I’ve been converted to Twitter, and here’s the reason why...

Speaker's Corner
Speaker's Corner

Some months, if not years, after many MPs took up Twitter, I have finally signed up.

Gazette reporter David O’Neils was quick to ask me – on Twitter, of course – to explain why, but I didn’t think I could really answer it in 140 characters or fewer. However, I will have a stab now.

Why was I resistant in the first place? First, I thought it was a craze that would not last, so I was wrong there.

Second, the only time I heard anything about people using Twitter was when they said something foolish. The solution is not to say anything foolish, I suppose. Let’s see how that one goes.

Third, for some it could seem addictive and time-consuming. True, but it doesn’t have to be. A bit of willpower is needed.

The fourth reason relates to the nature of what an MP does.

Being an MP is a multi-faceted role.

First and foremost we represent our constituencies.

Some constituents will follow their MP and will want news about a local MP is up to in the constituency.

We are also party representatives wanting to make the case that the country does better when our party is in power and that the other lot would make things a lot worse.

MPs will want to communicate that in order to rally our supporters and persuade the undecided – and because we sincerely believe it.

In my case, I am also a minister with particular responsibilities.

There will be those interested in tax policy announcements who might want to follow me for information about what the government is doing.

That means the people who might follow my Twitter account would be a diverse group. The political anorak fascinated by my witty put-downs of Ed Balls might not be that excited about how we should commemorate the 950th anniversary of 1066 at Berkhamsted Castle.

The Bovingdon resident interested in the future of the Bobsleigh Hotel may have limited interest in how our tax reforms have attracted a company to relocate its corporate HQ from Switzerland to the UK.

In other words, just as my job is multi-faceted, so would be my tweets.

Unless your interests include South West Herts news, politics, economic policy generally and tax in particular, plus a little bit of cricket and football thrown in, not every tweet is for you.

Admittedly, that is a smallish target audience – consisting of me plus an accountant in Berkhamsted, I think.

But in the end, I decided to run the risk of boring the politicos with local news and so on because it is a very good way of conveying what I am getting up to.

For example, the weekend after I started tweeting was Small Business Saturday and I was able to set out very quickly what I was doing.

What I hadn’t quite realised is that it was a very good way of keeping up with local news – not least by following Gazette journalists like @edgazette and @BerkhamstedGaz.

My recommendation? If you are not already on Twitter, set yourself up and follow me @davidgauke!

But that does bring me to one problem – you can get a little competitive. The Gazette pointed out that my Dacorum colleague Mike Penning (@Penning4Hemel) started at much the same time but had fewer followers. Mike said it wasn’t a competition which is what I would have said if I was a long way behind, as he was.

A month on, he is still way behind. I know it really doesn’t matter, but let’s keep it that way! Remember, it’s @davidgauke.

David Gauke is the Conservative MP for South West Herts. He can be contact on 01923 771781 or via his website at www.davidgauke.com – and, of course, on Twitter.