Election candidates clash on TwitterBy Jeremy Drakes
April 20, 2012
Several borough candidates are using Twitter to help their campaign and keep in touch with residents.
The Liberal Democrats and Conservative candidates such as Winnersh hopeful Mark Ashwell are prolific tweeters and there has been online sparring about election issues.
Mr Ashwell, a local businessman and president of Wokingham & Emmbrook FC, has set up a separate Twitter account for his election campaign, @Mark4Winnersh.
Mr Ashwell has been criticised for his Emmbrook home address, which is a few hundred metres away from the Winnersh boundary.
He said: “My mantra is I have absolute empathy with the community of Winnersh because I have lived in Reading Road for over 25 years.
“I live 300 metres away from Winnersh ward.”
Councillor Prue Bray, member for Winnersh and leader of the Lib Dems, said the issue over Mr Ashwell’s address came out because he had stated his address is Winnersh.
Mr Ashwell, who stood as an independent candidate at the last General Election against Conservative MP John Redwood, said: “My Twitter account is going on my election literature and I will use it afterwards if I am elected.
“You can’t be afraid to use it and you need to try and use it as honestly as you can.
“It can be quite hard to put things across in 140 characters or less then it goes off into the ether but it is worth it to communicate with people.”
Bins have been a major issue for Wokingham's Twitter-ati, with the subjects #wokyrubbish and #bingate making frequent appearances.
Cllr Bray said: “I have been tweeting for about two years and I tweet one or two times a day.
“It is useful to see what people are saying all over the borough and to see Wokingham Borough Council’s response to enquiries on Twitter.
“I think some people have found it easier to get an immediate response from the council on Twitter.
“I think excessive use is not a good thing, but it is useful for getting out there.”
Twitter user Matthew Dent, who is standing for election in Wargrave for Labour, said while there are not many election candidates to communicate with on Twitter, the interaction with residents had been useful.
Mr Dent said: “It is about gauging people’s feelings on issues.
“It is very hard to discuss policy in 140 characters, but issues such as the bins are easier.
“The wokyrubbish hash tag is being used a lot and it allows you to have conversations with other Twitter users about what the problems are.”
Tweets from @Mark4Winnersh over the last two weeks include:
- “U started spliting hairs ovr my #winnersh roots – @imogensd is standing in Shinfield @pruebray husband is standing in Norreys – staggering!”
- “All tweet questions asked of me by @pruebray @devoncatt answered but no reciprocation in #winnersh Plse vote4me and I’llwork4U in #woky boro”-
- “@PrueBray tells a contrived story of #woky waste collection Tonight’s canvassing on her doorstep in #winnersh NOT ONE mention of bins”
Tweets from @PrueBray over the last two weeks include:
- “@Mark4Winnersh for the umpteenth time Mark, you do not live in #winnersh. Where do you vote? Oh yes, NOT #winnersh”
- “@Mark4Winnersh I suspect people don’t mention bins to you because they think you aren’t interested.”