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Hashtag politics and the general election

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Hashtag politics and the general election

Post by Jill Segger on Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:58 pm

#CameronMustGo - the hashtag trended on Twitter across the weekend, beginning in the aftermath of Mark Reckless' victory in the Rochester and Strood by-election and continues to date (26 November 2014), having collected over 400,000 contributions from politicians, celebrities, journalists and citizens.

You might say this is no more than like-minded people talking to each other and letting off steam. But I believe there are factors which may make it a little more significant than its detractors would like us to believe.

The tweets vary in quality and in style. Some are witty, others sharply to the point, a few simply abusive. But taken in the round, they show how deep and widespread are both resistance to austerity and contempt for David Cameron's false and broken promises on the NHS, on the environment, on inclusion, on care for the least powerful and on transparency in government.

It is significant that there has been little comment from the mainstream media.The Guardian and Huffpost have both given the phenomenon a passing nod. Writers on the right have largely focused on attacking individual high-profile tweeters such as the blogger and campaigner Jack Monroe. There have been reports on various international media outlets but the BBC – and specifically the Corporation's @BBCtrending Twitter account, whose strapline includes the words “Seen a story you think we should cover? Let us know” – have ignored it. Had there been a similar Twitter storm on Ed Miliband's tenure, it is hard to imagine that this would have been the case.

All this will have been noted in Downing Street. The general election is less than six months away and polling reflects the volatility of a new dispensation in which two party hegemony is a thing of the past. The necessity for change has not been greater since the remaking of our country in 1945. There has been no election in my lifetime when we have been so divided, when the vulnerable have been so oppressed and when power has been held on the back of such arrogant disdain for the good of the citizens from whom it holds its power.

We have to move beyond Twitter outrage and the indignant purity of impotence. In 2005, Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian in the aftermath of the Iraq war, urged readers to “hold their noses and vote Labour”. That's one view. Over the next few months, we must consider the sick, the disabled, the unemployed, the old, the marginalised, desperate and derided. We have to move from hashtags of outrage to voting for whatever will rid us of this destructive and cruel administration, whatever use of nose-pegs this may entail.

We are better than our current government. It is time to show them so. It is time to act so as to make #CameronWillGo a reality.


This blog first appeared on Ekklesia and is reproduced with acknowledgement. www.ekklesia.co.uk
(Views expressed by individual contributors do not necessarily reflect an official Ekklesia view.)

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© Jill Segger is an Associate Director of Ekklesia with particular involvement in editorial issues. She is a freelance writer who contributes to the Church Times, Catholic Herald, Tribune, Reform and The Friend, among other publications. Jill is an active Quaker. See: http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/TQig/Jill-Segger You can follow Jill on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/quakerpen
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