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Twinge: you Tweet if you want to

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 05 October 2009

How can social media impact politics in the run-up to the next general election? We asked MPs and bloggers what they thought at a series of events at party conferences, with the public tweeting in their questions.

You Tweet if you want to

Channel 4 News and Fishburn Hedges hosted two Twinge (Twitter Fringe) events where we invited people to join in and follow the discussion live on Twitter.

The events were a roaring success, with Cabinet ministers taking part, top bloggers putting their views in and so many tweets coming in that #twinge became one of the top trending topics on Twitter.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy chaired the events titled, "You Tweet if you want to: the web is for opposition not for governing" at both the Labour conference and the Conservative conference. Catch up with both here.

5 Oct 2009 - Twinge at Conservative conference

We were at the Conservative conference in Manchester on Monday.

On the panel with Krishnan Guru-Murthy were Daniel Hannan MEP, Peter Barron (Google), Iain Dale (Iain Dale's Diary), Tim Montgomerie (ConservativeHome) and Douglas Carswell MP.

Blogger Guido Fawkes made a guest appearance as well.

Daniel Hannan on #welovetheNHS: "It [the #welovetheNHS campaign] was a Labour party campaign and it attracted about 11,000 people."

Iain Dale on John Prescott's tweets: "Does anyone seriously think that was John Prescott sending in those tweets there? It's his son David that does it."

Guido Fawkes on Twitter: "Twitter is sh*t. Is it some kind of 140 character placebo for democracy? I don't think so."

Read the tweets or watch the video.

28 Sep 2009 - Twinge at Labour conference

Ed Balls, Caroline Flint, Tom Watson and Labour Twitter czar Kerry McCarthy all joined Krishnan Guru-Murthy at the Labour Twinge event, with John Prescott sending a message via YouTube.

Ed Balls on twittering: "Sometimes I think hard about it, and sometimes I do it very quickly."

Caroline Flint on social networking: "At least you can get your version of the truth out there quickly."

Read what else they said and watch the highlights from the event here or watch the whole event.

How has social media changed politics already?

In the USA, Barack Obama's use of social media revolutionised his presidential campaign (watch the video report for the inside story from Joe Rospars, his head of new media).

In the UK, Gordon Brown received a cyber-slating for an appearance on YouTube at the height of the MPs' expenses scandal, and the Twitter #welovethenhs campaign took on a life of its own after Republican attacks of the British health system.

But where do things go from here? Is the web really a tool for serious government, or does it work best as a vehicle for opposition attacks and campaigns?

These are among the issues we debated with cabinet ministers and bloggers on both sides of the political divide.

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