I can't vote, I live in America.


...though I can't as I live in the US

The DUP are up and running with their billboard campaign.  And as we will all find over the next few weeks we will be inundated with the things.

However, as with social media, you can get caught out very easily indeed if you are not being as true to your brand as possible.  Which in this case, has happened.  Woops

The billboard reads, 

I want an MP who answers to us - not the Tories.  I'm voting DUP

All well and good until..........you find out that the lovely young lady can not actually vote for the DUP.  She is not even on the electoral register.  In fact, she is not even in the country.  She is an American lady and can be bought, if you so desire, over the old interweb from a stock photo vendor at iStockPhoto.com

Now this is not the first time political parties have used this here.  there was the rather awful Ulster Unionist Party stock photo for its 'Decent People....' campaign a number of years ago.  The genius of Newton Emerson and his acerbic wit did a wonderful rehash of the poster, with a more cutting and probably accurate strapline. 'Decent people.......Leave Ulster'.  And I am not totally sure the people in the picture could take part in voting for any of our political parties, either.

The Labour and Conservative parties are real experts in the 'poke fun at the opposition' game.

Labour have MyDavidCameron and Conservatives have The Department of Government Waste.

Labour also tried to have a go at David and the Tories by photoshopping him onto the body of Detective Gene Hunt from 'Ashes to Ashes' with the strapline 'Don't let him take Britain back to the 1980s'.  A good poster, but it seriously backfired when the Conservative wags got their hands on it they turned a negative spin into a positive spin.

While i am a geek regarding the serious conviction of how politics can be a driver for the good of society, I really do love to see witty, funny and wit filled party campaigns as well.  its good to have a sense of humour, and there is the old saying 'If you couldn't laugh, you would cry'

Has politics done for Twitter??


The Fail Whale 
I have been trying to get on to twitter for a few moments there (around 1.20pm or so) and it kept coming up with the Fail Whale.

I wonder, what with all the hullabaloo about the General Election, has the activity on twitter surrounding the Conservative manifesto been so much that twitter went over capacity? 

Whether it was good or bad, remains to be seen!

Twitter is growing a business model.


Gives your business wings
Firstly, many thanks to @senseilp (Dawn Baird of Sensei) for bringing this to my attention 

Twitter is growing up by growing a business model.  This growth towards creating a revenue stream for the company and its investors can be read fully on its blog.

Twitter will not be charging users, oh no, not at all! It will be using a form of advertising through a system called 'Promoted Tweet'.

Essentially, advertisers will be able to pay for tweets.  These 'Promoted Tweets' are ordinary Tweets that businesses and organisations can pay Twitter for the opportunity to highlight to a wider group of users on the Twittersphere (I am now getting all twittered out!).

Twitter HQ will measure whether the Tweets resonate (whatever that actually means!) with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t. They will be clearly labeled as “promoted” and will be sent to those who follow a relevant brand. Promoted Tweets will also retain all the functionality of a regular Tweet.

Twitter has more in the pipeline as well.  After assessing this first stage they plan to allow Promoted Tweets to be shown by third party platforms 

If you are interested you can find out more on their blogpost.  It certainly seems that they have been thinking long and hard about how to maintain a user led resource that is free at the point of use, whilst looking at the long term sustainability of the company.  This can only be a good thing, and begin to ensure that people see Twitter as less of a fad and more of a serious platform for engagement.

social media savvy, or the lack thereof in Northern Ireland


This General Election is getting very interesting indeed.

Not because of the usual shenanigans, but because of the attempts to show how 'switched on , hip and happening' politicians are by engaging with the phenomenon that social media is.

The Purpose of a Business is to Create a Customer…who creates customers

In the case of an election it is more about

The Purpose of a political party is to Create a loyal active voter…who creates loyal active voters

The present General Election has seen a plethora of political parties moving into the virtual constituency space, and the exciting potentials also provide opportunities for major gaffes.

Labour has also been found slight wanting in its understanding of social media per se.


there are also any number of fake twitter accounts for Northern Ireland such as @SammyWilsonMP, and a ton of fake Iris Robinson accounts (which i will not put links to from here.  If you really want to find them do a google search).

One account of note has been terminated very recently.  It was of Ann Cooper, the TUV candidate selected to fight for the Castlereagh seat vacated by Iris Robinson.  While it is no longer on twitter, google has kindly cached it.  The account was @TUVAnnCooper It was, shall we say, risqué, so be warned, though still tame compared to the fake  Iris accounts.

This is a salutary lesson for everyone, including politicians.  What goes on-line, stays on-line for a very, very long time.  Google, and other search engines, cache pages of information for storage and retrieval.  Even if it is taken down, the information will live as a 'ghost' for a long time on-line, fully searchable by those who wish to dig deep.

For a run down of the social media engagement, or lack thereof, by the local parties, I hope to fill a page with all the links to their on-line presence.

Even the UK Electoral office is using Facebook to alert potential voters about the impending election.

As an aside, I have found a number of Facebook pages that was set up very early in the morning in response to the Real IRA bomb at Palace Barracks.  One is called 'I Survived The Great Northern Ireland Explosion of 12/04/2010' while another is 'RIP JEDWARD - died 12/4/2010 12:24am by Holywood Bomb'.  Funny as they are, mostly because no one was seriously injured and no loss of life happened, it is really an example of the on-line constituency taking control of the publishing media and pushing their own ideas and agendas.  

Previously i have highlighted 'Hands of our Prep Schools' and 'Get Mephedrone of our streets'.

The Northern Ireland constituency are really getting to grips with Social media, maybe our politicians will be able to learn a thing or two about it too.

Department of Justice is 'virtually' here now.


And as if to finish off a run of explosions like the 1812 overture, the Department of Policing and Justice has just had its website launched.

On the site it says that;

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is a new Northern Ireland Department which came into existence on 12 April 2010 and was established by the Department of Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2010. It has a range of devolved policing and justice functions, set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010.  The role of the Department is to support the Minister for Justice to help keep the people of Northern Ireland safe.  In addition to its statutory functions, the department provides resources and a legislative framework for its agencies and arms length bodies (which together constitute most of the justice system in Northern Ireland). Together with these organisations the department is responsible for ensuring there is a fair and effective justice system in Northern Ireland and for increasing public confidence in that system.
This should be an interesting start to its brand new existence.  Bomb goes off, policing and justice website goes live.  What irony!

Wonder will the prats who planted the Palace Barracks bomb be amongst the first to go through the new devolved justice system?

Policing and Justice welcomed by numpties with bombs


Don't think its that secret now, thanks for pointing it out.
I have just been hearing on the twitter stream that a large explosion has happened at Palace Barracks, on the very eve of the devolution of policing and Justice.

Apparently bombs have been going off at Palace Barracks and on Loughshore, in Belfast.

The device at Palace Barracks went off at 12.24.  Thankfully no reports of serious injuries yet.

This will no doubt be an attempt to destabilise the progress of Northern Ireland towards a normal, peaceful existence. 

I think, if they have attacked Palace Barracks, they were going for maximum impact as the MI5 base is also in Palace Barracks.

These people, if i can call them that, have no place in our society.  They have no mandate. They have no political goals. They are continuing to fight a lost war.   

Please, if anyone has any information call the confidential Crimestoppers line o0800 555 111

The fall and rise of David Ford


First 'Minister for Justice'?
Well, it is the night before devolution of policing and justice and all is quiet.  And I am sure David Ford is getting ready for his crowning ceremony tomorrow.

In the picture is David Ford MLA, leader of the Alliance Party, and Alban Maginniss MLA, SDLP.

While Alban has a legal background and practised law, it will most likely be David Ford that will attain the lofty position of Minister for Justice.  He is the least divisive candidate, at least in the eyes of Sinn Fein and the DUP.  A similar precedent had been set in the first sessions of the NI Assembly with both Lord Alderdice and Eileen Bell of the Alliance party being the Speakers - a role that did do them a lot of credit.

Sounds like the usual fudgey type substance of a deal, which most of us just shrug our shoulders at.  However, there is an added twist. Read the press release below.

1.00.00pm BST (GMT +0100) Mon 4th Aug 2008

Alliance Leader David Ford has said his party will not take the proposed Policing and Justice Ministry following speculation on the issue in recent times. The Alliance Assembly Group met this morning at Stormont and discussed the matter.

David Ford said: "The Alliance Party will not be taking the Policing and Justice Ministry. This Executive is failing in its duties, so Northern Ireland needs a strong and coherent opposition. We are providing that opposition and we will continue to do so.

"The Executive is in crisis over planning, the environment, the 11-plus, Irish language, and the multi-sports stadium issue. Do the Executive parties expect us to take the Environment, Education and Culture Ministries to save their bacon on these matters?

"The Executive has not met since mid-June. It is in a crisis of its own making. It is up to the Executive parties to resolve this crisis as they are the government. They must start by actually meeting again as an Executive to discuss the outstanding issues. We are the opposition and we will remain so because this Executive is so poor that Northern Ireland needs a strong group to keep the pressure on it."

Then on 25 February 2010 David announced

Ford says Alliance can now nominate for Justice Ministry

11.35.06am GMT Thu 25th Feb 2010

Alliance Party Council last night recommended that Leader David Ford can now nominate a candidate for Justice Minister. Party Council agreed that the two conditions which Alliance raised have now been met. Sinn Fein and the DUP have agreed on the community relations strategy and genuine progress has been made on agreeing a Justice Department policy programme.

David Ford said: "There is now agreement on the community relations strategy and real progress on agreeing a justice policy programme. This has not been an easy decision to make but a decision has finally been reached. We have had much discussion within our party on this and now that our two conditions have been met, we can nominate for the post of Justice Minister.

"On Tuesday, the DUP and Sinn Fein announced that they had agreed the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration policy after a two and a half year delay. This is the first ever community relations strategy agreed in any period of devolution we have had in Northern Ireland. This did not happen when the UUP and SDLP were in charge. I believe that progress this week is due to Alliance pressure.

"Yesterday, we received assurances on the proposals that Alliance has put forward for the devolution of Justice. It is important that when devolution takes place there is agreement on policies, so that devolution is seen to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

"Alliance Party Council has recommended that we are now in a position to nominate a candidate for Justice Minister. We will be meeting with the First and Deputy First Ministers and a further announcement regarding the identity of the Minister will be made in the near future."
Yet throughout all Alliance Party press releases on Justice, nothing has since been mentioned about a dysfunctional NI Executive, nor about all those issues (that have remained unresolved) that made Alliance so agitated in August 2008.

Indeed, David stated that 

The Alliance Party will not be taking the Policing and Justice Ministry. This Executive is failing in its duties, so Northern Ireland needs a strong and coherent opposition. We are providing that opposition and we will continue to do so.


We are the opposition and we will remain so because this Executive is so poor that Northern Ireland needs a strong group to keep the pressure on it.

So what is the legitimate claim for the Alliance Party now? It, if it takes the Ministerial position, will no longer be the 'opposition'.  How can Alliance now say they are in opposition when they are now part of the 'Executive in crisis'?  What credibility does Alliance now have with its voters when it has done such a U-turn on its principle of being, as best as possible, an Opposition to the Government of Northern Ireland?  

David may come to rue the day his Party tasted this poisoned apple, and its moral high ground fell asleep. 


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