Labour’s “Twitter tsar”

From today’s Guardian.

The Labour party has appointed a ‘Twitter tsar’ with the responsibility of encouraging MPs to use new media.

Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, has been made the party’s new media campaigns spokeswoman ahead of an election next year that she says will be the first ‘new media election’. A recent study for a newspaper voted McCarthy the most “influential MP” on Twitter – with more than 1,600 followers.

Labour’s advisers are buoyant this week because the party thinks it stole a march on the Conservative leader, David Cameron, by using Twitter to get out a defence of the NHS in the aftermath of an attack by Conservative MEP Dan Hannan on the health system.

Though all involved insist the “we love the NHS” Twitter topic grew organically and was not composed of purely Labour activists, the prime minister and his wife Sarah Brown used Twitter to get their defences in first. The “we love the NHS” trending topic was so popular that the site crashed on Wednesday night.

I’m assuming that the soubriquet ‘tsar’ is the Guardian‘s, not Labour’s. If so it’s just the latest example of a lazy, historically-illiterate habit. It first surfaced in journalism, I think, many years ago in the US media with stuff about a President (Nixon?) appointing a “Drugs Czar”. This was not, as you might pedantically have supposed, the capo di tutti capi of the illegal drugs racket, but a government official charged with running the so-called “war on drugs”, which was at least as misguided as the later “war on terror”.

Er, harrumph!

Thanks for Pete for the original link.