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‘Best of the Web’

[First published in the News Letter on Friday April 02.]

Shortly after I wrote up last week’s column the DUP officially launched their campaign. It might be useful this week then to have a look at how they’re making use of the web in the early phases.

First of all, check out the enormous DUP slogan: ‘Let’s Keep Northern Ireland Moving Forward’. It’s rare that slogans form complete sentences (or need a tiny-url), but then again the slogan supplies an objective that’s direct, simple, positive and easy to buy into. And the candidates are underpinning it with little bits of activity online. On @jim2win, Mr Shannon twittered: ‘We’ve all been through elections where the focus is on event of the past. This election is about Ulster’s future.’ All very positive.

Already the DUP’s online campaign is taking shape and starting to soak up bandwidth. Massive amounts of material have now been published on facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr, on blogs and on candidate websites.

Lots of it is finding a decent audience. The 372 videos on the youtube ‘dupchannel’ have notched up 50,000 odd views. Very impressive. In addition, the DUP have produced a downloadable graphic commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the UDR. A very nice touch – it can be downloaded to blogs and websites from this link. And the tweets from @duponline continue to be frequent and dealing in information rather than soundbites.

But alas, it’s not all good. For starters when you click the Election 2010 button on the DUP homepage, it’s not immediately clear who the candidates are or where to catch up with them. Yes I’m sure that will come, but the campaign is launched… so let’s see candidates front and centre!

Nevertheless, people like Willie McCrea, Sammy Wilson, Jim Shannon and William Irwin have bulked up their online profile. Over at Willie McCrea’s facebook page there’s plenty of high praise for ‘Oor Willie’. Take John Smith, who writes: ‘Oor Willie has worked tirelessly for the people I see him on T.V. in Westminster and then the next day I see him on the streets in Antrim. Willie is the greatest.

It’s official: Willie is the greatest.

And things are looking good over at Sammy Wilson’s twitterfeed (@sammy2win). The Finance Minister refers to himself in the third person and claims that the TUV are already running scared. Sammy was looking forward to a debate at the UUJ with Jim Allister and Jim Nicholson arranged for April -but Mr Allister has walked away…’ Well, he can always walk back again. Go on Jim, what do you say?

Another Jim (Shannon) has built up a pretty thriving facebook page. And from this we can draw our first straw poll for Strangford. Elections are essentially popularity contests, so who’s got the most friends on facebook? Well, Jim’s got some catching up to do – at time of writing, he’s got a mere 235 friends to Mike Nesbitt’s masterly 626. But whoever has the most friends on May 6 is the only poll that counts, right?

Ian Paisley Jnr’s got an interesting website. Sure it’s in dire need of updating and essential information, but it’s worth visiting if only for the easy-listening synth muzak. All this positivity and muzak, the DUP really do sound very different to yesteryear.

And finally, one thing is certain: @ianmccreamla is definitely up for the battle ahead. Over on twitter, Ian is following the Ultimate Fight Championship, action man Arnold Schwarzenegger, brawler Randy Couture and pugilist Wayne McCullough. Clearly, Gordon Brown isn’t the only politician out there with a great big clunking fist. Eye of the Tiger Ian!

Next week, I’ll take a look at some of the UUP candidates.

PS. The TUV say Sammy’s twitterfeed is nonsense and no one’s running anywhere! I hear David Vance will be in attendance at UUJ to put the TUV case. Also, it seems that John McCallister will be the Ulster Unionist present, not Jim Nicholson. Does that mean Jimmy Nich is “running away” too, asks the TUV.

I’d love to hear feedback from that debate when it occurs. Please email me at the blog address…

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