UK Politics

When tweets by MPs go wrong

Geoffrey Cox Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The attorney general is currently at the forefront of the UK's Brexit negotiations

Compared with many of his colleagues in parliament, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is not a prolific tweeter.

That perhaps explains a tweet earlier on Monday which - after some words on Brexit - included the phrase "Get Outlook for iOS".

It appears to be a default signature, perhaps copied and pasted from an aide's email.

It's not the first example of a politician struggling to get to grips with the medium.

Back in April 2015, Labour MP Harriet Harman was also mocked for a tweet which suggested a lack of familiarity with how the website works.

The usual way somebody would share a Facebook post is by taking a screenshot or linking.

But Labour's former deputy leader took a photograph of a copy of the post that had been printed out on paper, then tweeted that out.

And long before Get Outlook for iOS, there was Ed Balls Day.

According to the Mirror, the phenomenon started when the former shadow chancellor was busy tracking down ingredients for a pulled pork BBQ to celebrate the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

An aide rang up, advising him to search Twitter for an article that mentioned him.

He hit the wrong button, and the rest is history.

The tweet, which now has more than 100,000 retweets, became a meme, with Twitter users marking the event on 28 April each year.

Last year even Luke Skywalker joined in.

Twitter is a way for politicians to interact with the public more directly than traditional media - and it is unforgiving of things that appear inauthentic.

And this 2015 tweet of David Cameron supposedly on the phone to President Obama was roundly mocked.

Actor Patrick Stewart joined in the fun.

One Twitter blunder in 2014 cost a leading MP her job in the shadow cabinet.

The then shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry was campaigning in Rochester in Kent for a by-election, when she sent this tweet of three England flags and a white van.

Image copyright TWITTER
Image caption The tweet was posted on polling day

The then Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was "furious" about the tweet which gave a "misleading impression".

The resident of the house, Dan Ware, said Ms Thornberry was a "snob" while her actions were also criticised by Conservative leader David Cameron and UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Ms Thornberry told reporters she "made a mistake" and apologised "if she had upset or insulted anybody", before quitting her post.

MPs who slip up on social media should take comfort in the fact that these things do blow over - Ms Thornberry is now back on the Labour front bench in a more senior role, as shadow foreign secretary.

Related Topics