Many of my Twitter followers have today seen my passionate side as I exchanged tweets with Michael Fabricant over his use of the social networking site. He’s a little unfortunate in that he’s the only one of Lichfield’s four candidates to be active on Twitter. Labour candidate Steve Hyden is but hasn’t tweeted since February. That gives Mike a boost when it comes to engagement with constituents, which is great, but I have a bee in my bonnett.
Like many voters, I think, I’m fed up of the playground politics that we often see. By that I mean politicians just attacking each other. Providing nothing meaningful in terms of solutions to the problems faced by the country or individuals, or focusing on policy. I believe the primary reason why Nick Clegg performed so well in the first leader’s debate is because he focused far more on re-iterating Liberal policy while Cameron and Brown attacked each other.
The polls were clear; as voters we are tired of playground politics. We don’t want you to be saying “don’t vote for the opposition, they’ll do A, B and C” – we want to hear “vote for us because we’ll do X, Y and Z.” In fact, I kind of don’t mind if candidates attack each other so long as they attack policy and then follow it up by telling us what their own policy is on the same issue.
It’s not hard, we just want to know what candidates stand for and what we can expect from them if they become our MP.
So with those basic principles in mind I decided to do a (very unscientific) sentiment analysis of Fabricant’s tweets since he ceased being an MP and became a candidate.
Of 47 tweets since 12th April I found that while 13 (28%) were positive a slightly higher number, 15 (32%) were negative. The rest (19 – 40%) were neutral.
I’ve copied them all into a spreadsheet which you can all see and scrutinise to your hearts content, and I encourage you to do so.
There was no rigid rule set about what is and isn’t positive or negative and in some cases I’ve even asked for clarification from you as to whether I got it right as well as explaining in some cases why I chose the sentiment I did. I’d appreciate your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
What it showed me personally was that, overall, Mike’s tweets ain’t that bad. Some of the negative tweets could have easily become positives if followed up with “…but Conservatives would do X” to show the difference in the main parties and hence the choice we have.
I should also point out that as an MP, Fabricant had some very good moments. Especially (and dear to my heart) the tweeting he did during the passing of the Digital Economy Bill.
So, what do you think?
Update: Michael said to me on Twitter, “Oh get real! Detailed policy in 140 chars? Go to www.conservatives.com for detailed policy.” so it makes sense I give an example of what I would like (not detailed policy!) This tweet attacking Nick Clegg could have been followed up with something like, “Conservative gov’t would introduce Privilege Act to stop that happening. See manifesto p66 http://bit.ly/aR9PfA [pdf]” – that’s 117 characters that says “vote for me and I’ll do something about such abuses.”