Friday, 19 September 2014

Scottish Referendum and Social Media

As the smoke clears from yesterday's referendum there are a couple of lessons that can be learnt.

Firstly, I want to say that the whole referendum was a good thing for democracy and the democratic process. It has been so disheartening looking at voter turnout to elections over the last few years in the UK - as a democrat I found it hard to accept that the people of this country have so little interest in the future or selecting the best party to lead and form a government. Even if the people of the UK voted BNP or Raving loony party it would be better than just sitting at home complaining.

However last night saw over 80% of Scots voting.


This shows how important the people took this whole debate. Whether they watched the televised debates or read the pamphlets, entered with predetermined ideals or chose at random, they got involved and that is the main thing so well done Scotland!

However this is not the important thing that I am alluding to.

It is not a new thing, it is something I think I spoke about after AV...

The other day SKY news was waxing lyrically about how the #Yes was three times more popular on Twitter than the #no and that pro independence tweeters were dominating the twittersphere. The same was true with the #Yes2AV, which I was part of. Online we thought we had won.

You cannot take online chatter as a clear view of the polls.

Twitter is a bit of a soundbox. Although a good forum for debate it is also a place where the entrenched dig themselves in with likeminded fellows. Libdems stick with Libdems, Tories with Tories, Labour with Labour. Let's face it - it is logical. Although many of us get on with those from other parties we don't agree on a lot and if we did we wouldn't be in the parties we are! There's no point arguing about politics with each other because we don't agree and won't agree - I tried it recently by arguing with Gillingham & Rainham's ex Labour MP (and candidate for 2015) Paul Clark and instantly regretted it as it took several days and neither of us gained ground or agreed on anything. To be honest, it started to stress me out and was an irritating distraction as I tried to concentrate on my work on von Spee's fleet.

Most people won't voice political opinions on Twitter, or even in real life when asked by a politico as they don't want to be drawn out into a debate. I've done enough door knocking to know that most people will either avoid answering, say their busy or just say they will take the leaflet and read (recycle) it. Not many will argue, even less will argue with an activist about policies unless they are die hard politicos or like my grandfather, had pre-set ideas that, despite logical debate, could not be undone.

Twitter users are the same, those that tweet general stuff or people who have causes other than politics won't take any interest in a politico tweeting at them trying to convince them of a subject. Often his is a quick way to get blocked or an unfollow in the same way that on the doorstep you'll get a door slammed in your face.

As we AV supporters learned back in 2011 and the Yes campaign found out again last night, the volume and quantity that Yes supporters say Yes is not an accurate portrayal of how wide your message has spread and been accepted. I feel stupid saying this but think I need to, not just to online campaigners but also to the researchers at SKY news - not everyone is on Twitter and it isn't an authority on political popularity.

I think the final word has to go to Danny Alexander MP who tweeted this earlier....

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