Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Like Rory, who will choke on the final run-in?

WHILE all hearts go out to unsuccessful Masters golfer Rory McIlroy, the question is which party will choke as May 5th comes closer.

Rory played wonderfully and already unfair commentators are concentrating on his final round, rather than the other three fantastic days. But while Rory will grow and learn from his mistakes throughout the summer tours, political parties have only one shot at the Assembly every four years; one misplaced drive at the opposition and voters are less forgiving than the Augusta course around Amen Corner.

Will the rifts that appeared in the UUP be papered over to preserve the vote? Will Caitriona Ruane’s poll rating as the least popular minister affect her electoral chances? Can Alliance capitalise on Naomi Long’s Westminster poll or slide back into perennial pretenders? Will the DUP smite once more the TUV’s challenge?

The hustings are unforgiving places for any politician, and the battle won’t be won or lost by who has the most posters on the lampposts. Instead we have a new phenomenon creeping into the election – the reactivated social media politician!

During the Westminster election politicians scrambled on to Twitter and Facebook, and then promptly forgot about it! Now, as an election looms that may affect their pay packets you cannot get moving on Twitter for tweets from parties and increasingly desperate candidates.

Goodness only know how any normal people are expected to organise parties, keep track of sporting fixtures when politicians are clogging up social sites, and punters are changing predictions daily on the same.

In the meantime, there is something particularly unforgiving about the social media. In previous elections what was said on telly or in the papers was quickly forgotten. But in the social media what is said is not forgotten. It is there forever. One wrong word, one misplaced phrase can come back to haunt; one post about the opposition can be cast back whenever your enemies choose.

We think we might just actually read some of those Tweets and Facebook updates – who knows what material we may find there!

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