POP POLITICS: Gillard Team Caught In The ‘Twitter Bubble’

Getty / Mark Kolbe (File)

Canberra is in one of those weird states of paralysis at the moment, waiting to see if federal Labor MPs will decide to return the party leadership to Kevin Rudd by the end of next week.

Julia Gillard’s attempt to raise the specter of women’s voices being “banished” from politics, with all key decisions being taken by “men in blue ties” if the Coalition takes office, has only served to ratchet up concern among her MPs that the Prime Minister has a tin ear.

Coalition-aligned Queensland PR strategist Lyall Mercer offers one explanation for it: he tells The Australian that the Prime Minister’s strategists are living in a “Twitter Bubble”:

“The Twittersphere was quite happy about the blue-tie comments but when you look at the polling . . . it’s clear they’re on the wrong track.”

Actually, many political commentators on Twitter were decidedly unimpressed by Gillard’s speech, but there’s value in the underlying analysis that the PM is too focused on tapping into issues that will travel well on social media, rather than reassuring voters on jobs and the economy.

The PM’s Twitter and Facebook accounts regularly share pretty graphics advocating for key policies, urging users to “like and share” if they agree with a raft of initiatives ranging from the Gonski education reforms to dental cover and childcare. Here’s an example:


Clever use of social media is an important part of modern political campaigning but as the polls have persistently shown in recent months, retweets don’t translate to votes.

There’s no firm indication on whether there’ll be a leadership challenge when the Labor caucus meets this morning. Some Rudd supporters are saying the former PM has to break his pledge not to challenge Gillard, and bring on the spill. This happened before – in March, when Simon Crean asked the PM to call a spill of the leadership and said Rudd had to be prepared to challenge her. We know how that worked out.

There’s more on Gillard’s continuing failure to connect with voters at The Oz.

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