When I had my stroke-ish-thing I came off social media and stayed away from politics in general. One day a friend phoned me and was going on about Kezia resigning, I had no idea what he was talking about. I wasn’t living in the twittersphere. You see we think as politicians (or former politicians) that Social Media is this fantastic platform for spreading the word and your opinion, and yes it can work. However, quite often the very polished photo of a politician smiling away at some event or other means nothing to Sandra, Joe or Bill when they go to the polling station. Quite often your big amazing point is only liked and retweeted by people who agree with you anyway, I’m doubtful if it changes the mind of the opposition.
My job title, when I’m not ill, is “communications manager” and yes I love it and it’s important to let people know What James is doing but what James Dornan does best is talk to his constituents when he passes them in the street. Asking old school pals how their wife and weans are. Talking to his old pal about the football. Speaking to community activists and not using it as a pat on the back photo op. What constituents don’t want are politicians who are never off twitter using words they have to a) Google or b) give a flying feck about. They just want to know you’re fighting for them and that they can relate to you.
Now I know I’m a fan of the social media and very often I’m slagged for being so open. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s hindered my career progression in some ways, but here’s a story. In January I did a “diet diary”, it was literally me just moaning daily about my struggle with chocolate. I got more case work out of that than anything else. Women mailing me to say “hen I feel you, and while I’m on could you help me with my wee problem”. Why did this happen? Because it was relatable.
Imagine if our politicians tweeted these type of things instead of the daily “smile in a group photo”
1) female politician tweets “late for committee cause the wean had me up all night with sore teeth and a sore ear”. Mothers up and down the land would be saying “on yerself doll for still getting to your work”
2) a male politician tweets “sorry I didn’t make it to the 17th gala day of the year but my wife was fuming that she’d been left with the weans all week herself so she took off to the spa”. Every man in the country with kids would be like “been there ma san”
3) young politicians “bit hungover after an amazing night out this weekend but I’ll be back on form at work Monday.” Showing young people you can actually have a life and still take an interest in the world around you.
4) single politician tweeting “do you think it would be ok for me to get on the Match.com cause tinders rotten”. Every singleton in he country would be howling and high fiving you.
We are always talking about getting a variety of people into politics but in all honesty the political environment seems pretty hostile to the average joe out there. People would say to me “you’re no one of them hen you’re one of us” but the fact is all politicians are humans, and brave to stand up for what they believe in. I just wish now and again they would show that to the public.
When the “selfie queen” article was printed about me in the Sun I was livid at the approach; but what I failed to notice was the hundreds and I mean hundreds of young girls who said “canny believe a girl like you can be in politics”. It had its own impact.
I once watched Nicola Sturgeon notice a wee family on the door step of their house in one of the most impoverished estates in Wishaw. She bolted up and had a wee play with kids and a blether, I know for a fact that word of this action spread around Wishy like wild fire and probably achieved more than any of my pro snp election tweets.
Yes social media has its place. Yes it’s important for politicians to highlight good causes. Yes it’s important and great to raise awareness; but I’m telling you people would LOVE to see the real life of politicians. The side that wished they were good at diets but the Parliament grub is too good. The side that loves people but cries at the inequality around us. People love to relate.
When I was at work one day I was walking behind a female politician who I admired, revered, and wished I could be like. A woman who is smart, sharp and fearsome. Guess what? She had a ladder in her tights and so I loved her even more.