2010 UK Elections, TV and Twitter: how it doesn’t always fit together

“Who wants to be a Prime Minister?”

I was almost going to call this post “Who wants to be a Prime Minister” but refrained at the last minute (lucky you!). A colleague today told me that during the TV debates, the three British candidates in the run-up to 6 May 2010 were being evaluated by the audience in the studio with remote voting systems, and that the results were being displayed on TV screens.

Immediately, images of TV shows like “Who wants to be a millionaire” formed in my mind and I had a quirky vision of the three candidates, in front of their pulpit, answering questions in order to win the prize of the day – to become UK’s next PM!

So I decided to check out for myself and have a look at the first two TV debates<, the first one on domestic affairs, the second one of international matters. I recall having to watch all the French presidential TV debates during my studies in political sciences and I had been quite amazed at that time to learn that the first debate took place in 1974 – at a time where owning a TV was not so common.

The first two debates left me completely cold, and I was very disappointed. It all sounded like they were rehearsing a play, nothing seemed natural, and each one of them knew his part so well that I thought there must be a tele-prompt hidden somewhere out of site.

On using Twitter and Facebook during elections

After having done my share of watching, I decided to check out how to get information on the third and last debate online. I stumbled upon the BBC special site on the UK elections and saw they were tweeting the debate live – great! I had exactly what I was looking for: the facts, the texts without the grins and the faces.

Twitter and Facebook were literally buzzing with comments and opinions about the last debate and the BBC intelligently shared some of this buzz with their viewers (and which I could catch up with thanks to their live coverage of the event on their website).

But the funniest situation so far on social media with regard to the UK elections is that of Kerry McCarthy’s alleged breach of electoral rules after tweeting about postal votes (read BBC article). McCarthy was appointed last year by Labour to improve their use of social media, and it now turns out she communicated about non final vote counts on the official Labour Twitter account. What a “thoughtless” thing to do as she says herself!

It’s great to be able to follow the national election campaign of another country thanks to the Internet. But there are those who, like the BBC, truly master the art and science of communication, and those (in particular in politics) who still have a long way to go before they can even compare…

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