Skepta, a cheeky Nandos, and the Leadership Debate.

Is social media’s engagement with the leadership debate evidence of young people being more interested in politics, or has Downing Street and all who inhabit it become a laughable meme of the millennia’s?

It’s the run up to the General Election, and political leaders are doing all they can to ensure success on May the 7th. Last Thursday, about 7.7 million people tuned in to see David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg, Nicola Sturgeon, Natalie Bennet and Leanne Woods thrash it out in ITV’s election debate, in the hopes of promoting their key policies and crushing their opponents.

The debate sparked a flurry of conversation and divided reaction amongst the public, as social media reacted in full force. There were more than 1.5 million tweets related to the debate only a day after the programme aired.

Digital technology is widening the reach of the political dispute, as a mere scroll through Twitter would expose you to general debate and opinion on our main party leaders.

The response was immense, but perhaps not all of it was quite as serious and analytical as the leaders would have hoped. Social media users relished in the two hour long programme, and used it as an excuse to mock those taking part. Memes, vines and jokes were made about everything from Ed Miliband’s unnerving stare to the debate resembling an episode of Take Me Out, and they were pretty funny. Here are a few of my personal favourites:

Tweet by David Lewis on Ed Miliband drifting off during the debate - 2 April 2015

nandos

Tweet by a parody account of Prince Charles on the debate - 2 April 2015

Tweet by Medieval Reactions on Nigel Farage - 2 April 2015

Tweet by Buzzfeed's Alan White on the debate heckler - 2 April 2015

and here are two particularly hilarious memes…

https://twitter.com/ashTV/status/583949498436689922

https://twitter.com/TheLadBible/status/58396295689708339

Twitter and Facebook blew up with humorous takes on that nights political heckling of the main party leaders, but should we be celebrating or condemning this? Regardless of that fact that I am 100% for taking things lightly and bringing laugher into all serious matters, this coverage also serves to make the debate appealing to people who may otherwise see it as mind-numbingly boring. Any response, good, bad or fundamentally piss-taking, is a response after all. It’s often a worry that not enough younger people bother to vote, and I feel that if politics can break onto social media on this way, they may have to start taking notice.

Furthermore, social media opens up possibilities for public opinion, meaning that anybody can gauge the general consensus, and people will be exposed to opposing opinion For example, twitter revealed that Sturgeon received the most positive response over the two main party leaders:

twitter poll

Thanks to the marvel that is social media, people no longer have to be “interested” in politics to know whats what. Twitter summarises the work, words and wisdoms of all the party leaders. You don’t have to even watch the debate, or read drawn out coverage of it, in order to obtain a grasp of popular policy and popular failings. Knowledge and diversion of opinion over the the election is spreading on a rapid digital scale, even if it results in somebody only referring to Miliband as the “guy who stares a lot”.

Credit to: BBC News at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32174120 for figures and some tweets.

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