Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Chishti Vs. Twitter in the House of Commons.

Recently, about a month ago, some fraudulent Cad posed as Rehman Chishti MP for Gillingham & Rainham in a fake Twitter account duping over one hundred journalists, fellow MPs and constituents. The tweets were fairly innocent, discussing what he had for lunch, that his printer had packed up etc...

This is significant for two reasons:

1. It was the first time I had seen him in the local press for a long while.

2. After being contacted by Alan McGuinness, a reporter for the Medway Messenger for a comment on the Twitter account he contacted Twitter and had it removed and then brought it up at the House of Commons.

In fact Mr Chishti is quoted as saying (in the Medway Messenger article MP calls for debate after Twitter Fraud, 21-11-2011)

Following a call from a journalist, I discovered that a fake Twitter account had been set up by somebody purporting to be me.
It can happen to anyone across the country and can cause unnecessary nuisance. I ask for an urgent debate on the responsibilities of social media sites.

The response from the Leader of the House, George Young was; I'll raise it with the department for culture, media and sports ministers.

I agree that yes, this can be annoying but in the case of Mr Chishti's "hacker" it has done nothing but actually give him some column space. The hacker wrote nothing libelous or scandalous indeed it was just mundane information like the printer breaking down or eating a sandwich out in the park, if anything this made the whole thing that much more believable!

I've said before that I'd almost forgotten who my MP was and low in the last month he has appeared in two stories locally, both seemingly self serving, this one and the one defending boundary reforms which could be argued was saving his majority for the next election.
 He doesn't sit well in the media that in the same paper (Medway Messenger 21-11-11) there is this article on Rehman Chishti wittering on about a fraudulent Twitter account that did no real harm and in this case is only applicable to him (on page 11) and on Page 7 is a picture of Tracey Crouch doing good in the community of Chatham and Aylesford raising money for Children in need with Freddy the fox. Where was Rehman on Children in need?
Is this just the media being selective of its stories? I'm not really in a position to say (with any proof) either way but in my honest opinion no they aren't. Rehman Chishti does seem to be MIA in Medway and again in Friday's paper (as mentioned here) he was yet again available for comment. A good question would be; would Mr Chishti have brought this up in Parliament if it hadn't happened to him? Could the accusation that he is only representing himself be levelled?

I agree that fake Twitter accounts are a nuisance to people, not only celebrities but also regular people who are victims of hate campaigns by vindictive members of their families or ex friends and maybe there is something that Social Networks could do.
Whether it is for Parliament to debate or not is another question, after all surely the House has greater issues to deal with like the deficit, NHS reform, Human rights, the boundary review, abortion... Where can Rehman Chishti's Twitter clone fit in?


  1. You have a point. However, we don't all have to be in the limelight to be doing good. I am glad he is my MP. He supports the Government. I cannot say the same for Tracy Crouch or Mark Reckless, and I hope the boundaries in Medway do not change so that he is no longer my MP.

  2. True, as I said in my other post, he may be beavering away in Westminster and we wouldn't know - in which case he does need to publicise it!
    I've got a lot of respect for Tracey Crouch, she does support the Government (ok not on Europe) and still manages to be a good constiteuncy MP.
    If he is a good constiteuncy MP, and shows gives the voters faith in why they voted for him then I'm sure the boundary changes will not make a difference. People should vote for who represents them the best, not for a government.

  3. As I promised on Twitter last night, I finally gathered my thoughts into a coherent comment. Unfortunately, said comment reached about 800 words, so I posted it on Birmingham and Beyond instead.

    The full comment is here, but as a sample/summary of my opinion:

    It is one’s role in Parliament to represent one’s constituents’ views – which means one needs to be speaking and voting regularly. Has Rehman Chishti MP made the grade in the House of Commons?

    In a word, yes. According to TheyWorkForYou.com, Mr Chishti has spoken in 93 debates and received answers to 69 written questions in the past year. In this Parliament, he has voted in 89% of divisions.

    However, although it is important for MPs to keep in regular contact with their constituents, they have not been elected to look pretty at school fetes. They have been elected to represent their constituents in Parliament, raising local issues in debates (such as the Thames Estuary proposal at Prime Minister’s Question Time) and voting on important Bills. In this regard, and in spite of his dual roles as both a councillor and a Member of Parliament, Mr Chishti has been tireless.

    There may be an element of careerism and self-serving to Mr Chishti – but then that is the same for almost every politicain at every level.