Michael Fabricant’s sacking as Vice Chairman of the Conservative party for opposing HS2 isn’t too shocking. After all, a party does have policies for a reason and regardless of your views on rail infrastructure, it’s obviously difficult to have a senior official who is a committed opponent of a major part of its platform.
More surprising are the claims that his Twitter antics were part of the problem. Of all the social media outlets, Twitter is the one which rewards interesting content and a unique voice the most – Fabricant’s account is full of innuendo, off the wall jokes and constant changes of self-mocking profile picture precisely because he understands what makes a good tweet. As a result, he’s a stand out success among tweeting MPs.
A bland Twitter account is a missed opportunity – I hope we aren’t going to see an outbreak of straight-lacery just as politicians start to show some personality online.
At the same time as social media offers new ways for a politician to make their name as celebrities, demand among voters for exactly that kind of politician is on the rise, too. Boris is the archetypal celebrity politician, exhibiting behaviour a world away from the old, grey stereotype of politics. Farage is performing similar tricks, to great effect so far.
Numerous MPs have clocked this and decided to have a crack at becoming a celebrity politico themselves. For example, this week Nadine Dorries follows up her I’m a Celebrity… appearance with her first novel.
Fabricant is cleverly using his Twitter account to do the same thing. So far it’s secured him an appearance on Have I Got News For You – and given how outrageous some of his stuff was while restrained by the propriety of office, goodness knows what will come next.
The Birmingham Post reports that he responded to his sacking with a joke about a TV career:
“I will continue to serve my constituents to the best of my abilities while hoping that the BBC will consider me as a replacement for Bruce Forsyth in Strictly Come Dancing.”
I’m not sure it was completely a joke.