Cheap tricks in an electoral race? This is classic Boris, says Aaron Lee
Elegance isn’t Boris Johnson’s style and neither is playing by the rules. As if having his own freesheet wasn’t enough already, now he’s hijacked a Twitter account and redirected web users in an attempt to boost his re-election chances. Labour kicked up a fuss – and they were right to. Boris has rightly been forced to back down.
I’m sure lots of people secretly harbour a desire to hijack a public radio station for their own pursuits, but I’m not sure how many of those in public office would attempt it. Boris, on the other hand, has no such qualms. His takeover of the mayoral Twitter account and redirection of www.london.gov.uk visitors to his own re-election campaign site, backboris2012.com, was foul play.
Of course, in Boris’s view, it doesn’t matter who sets up a social media page registered to a public office. It’s about personality, which is something he believes voters see in him: “I don’t think anyone is any doubt that the amount of followers have been built up on [the @MayorofLondon] account are directly because it is Boris Johnson’s. Does anyone really think that a man [Ken Livingstone] who has just 5,000 Facebook friends compared to Boris’s 125,900 would have built up a following on Twitter of 253,100?”
Getting elected has always been about politicians getting their policies, and their personality, in front of voters. Facebook and Twitter have changed the rules of political campaigning. Boris knows how to play the game. His multi-platform campaign already spans everything from social media to letterbox bombardments. If he‘s so confident about his gift of gab, he shouldn’t need a boost.
Next week, EastLondonLines have a series of special reports for the upcoming GLA elections.