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Should Guildford’s MP Have Closed Her Twitter Account?

Published on: 19 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 20 Jan, 2021

Angela Richardson

The decision to stop using Twitter by Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson has been questioned by two Dragon readers.

Christopher Houston wrote in: “I understand that my MP, Angela Richardson (Conservative), has closed her Twitter account.

“This seems to be at odds with most MPs who welcome getting closer to their constituents and hearing their views.

“Why has Ms Richardson done this? Does this move add substance to the many accusations that Angela Richardson is more interested in supporting Conservative government policy from Westminster than supporting the constituents of Guildford who elected her?

Another reader, Jonathan Richards, wrote: “It appears that our local MP has left Twitter. Previously she has been quite a regular contributor. Any idea why she has left?”

And ten days ago Lib Dem borough councillor Angela Goodwin tweeted:

Ms Richardson responded to Mr Houston’s question: “Considering I have advertised my surgeries for a significant period of time in The Guildford Dragon, with many ways in which constituents can contact me, I would hope your reader, if a regular one, would have seen this advertisement and contacted me if there were issues he wished me to raise on his behalf or ask for the help he needed.

“I am always happy to respond to constituents and my contact details are well-advertised outside of the Guildford Dragon too.”

In 2019 Martha Gill in The Guardian commented: “Almost all MPs have an account now and some tweet more than 60 times a day.

“But Twitter is not there to help them. It is there to trip them up. First it lulls them into a false sense of security – rewarding chit chat about their pets or their constituency, welcoming them into an environment where other people (not MPs) are free to tweet unguarded thoughts and opinions – and then, at some unspecified but certain point, it brutally shames them in front of the whole world. Twitter has nothing to lose, and they do.”

And Guildford’s MP is not the only MP to close her Twitter account. Marie le Conte writing in Parliament’s in-house publication The House, in January 2020, quoted Nickie Aiken, the new, at the time, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster: “I just got so fed up with Twitter during the local elections in 2018. You get a bit of abuse, but you also can’t debate with people in a few characters, and I just lost the will to actually take it seriously.

“A turning point for Aiken was noticing several ‘quite misogynistic’ fake accounts set up in her name before she was elected, which the platform refused to do anything about. ‘I took them to Twitter and they said, ‘it’s a parody, live with it’. It wasn’t parody in my opinion, it was abusive, and it was there to create harassment and bullying. I just thought ‘Fine. If that’s your attitude then I don’t need you, so I’ll just turn you off’. So, I stopped using it.’ ”

What do you think? Is it wrong for a politician not to use Twitter or other social media? Use the “Leave a Reply” feature below to have your say.

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test 12 Responses to Should Guildford’s MP Have Closed Her Twitter Account?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Sometimes it’s best not to comment. This virus has changed many things.

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Well at least she has been honest and transparent about it.

    Other councillors seem to only want one-way communication and take umbrage at being asked questions or requests to repost (missed?) regular reports.

    I’ve received suggestions that asking either for monthly reports or a link on the website should be put as Freedom of Information request. Then been blocked.

    I have never been rude nor insulting, as confirmed voluntarily by others who follow the subject of SCC Transport. Just a bit persistent when Cllr Matt Furniss ignores messages. It is strange as he invites people to contact him on SCC email, Twitter & Facebook.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    Frankly, given the amount of hatred and abuse that public figures and indeed public bodies, receive via their social media accounts, I’m not surprised that a number of them are abandoning those platforms.

    • Peta Malthouse Reply

      January 20, 2021 at 2:56 pm

      Sorry, I do think her response is a bit rude and partisan: “…if a regular one…” should not be used as a term to describe a constituent who appears to be a very mild complainant.

      The news that she is a user of Parler, which has been forced to change platforms because it allows dangerous rabble-rousing right-wing rhetoric should ring alarm bells for all constituents.

      I have asked before what her position is on a few topics that have come up here in letters but she has not troubled to answer.

  4. John Ferns Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    The world became a better (and safer) place when Twitter banned Donald Trump who tomorrow will become ex POTUS (President of the United States).

  5. Andrew Eacott Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    It was only 7 months ago that Mrs Richardson’s own website carried a statement defending her recent joining of Parler (the now closed, right-wing cesspool used by Trumpists to incite insurrection) by saying, “I have every intention of staying on all social media platforms and listening to what others are saying while I will eagerly defend my right to be offended and challenged.”

    That intention didn’t last long.

    I can’t say her contribution on Twitter will be missed though. From what I see,there are plenty of other people to repost press releases from Head Office and tow the party line.

    (Reference: https://www.angelarichardson.uk/news/protecting-right-free-speech-remains-vital-conservative-progress)

  6. Jacob Allen Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    Very sad that I’ve lost an avid follower 🙁

  7. John Schluter Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 12:27 am

    I’m not commenting on a Twitter presence for our MP but perhaps she would care to provide a regular update, via the Guildford Dragon say, on her voting options in Parliament and the reasons behind said decisions? Surely her constituents would welcome this?

  8. J Holt Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Good for her. I hope she sticks to her decision rather than making a gesture for a short time as frequently happens.

    It is possible to exist without social media where so many people have their say, often anonymously and viciously.

    An email seems a more civilised medium for personal communication.

  9. S Peters Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 9:15 am

    She never seemed to reply to anyone anyway, particularly if it was a question or criticism of her voting record. As far as I could see, it was mainly her retweeting messaging from Tory HQ and supporters.

    She has instead joined Parler, the right-wing “free speech” app which has been suspended from many app stores and hosting services for harbouring domestic terrorists, supremacist groups and other illegal content.

    There is no suggestion that her account has been involved in this activity, of course, but it’s an interesting choice of social network for an MP if the idea is to reach your constituents.

  10. Jane Hepburn Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Good for Angela Richardson abandoning Twitter. How did politicians survive without it? Maybe they can again?

    I’ve written to her a couple of times, though, with absolutely no response concerning matters close to my heart.

    Anne Milton on the other hand was amazing, embarrassingly so since she took incredible care and wrote personal letters, in an envelope, in reply to my concerns.

    She almost made me want to vote Conservative!

  11. Graham Richings Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    What is Twitter?

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