Why social media means there's no escape for tomorrow's politicians
A few years ago a wonderful clip emerged on YouTube which appeared to show a 22 year old David Cameron seemingly off his whatevers at an acid house party in 1988. Cameron subsequently denied that the long haired chap was him, which I think might be more due to horrendous fashion crimes – the figure is wearing awful dungarees – than it was to any implication that he might be doing things that many 22 year olds did at the time, but we’ll take his word for it. He arrives at about 11 secs if you are interested.
And while we wait for videos of Ed Miliband cartwheeling across a dancefloor to Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and a teenage Nick Clegg setting fire to plants it does make me think that this generation of politicians have actually got off lightly when it comes to their embarrassing early adult years.
Picture the scene in 2030 when today’s twentysomethings are the politicians of tomorrow. There will be no way to hide the drunken indiscretions, fashion crimes and worse of their youth as it will all be logged on social networking sites. And future bloggers and journos will be able to check how consistent they have been in their views by seeing what they said a couple of decades ago on Twitter. A few drunken words might well come back to haunt them.
It will all be there for everyone to see in the public domain. And even if the future leader of the Tory party does decide that their Shoreditch style specs and comedy lime trousers aren’t in keeping with the more sober view of themselves that they want to present to the country and deletes their Facebook pages, you can bet there will be lots of other people who have their own image of him/her tagged and ready to share.
The interesting question for me is how will this make us feel about the next generation of politicians. We still expect our politicians to be squeaky clean and have emerged unblemished out of nowhere. Hopefully the fact that their lives will have been so well documented by social media might help us to realise that they are people just like us who make all the same mistakes we do. Surely that can only be a good thing.
As for call me Dave, even if that dungareed loon wasn’t him he could at least drag out a few images of him sporting a Morrissey-esque quiff. Someone must have those photos hidden away in an attic somewhere!