The Press leaders debate was on last night. Only David Cunliffe and John Key were involved. Why the Greens were excluded is something for others to discuss. But what I want to talk about is how the Greens got their message out last night. Just before the debate started they tweeted:
Since the debate has its own hashtag, the Greens decided to use that hashtag to get their message out.
As David and John were asked questions, the Greens tweeted their answers. It is good to see the Greens using venues like Twitter to engage with those who are watching more mainstream media sources. Will it have gained them any votes? I am not sure, I suspect that the majority of people engaging with the #KeyvCunliffe hashtag were already decided voters, but it is the retweets that they generated that are where the returns will come. Getting the message in front of those who are not normally engaged in politics.
There were some issues with the Greens tweets though. Just like Eugenie, those running the Green account seem not to have grasped the difference between the Prime Ministers Office and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Even when the error has been pointed out:
They don’t attempt to correct it. For a party that tries to claim to be focused on the facts and policy debate, to be using this line of argument is puzzling. It could be that they have moved control of the account to campaign staffers who do not have such a solid grasp on the structure of Government institutions. Though that explanation has to be questioned, since one of their MPs seems to be under the same impression.
I think this approach from the Greens to use the hashtag to push their message along side a debate that they weren’t involved in is a sign of how they are dealing with an issue that no other party in New Zealand faces. National and Labour are focused on by the media and voters because they are the only parties who are in a position to hold the office of Prime Minister after the election. The parties that are polling below 6% are all battling each other to be in a position to provide a limited amount of support to the major parties. But the Greens occupy a middle position. They are not in a position to challenge Labour for either the office of Prime Minister or the office of Leader of the opposition, but at the same time, if they obtain a coalition agreement with Labour, they are going to have more sway than any of the minor parties. Yet they have no real opposing party to be in debates with. So when they are excluded from the major party leaders debates, they need to find a way to get their message out. I think the way they have approached it with this debate is a good one.