Monthly Archives: March 2015

Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year

I am really chuffed to learn that I have been named ‘Parliamentary tweeter of the Year’ in this year’s award organised by Westminster Public Affairs. I want to thank everybody who voted for me and participated in the public vote. Everyone will know how much I love twitter and I see it as an invaluable tool to communicate, share information and debate. This General Election is likely to be the first UK election where social media will play a major role in shaping public opinion and the vast majority of MPs now make use of this medium.

In Scotland we are perhaps ahead of the game. During the referendum social media became a place where Yes supporters shared information and mutually supported each other. Without Twitter and other social media our key messages would probably never have secured such a large audience. Twitter and other social media allowed us the platform and the opportunity to inform, campaign and to challenge some of the established orthodoxies of the mainstream press.

Thanks again and I will now get down to the business of tweeting the most exciting General Election that Scotland has perhaps experienced.

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Below is the press release from Westminster Public Affairs

Pete Wishart MP voted ‘Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year’ at 2015 Political Twitter Awards

Pete Wishart MP has been named the UK’s ‘Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year’ at the 2015 Political Twitter Awards. The SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire fought off stiff competition from Respect MP George Galloway who came second in the vote, and Green MP Caroline Lucas who came third. More than 2,000 people voted to decide the winner.

Of the other nine categories (voted on by the judging panel) winners included Stella Creasy MP, who won ‘Best Constituency Tweeter’, and Andrew Percy MP, who won ‘Funniest Tweet’. while Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP scooped the less prestigious ‘Selfie of the year’ award for his shot with, among others, Joey Essex (see HERE) and Oscar-winning actor Emma Thompson.

The top placed Tory MP in this year’s public vote for the Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year was Ed Vaizey MP, finishing in 4th place. Top Lib Dem was David Ward MP in 5th and Tom Watson was Labour’s highest placed MP, taking 6th spot. You can see a full list of categories and winners from this years awards at politicaltwitterawards.com.

Responding to his victory Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, who has over 13,000 followers on the social networking site, said: “I am delighted to have won this fantastic award and I want to thank everybody that voted for me as Parliamentary tweeter of the year. Social media is increasingly important to get our messages across and is increasingly the place where we all meet to discuss the issues and exchange views. Twitter allows us to have conversations with our constituents, promote the issues that are important to us and it is also just great fun. Most MPs are now on twitter and it will only continue to grow in importance and influence as the General Election approaches.”

The Political Twitter Awards, set up by UK lobbying firm Westminster Public Affairs (please link in all online copy to www.westminsterpa.com), celebrates the great and the good and the gaffes and guffaws of the UK’s MPs on social media site Twitter.

Olly Kendall (@OllyKendall), Managing Director of Westminster Public Affairs who organised this year’s awards and one of this year’s judges, said: “Huge congratulations to Pete for his victory. He won the popular vote by a fair margin over his closest competitor.

“It is arguably telling that the top three in the Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year category voted for by the public are not from Westminster’s three biggest parties. It suggests that Twitter can be an effective tool for MPs from the other parties, giving them a platform that the traditional media does not always  provide them with.”

The full list of winners at this years awards:

  • Selfie of the Year – Ed Miliband MP (@Ed_Miliband)

  • The ‘Ed Balls’ Twitter Gaffe of the Year – Emily Thornberry MP (@emilythornberry)

  • Best Parody Account – General Boles (@GeneralBoles)

  • Funniest Tweet – Andrew Percy MP (@andrewpercy)

  • Most Prolific Backbench Tweeter – George Galloway MP (@georgegalloway – calculated by formula outlined below)

  • Apology of the Year – Michael Fabricant MP (@Mike_Fabricant)

  • Most Influential Tweet – Baroness Warsi(@sayeedawarsi)

  • Best Constituency Tweeter – Dr Stella Creasy MP (@StellaCreasy)

  • Parliamentary Tweeter of the Year – Pete Wishart MP (@PeteWishart – decided by a public vote)

  • Hack of the Pack – Paul Waugh (@PaulWaugh)

At the end of last year Westminster Public Affairs (westminsterpa.com) published its ‘Parliamentary Twitter Analysis 2014’ in which it found that the use of Twitter by MPs was on the rise, with 71% of MPs now using the site and a select few sending more than 5,000 tweets each year.

The judging panel for this years awards were:

  • Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

  • David Singleton, Editor of Public Affairs News

  • Nick Tyrone, Associate Director of CentreForum

  • Olly Kendall, Managing Director of Westminster Public Affairs

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Towards the ‘Wing and a Prayer’ Parliament?

Hold the front page – “Labour rule out coalition with the SNP” – even though nobody ever thought for a minute that one would have happened! Besides, we in the SNP described it as highly unlikely anyway. In the increasingly silly debate about who is ‘getting into bed with whom’, it is getting increasingly difficult to determine what exactly is going to happen in the next Parliament. If you listened only to the more siren voices, you would think we were heading for a Parliament which would operate on nothing more than a wing and a prayer.

In the world of hung Parliaments there is a sliding scale of ‘arrangements’ starting with a full blown coalition like the one currently in place between the Conservatives and Liberals (the one that is now ruled out). Next in line there is ‘confidence and supply’- a negotiated deal for the duration of the Parliament where the smaller party secures concessions for a guarantee not to bring down the minority Government and help them get their legislative programme through. Further down there is a deal on an ‘issue by issue’ basis, where parties will meet to hammer out a deal on each piece of legislation, hoping to strike a deal to get that legislation through on a negotiated basis. In the Commons there is one more arrangement and that is the informal ‘usual channels’, where discussions are arranged on an ad-hoc basis to discuss legislation and its progress through the House. At the bottom, there is ‘no arrangement’, where there are absolutely no discussions at all.

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Listening to Scottish Labour, their language of ‘nothing must be offered’ and ‘no deal with the SNP’ would seem to suggest that it is the absolute rock bottom of ‘no arrangement’ where they are headed.

Let’s be clear, where Labour did the right thing we would support them. Where they did the wrong thing we wouldn’t. Labour are currently an austerity party committed to further departmental spending cuts. They are also committed to spending £100 billion on weapons of mass destruction. Historically, they introduced the bedroom tax in the private sector, tuition fees and foundation hospitals. Let’s also never forget that it was the last Labour Government that whipped its members to go into an illegal war in Iraq. Some of Labour’s austerity and Trident ambitions might secure support from the Tories.

We have set our stall in the next Parliament to use our influence to challenge austerity, end Trident renewal and deliver the powers to the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish people seem to want and believed they’d secure. We want to work with the Labour Party to keep the Tories out of Government and reverse their failed agenda. Surely the Labour Party would work with us to keep a Tory Government out of power? Wouldn’t they rather work with us on an anti-austerity programme rather than with the Tories? If they thought for a minute about keeping a minority Tory Government in power, when our combined numbers would deny them, they would be all but finished in Scotland.

Labour have absolutely no experience of minority Government and if it is to be the ‘wing and a prayer’ approach, it could be potentially disastrous for them- particularly when they are so poorly led. The SNP want to be a force for good across the UK with an agenda that we believe will benefit the whole of the UK, particularly the most marginal and vulnerable in the communities we serve.

Will Scottish Labour’s hatred of the SNP infect the ranks of the whole UK party, leaving the Tories in power, with dodgy deals on austerity? It really is up to them….