I had a front row seat to view the kerfuffle over an announcement to reshuffle the British government’s cabinet this summer. On Tuesday, July 15, 2014, Britain’s Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron tweeted “I’ll be reshuffling the Cabinet today. Watch this Twitter feed for the very latest. #Reshuffle.”
Prime Minister David Cameron
The release of this important information over Twitter and the lack of warning for this information shocked and angered the public as well as the media. Cameron’s use of social media aligned him with the younger demographic and averted media prejudices in the reshuffle reveal. Recent polls have indicated a strong preference for the Labour Party, while the media has indicated a strong preference for the Labour Party as well given the promised media cuts to the BBC by the Conservative Party if reelected in 2015. Although this reshuffle move via Twitter did not help the Conservative Party’s relationship with the media, it did help the Conservatives attract the attention of younger voters.
The new voting generation is a generation of immediacy, instantaneous-ness, multitasking, and social media, so placing the Parliamentary reshuffle information on Twitter is like speaking in the language of the young voters. This makes the reputed white, middle-aged Conservative Party seem more approachable and even younger. Time will tell if this move influenced some young voters to vote for the Conservative Party, but at the very least it did turn some young heads to the business of the party. The media’s head was turned as well because they did not know about this important parliamentary news before the rest of the world knew.
For the media—a job that requires insider information ahead of time—the Twitter feed indicates the Conservative Party’s lack of respect for the media and the media process in general. #Reshuffle on Twitter overturned the usual and expected media reporting of the important happenings in Parliament, leaving the media more nervous about the upcoming election if the Conservative Party wins in 2015.
Shira Weissmann is a senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Marketing at Washington University in St. Louis. Shira traveled to London and worked at the British Parliament with support from the Avram A. and Jill Glazer Global Learning Program this summer.
Images: The House of Parliament, Javier Díaz, FLickr Creative Commons; Prime Minister David Cameron, official photo, Flikr creative commons