MPs on Twitter

I’m having a bit of a catch up session on this blog, having neglected it for a couple of months… No good reason for the neglect except lots of work, and getting out of the habit.

Anyway, here’s a short piece I was asked to write a week or so ago for the Independent, after a rather silly survey was published about MPs’ tweeting.


A survey published yesterday revealed that MPs spend 1,000 hours a year tweeting. That’s all MPs added together, working out at a scandalous not even one whole minute per MP per day. The suggestion is that this is far too much. My response would be that it’s far too little.

Twitter is above all about communication. And aren’t MPs always being told that we need to break out of the Westminster bubble, and talk to people more?

MPs love Twitter because it’s the quickest news source around. It’s great for getting information, and for putting information “out there”. No need for press releases: MPs send stuff out through Twitter to their followers, who in turn pass it on. Journalists increasingly use Twitter to pick up on stories.

Tom Watson, Chris Bryant and Louise Mensch have been keeping Twitter enthralled with updates on #hackgate. Liz Kendall tweeted updates on the committee stage of the Health Bill. Ed Balls regularly uses Twitter to push his economic arguments (as well as tweeting his lasagne recipe!)

The best MPs use Twitter to argue and debate with people they might never have met but whose ideas and opinions are interesting and important (and sometimes idiotic and obnoxious, but that’s democracy for you). We should be encouraging more MPs to tweet.

Kerry McCarthy is Labour MP for Bristol East

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