Michael Gove attacks social media. Gets called out on social media
Former Number 10 spin chief suggests leading Brexiteer guilty of double standards
Michael Gove went on the offensive against social media today accusing sites like Twitter and Facebook of 'corrupting and distorting' political reporting.
The environment secretary was forced to defend the government after an online storm about animal rights. MPs were accused of voting down an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill recognising animals are sentient - that they can feel emotions and pain. However the government claims the clause added to the bill by Green MP Caroline Lucas was unnecessary because animal rights are already protected in UK law. That didn't stop a slew of celebrities criticising the vote on social media and online news sites generating clicks off the back of the row.
Gove told the Today programme on Radio 4: "On social media there was a suggestion that somehow the MPs had voted against the principle that animals are sentient beings, that did not happen, that is absolutely wrong."
Ruing what he called the "unhappy tendency" of some people to trust sites like Twitter more than the BBC. He added: "We've also got to stand up against the way in which social media corrupts and distorts both reporting and decision making. It's important that all of us do that."
However a former foe from the EU referendum campaign then popped up on social media to suggest that Gove knew a thing or two about distortion by pointing to some of the more eye-catching but controversial claims made by the Leave campaign that Gove led.
Craig Oliver, Downing Street's chief spin doctor under the David Cameron regime, tweeted: "Interesting to hear Michael Gove complaining about the distortions of social media. £350m? Turkey? EU army?"
The Leave campaign's claim that the UK sent £350 million to the EU every week that would be better spent on the NHS has been bitterly contested and the suggestion that Turkey was on the verge of joining the EU ignored the fact it's application could be vetoed, by the UK if it wanted to.
Craig Oliver, nicknamed Dr Dre in Westminster because he was famously pictured arriving in Downing Street wearing the American rappers brand of headphones, lost his comms job at Number 10 when David Cameron stepped down. That was the same time that Gove was banished to the backbenches by incoming PM Theresa May. Gove first took up Twitter then but he's continued to tweet since returning to the Cabinet table as environment secretary.