An amusing article by Claire Trevett on MPs and Twitter:
Justice Minister Judith Collins is the biggest surprise in this regard. While many MPs delegate tweetery to their staff, Collins runs her own with a steel fist. And with what unbridled glee does she deploy that fist. She alternates between Agony Aunt and Iron Lady, dispensing kindly advice to some, but getting others with a swift upper cut.
So an exchange with Clare Curran over Family Court reforms somehow ended up being a critique of Green co-leader Metiria Turei and her jacket, both of which Collins decreed were “vile, wrong and ugly”.
She revelled in Labour’s man ban, telling Trevor Mallard she could see why Labour wanted a man-ban “if you’re anything to go by”. She reserves her best patronising tones for Chris Hipkins: after finding out he was calling her “Cruella” she replied “Chris is a dear boy. Probably stayed up all night thinking of that one.”
MPs on Twitter play to a relatively small audience. It is mainly beltway or enthusiasts of politics, rather than undecided voters who might be swayed by the persuasiveness of an MP’s tweeting skills. It can be useful for making announcements though – one of the more astonishing moments in recent times was last week when Labour MPs turned to Twitter to reject reported rumours that a coup was under way. Grant Robertson, Annette King and Chris Hipkins led the charge, getting their message out but also turning it from a virtual non-story to a story about their vigorous denials on Twitter.
The predominant motivation for those MPs, therefore, is pure fun. When the Speaker calls order on the interjections, the MPs simply turn to Twitter where there is no Speaker to rain on their parade. Should some earnest person try to intervene, they can simply be taken out of the game by being blocked to shut them up. There are no whips on Twitter, no Speakers. An honourable mention also goes to a former MP who may be an actual MP again in the future, Labour’s Kelvin Davis, @NgatiBird. His recent contributions include this on the Pakeha Party: “they want what Maori have. Excellent. They are welcome to our 16 per cent unemployment rate, lower life expectancy, and gout.”
And Claire wants Shane Jones on Twitter:
The MP who most people want to join Twitter is Labour’s Shane Jones, the master of the backhanded compliment. His recent insults include this, about the Green Party’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidate Marama Davidson: “Marama is a younger, somewhat smarter, version of Metiria.” It is a perfectly formed tweet, but in this case was said during an interview with yours truly, who never found an opportunity to use it. …
The only people who do not want Shane Jones to join Twitter are the Labour Party communications staff, who quiver in fear at the very thought.