaming balls of hurt and anger. Made more so by time spent on Twitter. As Trump understands and exacerbates.

“This is a pattern,” observed Marco Rubio, before he crashed out of the Republican race, “this is the game he plays. He says something that’s edgy and outrageous, and then the media flocks and covers that and then no one else can get any coverage of anything else.”

There is finite media oxygen and Trump’s aggressive, social media driven campaign has starved Republican opponents of it. Nonetheless, if Trump fails to win a majority, he will be at the mercy of party procedure at the Republican convention. Which would be, in the vernacular of Twitter, a real #getspopcorn moment.

Uncut is unpersuaded, however, that there is enough popcorn in the world to stop Trump getting over the line as the Republican candidate. The likes of Eisenhower and Lincoln previously emerged as Republican candidates after contested conventions. But the power of backroom deals must be more limited in less deferential, more connected times.

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Bored of the reshuffle? You should be. It’s already occupied more news cycles than any in history

05/01/2016, 03:19:56 PM

by Atul Hatwal

It’s the never-ending reshuffle. This farrago started yesterday morning and is still going over a day later. Current estimates are that it will run past tomorrow and end as a four day marathon by the time the junior posts are announced.

Journalists have been moaning about the length of time its taken and they’re right.

More than they know.

In the old days, Before Twitter (BT), the news cycle used to last 24 hours. Now its shorter, much shorter. According to this academic study of the 2012 US Presidential election, by Professor Daniel Kreiss, it’s gone down from 24 hours to 2 hours.

This means a single day, After Twitter (AT), is now equivalent to 12 days of BT news cycles.

If the Corbyn reshuffle goes on for four days that will be 48 news days in old money – almost 10 working weeks worth of stories.

No wonder people are moaning.

Obviously the elapsed time will remain 4 days, but the frustration and ennui of journalists (and many of their readers) is a vivid illustration of just how news has changed.

And as for Jeremy Corbyn’s team, allowing a negative Labour story like this to dominate double digits of news cycles, it is wholly unprecedented.

Another first to chalk up for the Labour leader.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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Sorry, that Labour leadership poll is nonsense. Jeremy Corbyn is going to finish fourth

22/07/2015, 05:24:43 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Remember the general election, when most reports on voting intention turned out to be total tosh?

Well, here we go again.

The general election hopelessly wrong-footed most commentators for two reasons: dodgy polls and shouty lefty Twittervists.

The polls created an illusion that Ed Miliband and Labour were a nose in front. Labour’s voluble activist base on Twitter then leapt on every iffy poll and each tweet describing yet another great session on the #Labourdoorstep to amplify and broadcast the narrative that Ed Miliband was about to become prime minister.

Understandably, most journalists looked on and followed the crowd. The pollsters and the Twittervists seemed to be saying the same thing.

A self-reinforcing spiral of delusion took hold that was only broken when the public’s actual votes shattered the Westminster’s conventional wisdom on the evening of May 7th.

Now, it’s happening again in the Labour leadership race.

YouGov have provided the poll and the Twittervists have been hard at work since news of it broke last night (though in truth, this process was already under way, with the equally misleading CLP nominations being used as the metric of choice by Corbyn’s online barmy army).

The problem, as at the general election, is that the polling is misleading.

In the case of the Labour leadership race, the capability of any polling company to accurately sample members is highly questionable.

For online polling, the problem is particularly acute.

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Oi journalists! Stop complaining about MPs tweeting campaign pics. It’s called democracy and it’s great

20/01/2015, 05:11:28 PM

by Ian McKenzie

There is currently a deep and widening fracture between the British people and their political parties, apparently. The chasm is so big that the political party as a concept is in terminal decline. The main two parties are in particular danger because their joint share of the national vote has fallen dramatically in the last 6 decades: it’s all over now, baby blue and baby red.

These assertions have become truths all but universally acknowledged; it’s all a bit boring really.

People do not join parties in large numbers any more. The electorate has slammed its doors on the main parties after saying “you are all the same”. People feel alienated and disenfranchised, believing that politicians are only in it for themselves and only come round at election times when they want votes and are nowhere to be seen during the rest of the electoral cycle. Yada yada yada.

I know all this because I’ve read it, and endlessly repeated variations of it, in newspapers and on Twitter.

It’s pervasive: explicit in opinion columns and covert in the news. The articles are written by political journalists and others and then tweeted and re-tweeted by them and their colleagues. These reports of widespread disconnection from the political process usually include expressions of regret; the demise of the parties is often celebrated. The theme is usually the same “you politicians had it coming, you’ve taken the electorate for granted for decades, the system’s broken and it’s your fault, you feckless, lazy reprobates.”

But the last couple of years have seen a little twist: Twitter has gone mainstream and not just in Westminster either. Hundreds of MPs and thousands of activists, in most constituencies, have continued doing what they have been doing for decades, knocking on doors and staying in touch with electors, only now they are doing it on Twitter.

In fact, Twitter has helped motivate and mobilise activism. Any Labour organiser will tell you there’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure and leading by manifest example to get people off their sofas and onto doorsteps. These days, hundreds of MPs, even those who once swore they would never stoop so low, and their campaign teams post thousands of tweets from, say, Acacia Avenue. We know it’s Acacia Avenue because the team is usually snapped in front of the road sign.

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Sorry Emily, you had to go

28/11/2014, 12:05:00 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Emily Thornberry is a week late with her spin.

In an interview with the Islington Tribune, her “truck-driving, builder brother,” Ben, refutes accusations that his sister is a snob after infamously tweeting a photograph of a house displaying England flags with a white van in the drive, blaming her demise on “cut-throat and dirty politics”.

Really, when in a hole, stop digging.

Now she has brought her brother into the equation, Ms Thornberry has given license to any national newspaper to crawl around and see if, indeed, Ben Thornberry, is a tradesman (implied but not actually stated in the piece). “Builder” can cover anything from semi-skilled scaffolder, through to millionaire property developer. Expect to find out more in the Mail on Sunday or The Sun.

But none if this alters the fact most people aren’t ex-barristers living in three million pound houses married to high court judges with honorary titles. Moreover, unlike Lady Nugee, most people’s dads don’t go on to become the assistant secretary-general of the United Nations.  She should have known better than to sneer at the voters for her lofty perch.

So, Ed Miliband was entirely right to be furious with her for that stupid tweet. It allowed the government to wriggle off the hook on the day it lost a safe seat in a by-election. It should have been open season on David Cameron. Instead, Labour spent three days defending its credentials as the party of hard-working people.

Emily Thornberry made an unforced error and in this age of political professionalism it was right she got the sack for making it.

The lesson for other Labour MPs is that they should try knocking on doors rather than photographing them.

And if you’re going to display your proletarian credentials, better make sure they’re fireproof.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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Farage might have won the live debate but Clegg triumphed in the news packages. And more people watch the news

03/04/2014, 10:08:03 AM

by Atul Hatwal

A thumping victory for Farage. That was the consensus following last night’s big debate. The pundits said it, the polls said it; there was little doubt.

But for people like me, who didn’t see the debate, and whose only sight of the combatants was on the evening news, the result was very different.

In the contest of the clips, Clegg was the winner.

This doesn’t mean that the verdict of those who saw the live debate was wrong. Just that, as so often is the case, the highlights reel told a different story.

The BBC News at Ten package, which would have had the most viewers, focused on four passages in the debate: the clash over Putin, immigration, past Lib Dem promises of a referendum and the closing statements.

Nick Robinson’s report can be seen here.

While Farage had the upper hand in the latter two exchanges, the first two were the most resonant.

On Putin, the key moment was when David Dimbleby intervened to contradict Nigel Farage’s assertion that he had never said he “admired Putin.”

Although most viewers are likely to have minimal interest in Nigel Farage’s position on Vladimir Putin, it’s always extremely powerful when the neutral debate moderator intervenes against one of the participants.

Quite apart from the topic under discussion, it sends a clear message to the viewing public that this politician isn’t being straight with the audience.

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Letter from Wales: Police commissioners to discuss “twitter beats” for cops to tackle trolls

04/11/2013, 07:00:32 AM

by Julian Ruck

If one was enjoying a pint in a pub or a casual stroll in a park and all of a sudden a motley bunch of cruel antagonists were to pounce with verbal abuse and barrages of weakling insult and threat, the police would jump pretty sharpish.

Not so it seems, at least where the much lowered tone and corruption of Berners-Lee intent is concerned. These pornographers of free speech can provoke suicides, breakdowns, destruction of reputations at will and all with a uniquely derisive impunity.

Democracy in action? It is time is it not, for a fresh look at these new 21st Century multi-headed monsters?

In recent times the media has been beside itself with the rampant pillaging of civilised behaviour by those who seek to make sexism, raw intimidation and vicious personal attack, veritable art forms.

All is not lost however. Readers will remember that only a few weeks ago I interviewed Dyfed Powys Police Crime Commissioner, Christopher Salmon. Following my interview, his office advise me that the Commissioner is going to discuss a new initiative with other PCC’s in an attempt to consider the potential for an online police presence tasked with patrolling internet trolling activity. Could these “twitter-beats” be the 21st century panda car equivalent of days gone by? One can only hope (or maybe not, to those of us who are old enough to remember them!), but it is at least a start.

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How twitter and Leveson have destroyed the government’s media strategy

01/06/2012, 07:00:45 AM

by Atul Hatwal

So he’s still got a job. Jeremy Hunt hangs on, defying political gravity. His performance yesterday at Leveson was woeful. Between the further revelations of his simpering texts to James Murdoch and near tearful demeanour, it was by any standards, a dreadful day for the Tory.

But despite all of this, thanks to some catastrophic media management choices made at the top of the government, Jeremy Hunt is still standing.

It’s almost possible to see the meeting: Craig Oliver, Gabby Bertin, George Osborne, all sat round the table at their morning huddle. Yes, it is going to be tough. Yes the evidence is damning. But the public don’t get the detail of Leveson. They just think all politicians are in hock to Murdoch and besides, as long as Hunt stays in post, he remains the story.

Which means David Cameron is not.

This was the rationale behind the PM’s decision to continue backing his critically compromised secretary of state for culture, media and sport: a whole-hearted vote of confidence in his personal, human shield.

In one sense the government media panjandrums are right. David Cameron is nowhere to be found in today’s headlines. It’s all Hunt. But everything has a price to pay, and in this case it is the collective confidence of the lobby journalists.

Although individual newspapers are no longer as influential as in the past – it’s unlikely that the Sun will ever again be the one wot won it– the club of parliamentary journalists still wields massive power when they form a common view.

On these occasions, this shared perspective becomes the lens through which all news, print, broadcast and online,  is projected.

For the government, after just two years in office, such a view has formed. The leitmotif in the lobby narrative on the government’s media strategy is now incompetence.

It colours all reporting and increasingly undermines the government’s ability to run the news cycle. Positive stories are treated with suspicion, negative stories with credibility. For Labour, it took over a decade to reach this nadir.

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Thursday News Review

04/08/2011, 06:53:23 AM

The most transparent Government ever

A series of changes to ease the rules for freedom of information requests are to be examined as part of a public consultation designed to open up Whitehall. Fees could be changed and a time limit, which means that departments can refuse requests if they take more than 18 hours to process, could be relaxed under government proposals in a consultation document. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, will launch the document as he pledges to deliver “the most ambitious open data agenda of any government in the world”. – the Guardian

Thousands of pieces of information about public services, from warnings of delays on the railways to details of jobs landed by new graduates, will be thrown open to scrutiny under plans for a “transparency revolution” announced today by the Government. Plans have also been announced to publish data from schools, the National Health Service and the courts. Ministers hope that software developers and individuals will create phone ‘apps’ to make the information accessible and relevant to the public. But Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, last night declared he wanted to go much further and bring vast new swathes of previously confidential information into the open. – the Independent

Parliament to consider capital punishment

MPs face being forced into a landmark vote on restoring the death penalty. Capital punishment is expected to be the first subject debated by Parliament under an e-petitions scheme. The initiative allows the public to help set the government agenda and means anyone can set up an internet petition on any subject. If it attracts more than 100,000 signatures, MPs must consider debating it in the Commons. The scheme is officially launched today, but it has already backfired on the Coalition because Right-wing internet bloggers have been collecting signatures for the last few days. The restoration of hanging for the murderers of children and policemen is by far the most popular serious issue. Commons leader Sir George Young – writing in today’s Daily Mail – says Westminster cannot ignore this popular groundswell. The intervention of Sir George, who is overseeing the e-petition scheme, paves the way for the first Commons vote on capital punishment since 1998. The last hangings in Britain were in 1964. – Daily Mail

MPs must not shy away from debating the restoration of capital punishment if a groundswell of voters backs a petition demanding it, the Commons leader has said. Sir George Young warned that it would damage democracy to ignore strong opinions among members of the public “or pretend that their views do not exist”. He spoke out ahead of the publication on Thursday of the first submissions to a new e-petitions scheme which could see the most popular appeals discussed in parliament. Among the most prominent is one calling for legislation allowing child killers and those who murder police officers to face execution. It has been presented by Paul Staines, who writes the libertarian Guido Fawkes blog, and has already been backed by several MPs. If it is signed by the required 100,000 supporters or more, then the cross-party backbench business committee will decide whether it will be debated. Tory MP Priti Patel said such a debate was long overdue and that she favoured restoring capital punishment “for the most serious and significant crimes” – a position echoed by party colleague Andrew Turner. – the Guardian

MPs warn against defence cuts

Those in Westminster are fond of describing this or that report from a select committee as “damning” in its criticism of government policy. On this occasion, it’s deserved because the defence committee has essentially driven a coach and horses through the coalition’s defence of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Maligned since its birth as driven more by cuts than capabilities, the Government has invested a huge amount of political capital in sticking firm to the controversial decisions made in last autumn’s review. The cuts will not affect our ability to defend ourselves and others, ministers claimed. Not so, says the committee. It claims that post-2015 the Armed Forces will not be able to do all that is required of them, and there is mounting concern that they are already over-stretched. The committee say uncertainty as to funding post-2015 combined with commitment to the Libyan campaign means a promised real-terms increase in the MoD’s budget is “government aspiration, not government policy”. Even the PM gets it in the neck. His assurance of “full spectrum” defence capability is dismissed. – Sky News

Who has the biggest twitter ‘klout’?

Labour MP Tom Watson, who used Twitter prolifically to raise questions over allegations of phone hacking at News International, scored highest for influence out of the members who use the social networking site. Watson scored a high 78 for Klout in a measure of online influence ranging from 1 to 100. The size of the following is just one small factor in the equation. Twitter users are also marked according to a range of variables including how well they engage with their followers, how influential their own followers are and how far their messages reach. Second to Watson was Conservative MP Louise Mensch, who also used Twitter to discuss the culture select committee hearing that took evidence from Rupert Murdoch and his son James. She scored 76, putting her ahead of Foreign Secretary William Hague (67), Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (60) and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (59). But the scores, calculated by Klout, do not reflect political power. While US President Barack Obama has a Klout score of 89, teen singer Justin Bieber scored a perfect 100. – Daily Telegraph

Labour’s financial turmoil

They were the rich businessmen who secretly backed Labour to the tune of millions of pounds. But now seven of the 12 are demanding their multi-million-pound loans back – meaning that Ed Miliband faces a major financial crisis. The donors are led by Chai Patel, the founder of the Priory Clinic, where drug and drink-addled celebrities such as the late Amy Winehouse received treatment.  This pulling of the financial rug from the Party couldn’t come at a worse time. It means that Miliband will be forced (yet again) to depend on the trade unions whose votes so controversially gave him the Labour leadership in the first place.  Indeed, figures published last month by the Electoral Commission graphically illustrate how much Labour — and ‘Red Ed’ (a nickname he so hates) — is in hock to unions who provide 85 per cent of the Party’s funds. – Daily Mail

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Stop shouting at me – I’m on your side

16/07/2011, 02:00:18 PM

by Emma Burnell

I regularly read the blogs of people I disagree with. I think it’s vital to do so not only to challenge your own perceptions, but also to work out how best to frame your arguments. I also regularly read blogs of people I agree with. Sometimes these are the same people. Politics can be a bit like that. Some days the person I’ve had a blazing Twitter row with about the necessity of trident, the very next day I’m nodding in agreement with about the campaigning future of the Labour Party. Modern communications are both fun and confusing that way.

Like real life, people have different moods online. Some days I’m feisty and argumentative, others I’m contemplative and receptive. Sometimes I just want to have a laugh. Because I’m political that laugh will often be at the expense of the Tories or their allies.

There has grown up on all sides of the Labour party a filtered response to all other parts of the party. I know because I get both sides of it. Those on the right of the Party get called Blairites and those on the left Trots. Then they all go about their business with not a single idea improved through debate, a mind changed or a voter won over.  This leaves me in despair when people I know to be interesting and highly intelligent are losing the opportunity to actually try to change a mind. (more…)

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