In October last year the Daily Mail claimed that even in spite of cuts Manchester City council had decided to hire a ‘Twitter and Facebook tsar’ for £38,000 a year. Grant Shapps – Minister of State for Housing & Local Government – believed this news story and earlier Tweeted his lack of sympathy for Manchester City council:
Extraordinary! Manchester threatens to sack 2k staff while employing a Twitter Tzar & a Chief Exec who earns £90k more than the PM.
This Tweet was then read out on the Radio 4 PM programme, as essentially being the government response to the complaints of Manchester City council. The trouble is, like most Steve Doughty articles, the story was complete rubbish. The article even admitted that ‘the new media communications manager will also have responsibility for all the council’s internet-based communications’. So, the council employed one person to manage all of the council’s websites, not just to manage Facebook and Twitter.
It is embarrassing that government ministers insult the public by doing so little research into their public proclamations.
Radio 4 corrected the mistake during the same programme saying:
The council have been onto us to tell us that they’ve have never employed such a person, though they do have a website manager which the Daily Mail referred to as a ‘Twitter tsar’ last October. We’ve checked with Grant Shapps’ department and they said the newspaper report is what he based his comments on. So that’s all clear.
Grant Shapps has not managed an apology, nor has he retracted his comments. He really needs to do this as soon as possible, and in future he really needs to not use the Daily Mail as a source. It appears he is happy to defend local government cuts with lies from the Daily Mail.