Steve Webb MP in “Facebook surgery” first

Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat MP for Northavon, held a “drop in surgery” with a difference this morning – on social networking website Facebook.

He’d advertised the time in advance, to his 3,867 Facebook friends: “Steve will be online on Facebook Chat tomorrow (Thursday) between 11 and 11.30am. Log on and chat if you want to raise anything with me.”

This morning around 200 of them – a mixture of constituents, party members and others – were online for the chat session. Steve likened the experience to “one of those plate-spinning acts that you see on variety shows on the TV”. (Fortunately, he types fast!)

Shortly afterwards, I spoke to Steve, who declared the experiment a success. I asked him why he chose Facebook’s live chat facility.

“It was instant: people asked short questions and I could immediately clarify any points. I found it very efficient as it broke down barriers. It’s helpful being where people are, in the idiom that they’re used to.”

When participants raised points which needed further follow-up, Steve asked them to send him a private Facebook message so that he could get to work on the details afterwards.

Steve took part in a live Q&A session with Lib Dem Voice back in December, using “Cover it Live.” I asked him how the two live chats differed.

“The Cover it Live Session was more intense: that had technical questions about global warming and subjects relating to my role then as climate change and energy spokesperson.

“Today’s session was more chatty and a friendly introduction. Also Cover it Live was public whereas this was a series of private conversations.

“The people I was chatting with couldn’t see each other’s questions and so I was able to deal with each person in confidence – just like my regular face-to-face constituency surgery.”

Steve said that he hasn’t heard of any other MPs conducting a Facebook surgery, but left me with this thought:

“I wonder whether today has been the start of something: Do you think one day all MPs will be doing this as part of their regular contact with constituents?”

Read more on Steve’s own blog: The Webb Log.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News and Online politics.


  • Just to let you know – this is definitely not “private” although it feels like it.

    Facebook can take this material and use it to build up part of the profile they have on you. They can use this to sell your personality to advertisers.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarManfarang 25th May - 4:16am
    James "Big question – what happens when Muslims decide to set up their own political party?" There was an Islamic Party of Britain set up...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 25th May - 3:40am
    James We do not need a post Liberalism, we need a robust Liberal Democratic agenda and stance. There is a discussion on Lloyd George, Asquith,...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 25th May - 3:19am
    David Evans People like you, is not a phrase I like, why not be more specific and less combative . That gets to my point....
  • User Avatarjames 25th May - 1:07am
    And the left are doing NOTHING about it. Where's the dialogue, where's the policy innovations, where's the intellectual bravery in saying `we were wrong`. As...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 25th May - 12:13am
    @John Littler "A lot of Labour people seem to like it." That raises an interesting point. While being anti-Tory and anti-UKIP, the poster is not...
  • User AvatarGlenn 24th May - 11:38pm
    James. The thing is most of these problems are caused by the ideas of the Right. Religion, regime change, war, economic inequality and so on....