Daily Archives: March 30, 2010

Engagement in the #askthechancellors Debate

2m tuned in live to watch the Chancellor’s debate live on Channel 4 last night (I was live-blogging it for Reuters). Yet if viewing figures are to be believed, something like 4 times as many watched both Eastenders and Coronation St on different channels.

So was it worthwhile even bothering? The people who will really decide the election are those watching the soaps, and the key issue is going to be whether they are fed up of Labour after 13 years or whether they don’t believe that Cameron and his Tories offer any real alternative.

One thing is clear, they are not bothered enough to stop watching the soaps so they could spend an hour watching the politicians love-in.

Many are calling the experiment a failure and already denouncing the US-style leader debates planned for later in the election campaign. But is it any real surprise? So many people are disaffected and uninterested in politics it could be argued conversely that to get 2m live viewers for a political debate on a Monday evening, plus all the online activity and debate, is actually a great success.

I think it’s useful to get the politicians on TV and on the spot. Like all TV, it’s not possible to delve into detail. So many questions were left unanswered during the debate yesterday because it would be too boring or technical to drill into tax codes, but a lot of politics is about trust in leaders and the TV debates do help to establish who is confident of finding a solution, and who the public enjoy hearing.

Policies and ideology matter, but skilled presentation wins votes.

Third Ealing Tweetup

We had the third Ealing tweetup, in the Rose & Crown pub, on Sunday. Thanks very much to those who attended, including @clicooke, @haydens30, @angelicamari, @ruskin147, @franprotti, @rodsloane, @qhphotography, and @benpopps – plus various friends and family who might not even be on Twitter!

It was enjoyable once it got going and the chat started, however it was a lot smaller than I had expected. Over 20 people had confirmed that they wanted to come along so I ensured that a section of the pub was reserved for us. That was 5 tables all blocked together and on a busy Sunday lunchtime it was good of them to reserve the places for us.

All three of the major political parties had emailed me about coming along, and not a single politician showed up. I can only presume that as the election campaign is a moment away, they were up to something else on Sunday. I know it was the campaign launch for the Labour party on Sunday, but you might assume that they would in fact want to be talking to local people who are broadcasting opinions online everyday?

Anyway, I sat there all alone for the first half an hour, feeling a lot of pressure at holding all the seats to myself, as people were clearly looking for places to eat lunch and all our section was marked as reserved. I eventually started giving up tables, and people started arriving for the Tweetup, so we managed to find a nice medium where some tables were returned, but we blocked out a smaller section and chatted there.

@ruskin147 even managed to broadcast a live video from the pub while we were talking. Next time, I might bring a couple of laptops so we can stream video and tweet from the table.

I think that trying it on a Sunday was clearly a mistake as most people seem to associate something like a Tweetup as work and networking, and so it doesn’t fit into Sunday. Second, if we plan another event like this on a weekday evening and you say that you are coming, then please do turn up, or send a note in advance… it would really help with the planning for how many places to reserve.

And I really don’t need the stress of being an event organiser – this is supposed to be about getting together local bloggers and Twitter users in an informal environment, not me trying to get experience hosting events and rushing around explaining to venues why the numbers are different!

See you next time for the fourth Tweetup, hopefully in May, and this time with some corporate backing to help the drinks flow… more to be revealed soon!

Ricky Martin is gay

Why the fawning, accepting, media coverage of Ricky Martin? This is a man who is 40 next year. He has been famous for nearly 20 years.

Why did his advisors insist that he never revealed his sexuality until now, and why did he never ignore that advice? Are we still following the line that it’s OK for svengalis like ‘Colonel Parker’ to control their stars to the extent that sexuality is suppressed so female fans are not ‘disappointed’.

The real disappointment is that Ricky Martin doesn’t live in the twenty-first century and his behaviour could be judged by many as extremely negative, reinforcing the perceived shame of being gay. How can he now perform in front of gay fans and not feel the shame of two decades of deception?

How about some of the press being more critical, or do we have to rely on Peter Tatchell and Outrage! to make these comments?