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Labour MP Kerry McCarthy appointed as Twitter tsar

LONDON - The Labour party has named Kerry McCarthy, who was recently named the most influential MP on Twitter, as its official new media campaigns spokesperson.

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McCarthy, the MP for Bristol East, was appointed by Douglas Alexander, the General Election coordinator.

She will be tasked with co-ordinating Labour's online presence and helping Labour MPs, perspective parliamentary candidates and supporters share best practice online.

McCarthy said: "There's an ever-growing interest in the new media area and so the Party thought that there should be a politician involved in both the coordination and in being the public face of the great work the Labour Party is doing in this area.

"This is something I care passionately about and want to play a part in making sure we keep making progress here."

McCarthy was last month named Twitter's most influential MP in a study conducted by The Independent. She currently has almost 2,000 followers on the social networking site.

Her appointment comes after last week's "#we love the NHS" campaign on Twitter, which was used by many Labour MPs, including the prime minister Gordon Brown, to mount a defence against the health care system after it was attacked by the US.

In an interview with LabourList, McCarthy said that that new media campaigning was not that different to traditional campaigning, only the setting was different.

She said that digital campaigning could help make traditional campaigning methods even more effective.

McCarthy said: "Most of the traditional ways of communicating with constituents are quite formal, and the flow of communication is in one direction only.

"The blog and twitter are good ways of trying to communicate with a wider audience, who might not otherwise engage with their MP, and also to try to get across a bit better what my views are on things, and what I am like as a person.

"Twitter is good because you don't have to construct lengthy posts about a topic, you just have to say 'busy doing this' or 'really happy about that', and it gets a dialogue going."

The Labour Party has its own Twitter account, as do other Labour MPs such as Gordon Brown, Tom Watson and former MP Tony Benn.

Labour MP Derek Wyatt used Twitter to announce last month that he will stand down at the next general election for personal reasons.

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