UK Conservative leader no fan of Twitter

Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:59am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - They disagree on economic policies and how best to handle the recession and now it appears Britain's two major political parties have found a new area of division -- the social networking site Twitter.

The day after the Labour government said it had published a guide to help ministers understand how to use Twitter, Conservative leader David Cameron dismissed the service on Wednesday, even using bad language to make his point.

"I'm not on Twitter. Politicians do have to think about what they say," Cameron, widely tipped to be the next prime minister with his party way ahead in the polls, said in an interview on the Absolute Radio music station.

"The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it, is I think that too many twits might make a twat."

Twat is a derogatory term referring to women's genitalia and Cameron, who also said Britons were "pissed off" with politicians over a parliamentary expenses scandal, later apologized for his language.

Twitter, which lets users post "Tweets" of up to 140 characters, has surged in popularity since its launch in 2006.

The government's new guide asks ministers to tweet "a minimum 2 and a maximum of 10 tweets per working day, with a minimum gap of 30 minutes between tweets to avoid flooding our followers."

Ministers were also encouraged to tweet with credibility and bear in mind relevant issues.

Labour has been keen to tap into new media to spread its message, although it has provoked criticism in the past. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was ridiculed for his awkward demeanor when he made a policy announcement using the YouTube website in May.

(Reporting by Michael Holden)

<p>Britain's opposition Conservative Party Leader David Cameron listens as shadow Chancellor George Osborne delivers a speech on the economy in London July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>