George Galloway. Photo: Getty
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George Galloway argues with Bradford pub that asked him if he was "still a thing" on Twitter

Bradford West candidate George Galloway suggested he would have Bradford Brewery investigated after its Twitter account asked him if he was "still a thing"

George Galloway reacted angrily today after the Twitter account of a Bradford brewery and venue asked him if he was "still a thing".

The notoriously good-tempered Respect politician, who recently threatened to sue Guardian writer Hadley Freeman for comments she made on Twitter, responded"what does that mean? And should you as a licensed premises in my constituency really be writing that?" He added that the tweet was "most unwise" and that "you'll be hearing from me after the election". 

At this point, @BradfordBrewery noted that as parliament is now dissolved, Galloway is now a candidate and Bradford wasn't "his" constituency. The account invited him in for a coffee, but Galloway replied: "no. Your premises are a constant source of complaints to me. I will be in touch about those in due course".

The conversation did not get better from there.

Eventually, Galloway blocked the Brewery - much to their delight, as the manager explained to Buzzfeed that being "#blockedbyGalloway" is seen by some people in Bradford as a badge of honour. “In Bradford there’s a running joke of the hashtag #blockedbygalloway," said Matt Halliday. "If he loses an argument on Twitter he blocks you, so half of Bradford has been blocked by him. People have been coming in to the pub and saying ‘if you’re not blocked by Galloway, you’re not in the inner circle’. We’re now in the inner circle!”

Halliday added that it was unlikely the brewery was a "constant source" of complaints to Galloway, as it had only been open six weeks. Still, Louise Mensch was there to pour oil on to troubled waters.

 

 

I'm a mole, innit.

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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