Labour Party General Secretary Andrew Kirton recently sent out a message to Labour Candidates which of itself was a lesson on all things social media. The text was to warn them to review their social media and delete all the stuff that might be embarassing. But things went astray when it was texted to reporters …
Labour MPs, election candidates, and staff are under orders to clean up their social media profiles.
The Party’s general secretary Andrew Kirton issued the directive in a text he also accidentally sent to reporters today.
Mr Kirton’s directed them to check their social media feeds to remove any potentially embarrassing material – specifically old posts from before they were candidates.
He’s telling candidates their social media accounts should present them as being professional and in touch, and has asked they delete images showing them drinking or making inappropriate gestures.
It asks Labour candidates to check for any old social media posts which could “embarrass you or the Party” – even if they were taken before the person joined Labour.
Warning that Labour’s opponents were searching through candidates’ pages, Kirton said: “Your social media accounts should present you as a professional and in touch person.
“Images of you drinking, making inappropriate gestures etc etc should be deleted.”
It also says any criticisms of Labour policy, current or former leaders “will come back to haunt you and us”.
And here is the text:
Here's the text in question pic.twitter.com/c6kVoZbI7u
— Felix Marwick (@felixmarwick) March 3, 2017
I am sure everyone had a laugh and that Andrew is feeling just a little bit embarrassed right now. At least his text had nothing which was actually sensitive. And the incident contains a very important lesson, if there is something that you want to share that is important and you do not want the media to report it, then do not text/email/message/use a computer or cellphone to spread it around.
Apart from the lesson concerning the inherent weakness of modern social media and how it should be avoided for sensitive messages there is one aspect that I want to comment on and that is the suggestion that having been historically critical of the party or doing something slightly inappropriate like drinking should be considered to be a negative.
I think this is a mistake. Call me a heretic but I think that we should have proud passionate outspoken candidates, and I don’t believe that sanitising backgrounds is a good thing to do. Bob Harvey is one of the politicians who I admire the most and he has always outspoken. He may have caused headaches for his personal advisors but people always knew exactly, precisely where he stood on issues and what he thought.
I appreciate this is the modern way, with parties through message discipline seeking to advance their framing of issues through the media who are intent on spotting and highlighting divisions and differences. But this ignores the importance of local politics, that communities support candidates who know the local issues and are prepared to advocate for them. Yes there is a national aspect to all politics but there is also a local aspect which sanitised direction setting can damage.
Of course the opposition is searching through candidates’ social media pages. Dirty politics is what they do.
And I would be interested to see how the dictum would handle this photo …