The State Of UK Accountability And Social Media

Gay Rights are Human RightsGood news boys and girls! Gay people now have the right to get married in England and Wales! This means marriage and not just “Civil Ceremonies” . It’s been a long time coming and I for one completely and absolutely support this. We are not living in the stone age, it’s the 21st Century and people have the right to marry the person they love, whoever that may be. I understand some people may see it as questionable in some religious outlooks, but that doesn’t make it wrong and it doesn’t make it right to treat gay people differently. Political parties also consider it wrong, mainly Conservatives, old fashioned Tories. Whilst the leader of the Conservative party publicly supported the change in order to shake off this “old fashioned” view of the Conservatives, most of the party voted against it. People have the right to believe in whatever they like but, as a result, the world is filled with opposition and disagreements. What is not OK though, is for an MP, someone who is meant to be representative of their public, blocking members of their constituency on social media when faced with criticism over their actions.

The Story

My friend, tweeted her MP, Therese Coffey, the following tweet when finding out she had voted against gay peoples right to marry:

“Time to step down. You’re out of touch, unrepresentative and an embarrassment to Suffolk!

Understandable when you feel someone who should be representing you, votes against the thing you feel so passionately about. I guess it may have been considered harsh, or even aggressive and the MP in question found it so, but feelings are feelings and an MP should be listening to them. What is not understandable, is that Therese Coffey responded by blocking my friend on Twitter rather than giving a reasonable, detailed explanation of why she voted the way she did. As an MP, she should be willing to be held to account over her actions by her constituents when they feel she voted against their opinions. Yes, she can vote for what she believes in but it should be the people she is representing, but rather than blocking people who critise her, she would have been better off writing an explanation about why she voted how she did.

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Social Media And Politics, Does It Work?

Sometimes it can work, other times, such as this, it really backfires. Social media is a great way for an MP to make themselves accessible to the public. They can gage the opinions  ideas, feelings, concerns of those who they represent. On the other hand, they open themselves up to criticism, ridicule and opposition. That is a factor they will know before deciding to launch a social media platform. You can’t be so blind as to think you will not be a victim of this sort of tweet in the face of life changing votes. Is it right or even OK for MPs to have to put up with aggressive or even rude tweets (not that I think this tweet was either)? No, but they are in a role which, unfortunately for them, they should expect it. MPs need to be held to account, that means explaining themselves to the public, even when it may result in anger, not cutting out the noise and ignoring it like this.

~Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ep_jhu~

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