The row over Grant Shapps’ bingo poster is an example of what happens when politicians assume that what goes in the Westminster bubble stays there. David Cameron and Paul Dacre may be right that ’too many tweets make a twat’ and Twitter can be a ‘phoney world’. But occasionally, one tweet can move into the real world too.
As Isabel reported yesterday, Conservative HQ’s ineffectual response to the misjudged Bingo poster suggests that they hoped the anger could be contained amongst the anti-Conservative brigade, many of whom spend their days tweeting abuse to George Osborne. But the number of spoofs (a selection can be seen above) and the fury within the Conservative party made this irresistible for the print media. One day after the row, there were still 3,400 tweets an hour, or 56 every minute, of #ToryBingo, according to Hashtags.org:
Today’s newspapers show the damage of simply dismissing what happens on social media. Given that the 2014 Budget has received a generally positive response, the Bingo posters are one of the few spoilers. The Daily Mail, which had a very positive splash on the Budget yesterday, is asking what many in the Tory party will be wondering: ‘Will “patronising” ad cost party boss Shapps his job?’
Nearly all the other papers of varying political slants have some coverage of the #ToryBingo row. We even had Danny Alexander and Ed Balls popping up on the BBC attacking the poster and explaining why it was such a stupid idea. Maybe it was a case of timing, bad procedures or maybe it was sheer ineptitude from the Tories' digital team. But perhaps Conservative HQ, and all political parties, should be more careful with Twitter storms in the future.