Right Thinking: The Real Minister Of Twitter

Conservative columnist Dr. Frank Shizenhausen has something powerful to say about politicians’ use of social media

When the revolution comes they’ll announce it on the internet first. The socialists have even set up a site called Red Alert, so that they’ll all know when its time for them to rise up and eat our babies.

That’s why I keep an eye on the place. As the day of the revolution draws closer I know I’ll need to increase my efforts to arm. The bunker’s coming along nicely, and the courier should be along any moment now with the rocket launcher I ordered from Trade Me. Here’s hoping the Russian MIG fighter arrives in the post before Red Alert announces the beginning of the Terror.

There’s no call to revolution going on over there just yet, but they are deriding our finest ever finance minister since Sir Roger, and let me tell you it makes me sick.

All because of this message that Mr English posted on Twitter.

(I’m told that all the kids call these mini-messages “tweets”. No doubt a word dreamed up while they were high on P)

I confess that in recent weeks I have myself dabbled in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. It’s all part of my effort to engage more with my allies, and to force my ideological enemies (women, zookeepers, Plunket nurses etc) to cower in terror. I read somewhere that effective social networking was all about sharing a part of yourself with the world. That’s why every day on my Facebook wall I post a picture of my morning ablutions. I’m regular as clockwork, am I, thanks to a steady diet of bran, oats and women’s panties. Do you like what you see? Am I doing this social networking thing right?

The thing that bugs me the most is that nobody seems to want to converse with me online. Why won’t that Justin Bieber talk to me, dammit! I ought to go round there and take a belt to his hide, the whiny little toad.

Frivolous conversation is one thing, but when you’re a responsible guardian of the nation’s accounts the rules are different. That is why I have to take my hat off to Mr English for showing a suitable restraint and frugality when it comes to his Twitter output. You know someone is doing it all right when the socialists are mocking them.

Some MPs just can’t restrain themselves on Twitter. They tweet every idea that comes into their heads. But the nation can’t afford such extravagance, thanks to nine long years of Labour misrule. All this social networking will end up costing in the end, and we the taxpayer will end up picking up the bill. I wouldn’t be surprised if all this incessant social media noise knocks a few planes out of the sky. That’s one reason why I never fly. That and the restraining order.

So thank God for Bill English. Just like his financial management, his Twitter account is sensible, conservative and low on interventionism. Instead of going stupid with communicating to the voters and engaging with us, he wisely leaves his officials to regurgitate occasional links to press releases, while he gets on with more important tasks, like finding creative ways to claim a housing allowance.

The English plan of answering one Twitter question a week shows he is up to the task. Politicians from the left are forever clamouring for the government to intervene in the economy, to spend money we can’t afford, and to wade into the market. But National’s Twitter policy shows that this government does have a clear plan, and that frugality and restraint in tweeting are the order of the day. Bravo! Think of the hundreds of thousands of valuable tweets we could be saving every day if we all took Bill English’s lead.

A finance minister who takes more than 30 seconds a week to engage with his social media followers is a luxury we simply cannot afford in these difficult times. The notion that political leadership involves listening to others may be the latest fad, but it’s a fad English and his boss John Key are happy to resist. They aren’t interested in what we have to say, which is a damn relief. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that democracy works best when people just do as they’re told.