Leyne: Liberal's Twitter foray a bit dull

The career backroom boy emerged blinking from the shadows and bashfully took social media centre stage Wednesday afternoon.

Former principal secretary and chief of staff to the premier, longtime strategist and now B.C. Liberal campaign director Mike McDonald held court on Twitter to answer questions.

Which makes you wonder: What are the Liberals up to with this gambit?

The unwritten political rule used to be: Politicians to the front, everybody else to the back.

There was a time when people used to joke about backroom people being fined every time their names appeared in public. Now they're starring in their very own Twitterfests.

If McDonald ever sat down and tweeted what he really knows, it would make for a compelling read. In fact, you could put them all together in what we used to call "books."

He's been immersed in the B.C. Liberal party since the fabled breakthrough election of 1991, when they came out of nowhere to snatch 17 seats. Let's just say he's seen some stuff over the years. None of which he's divulged to my satisfaction.

And he picked all of it up backstage and around the edges, never by stepping into the spotlight.

Sad to say, Wednesday's debut as a trendy tweeter was a bit light on the juicy details of what's really going on inside the B.C. Liberal party these days.

And a bit heavy on the "rally the troops of the digital brigade to fight for freedom" sort of thing.

Nonetheless, McDonald did show a certain amount of flair, at least in his bio.

He's a "ferry goin', cat herdin', free enterprise protectin', tea drinkin', weight losin', phone talkin', Japandroids listenin' campaign director for Christy Clark."

Beyond that, the pickings were slim. He noted early on that "liquefied natural gas is a key part of CC's vision. NDP talk a good game but are all over map on Site C, fracking - "

That's fine, but nobody is going to win an election just by supporting LNG. The opposition supports it too, so there's no edge. Plus, it's boring.

B.C. Liberals will need something a lot more grabby than that.

He warmed up a little with the age-old complaint about "lots of good stories that are unreported. Our job: break thru the wall of criticism and tell our side."

Then he started hitting his twitter stride: "Big tent. Open convention in Oct. Ideas Lab. Summer tour connecting in communities. More that unites than divides."

The "big tent" concept refers to the idea that the liberal Liberals and the conservative Liberals are equally happy watching Premier Christy Clark bounce back and forth between the camps. The "Ideas Lab" is a genuinely good idea to take notions from all corners and turn them into party policy.

To a question about poll findings showing the party is in the tank, he cautioned: "Poll numbers vary from one to other. It's waaaay too early."

The numbers do vary, but the variation lately is between very bad and catastrophically bad, as far as Libs are concerned. Clark was captivated after the Alberta provincial election showed the opinion polls there were dead wrong, or at least overtaken by late developments.

It's something to cling to, but not much else.

All in all, it was an engaging little break, constrained by the fact you can't pack much content into 140 characters.

The one question that didn't get answered was this: "Liberal caucus is very strong, but seems party is focusing on leader, who is not very popular. Comment?"

lleyne@timescolonist.com

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