#WeBackEd trended well at the start of November as tens of thousands tweeted their support for the beleaguered Labour leader. It has since developed into an excellent way to promote Labour’s policies (especially useful since the majority of the media skirt over these in favour of bacon sandwiches and the like).
Now #CameronMustGo is being used as a vehicle for Twitter users to vent their anger about the debilitating and cruel policies of Cameron and his government.
The first tweets went out on Saturday 21 and by Monday 24 had reached 250,000. By the end of the week, that figure was up to 645,000 on UK trends.
This has clearly upset the plans of the right wing media, which are used to driving the political agenda of the day, dictating what we read, view and talk about.
Not much coverage
One indication was the relative lack of press coverage accorded to the story in the first few days. (Just imagine the feeding frenzy if such negativity was being aimed at Ed and Labour.)
@BBCtrending, self-described as the “BBC team reporting on stories trending around the world”, managed to ignore #CameronMustGo until Wednesday 26, when it had been trending for five straight days.
That same morning, The Daily Telegraph decided to try and take back control. It asked the question: “How worried should David Cameron be about Twitter bullies?” And it co-opted one Radhika Sanghani to “shine a light on the campaign’s sinister side” (our emphasis).
Sanghani, although conceding how rare it was for a topic to trend on Twitter for five days running, was somewhat peeved that almost 3,000 tweets an hour were featuring #CameronMustGo. “It is stubbornly sticking around and just won’t go away,” she griped.
Sanghani really, really wanted to know whether the hashtag was an “honest representation” of the UK electorate’s voting intentions or “the work of angry left-wing activists who want to take down the PM”.
So she conducted a “30-minute search” in which she could find just one post “from a typical British voter” (a mother and a writer, we were told). Somehow, she was also able to glean that most of the hundreds and thousands of tweets were “from people who know each other” (although she did not explain the feasibility of this).
Furthermore, the tweets were “pretty standard left-wing complaints” – oh, you know, tedious stuff like “the impact of cuts on the poorest and the NHS; the growing reliance on food banks, and cost of living increases”.
She was concerned. “They’re obviously entitled to do this, but the problem is that all other voices are drowned out.”
Now there’s an irony!
Twitter not part of the plan
Cameron and his enablers in the media must be rattled by the competition coming from Twitter. Despite throwing everything (including the kitchen sink and bath) into their campaign of demonising Ed and Labour, they have not been able to push up the Conservatives’ own polling figures or deliver a knockout blow to the opposition. (And, of course Nigel Farage is still sticking in Cameron’s craw.)
They’ve long since upped the ante; the spin is being spun out of control. Dominate the discourse, manipulate the information, introduce distractions and destroy hope to suppress the liberal vote. And, to some extent this has been working. There are many who believe that all politicians are the same and who won’t vote for “any of the above”, if at all.
Having a positive effect
What Twitter does is give a megaphone to the very forces, activities and views that the right wing media ignores or belittles. It provides platforms such as #WeBackEd and #CameronMustGo as an antidote to the mainstream media’s fudged statistics, biased opinions, lies and witch-hunts against the poor and the vulnerable.
Running alongside the mainstream headlines of Ed’s supposed problems, his policies – now all over social media – are beginning to get through. In the last few days, YouGov, polling for The Times, asked which national party best represents working people. 46% of respondents said Labour, 24% said UKIP and 18% said the Conservatives.