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What 10 Downing Street told me via Twitter

I wanted to know what whether PM Gordon Brown was going to talk about Zimbabwe with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week. So I asked the question via Twitter.

I got a reply back very swiftly. “He stands solidly behind human rights in Zimbabwe.”

OK. So I’m not getting a direct answer from the PM. And the response is hardly earth-shattering. Nevertheless, the person behind the Downing Street Twitter account is clearly close to the PM. And has the authority to respond to questions. And will clearly need to have some level of knowledge of policy to be able to respond.

And let’s not get carried away. As The Guardian points out this morning, there were only 1.383 people following the Downing Street Twitter feed yesterday. Hardly a national cross section. And imagine if hundreds of thousands of people started asking questions via Twitter. You’d need an army of people to manage responses. But perhaps as this evolves, you’ll have different Downing Street Twitter accounts based on government departments. Or areas of policy. Which might make it marginally more manageable.

So. Just a digital gimmick – or a taste of how political dialogue might be conducted in the future?

BTW – as I write this, DowningStreet at Twitter hasn’t said anything for 12 hours – so I’ve given them a “nudge” – via Twitter. We need to know what our PM is up to. Like, is he still surviving on coffee and muffins?