Monday 9 December 2019

Voters 'don't care about social media', says Raab

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at the BBC Headquarters ahead of his appearance on the Andrew Marr show in London. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at the BBC Headquarters ahead of his appearance on the Andrew Marr show in London. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Estelle Shirbon

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said voters did not "give a toss about social media cut and thrust" after Twitter yesterday accused the Conservative Party of misleading the public during the first televised UK election debate.

Twitter spoke out after the Conservative campaign headquarters' press office changed the name of its account from 'CCHQPress' to 'factcheckUK' while Prime Minister Boris Johnson was debating Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday night.

With its avatar changed to a white tick against a purple background instead of the party's traditional blue branding, the account, which is followed by 76,000 users, issued tweets supporting Mr Johnson and criticising Mr Corbyn.

Quizzed about the stunt on BBC television, Mr Raab said he disagreed with Twitter's criticism that the tactic was misleading, and said voters didn't care anyway. "I knock on doors every day," he said. "No one gives a toss about the social media cut and thrust.

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"What they care about is the substance of the issues, and of course there's a huge amount of scepticism about the claims of all politicians."

Mr Raab said the aim of the Conservative campaign was to rebut what he described as "nonsense" put out by Labour. "It matters that we have an instant rebuttal," he said.

Asked why his party needed to dress up its rebuttals as independent fact-checking, he said: "Because we want to make it clear that we're holding Labour to account for the nonsense that they systematically and serially put out in relation to Conservatives."

Labour said what the Conservative press office had done was a "scam" that showed the party could not be trusted in government. Twitter issued a statement saying it would take action if anyone tried a similar stunt again.

Irish Independent

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