"The problem isn't Twitter, it's Collins"Featured comment
It seems like National MPs will be told to pull their heads in on social media — at least if the PM's comments this morning are anything to go by.
"Twitter can be very dangerous for politicians," the PM said on Breakfast this morning.
His comments followed Judith Collins sledging TVNZ reporter Katie Bradford over the weekend.
Most of the action centred on an interview with TV3, where the Justice Minister implied Ms Bradford had asked for help when her (then) husband, who was having trouble getting into Police College in 2010 (Ms Bradford denied asking for help).
But Ms Collins used Twitter in the build up (calling Ms Bradford a "liar" for reporting she hadn't seen her at National's northern region conference). She also used tweets to bait TV3 to follow up her Police College claim, and for her eventual apology.
Asked if he was comfortable with so much of Ms Collins conversation with Bradford and media taking place in the Twittersphere, the PM said he used Twitter himself. It was a nice way to acknowledge something like Lydia Ko winning a tournament that didn't necessarily warrant a full press from his office.
"But this sort of stuff I think is a very dangerous space for politicians from all sides of the house and I see people engaging in it, it’s not just our ministers, our people," Mr Key said.
"It gets late at night, people get tired, they don’t think it through, like emails. There are plenty of people who write emails in their workplace, hit the end button, then a month later when it’s being read back to them it isn’t quite the way it seemed."
The PM later commented, as he announced that Judith Collins was going on a "refresher" break, that the minister had let Twitter trolls get under her skin.
I hope the PM doesn't put the lid on social media.
It's a great way for people to reach politicians directly. And, for better or worse, MPs' true personality, and true opinions on issues, shine through.
And it's always fascinating to see which colleagues rally around, or don't, in a crisis.
More information is better.
Don't look for National MPs to disappear from Twitter anytime soon. The PM — or at least his office — is a slick social media operator, and he's not about to lose that direct engagement with voters.
But do expect fewer spontaneous tweets. Pity.
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