I was delighted this afternoon when I saw that Paddy Ashdown had arrived Twitter, and not just because the former Lib Dem leader promises to be very entertaining over 140 characters.
Ashdown is leading the Lib Dems ground war into the next election, and it matters that he is engaging with people.
It would all too easy to dismiss this as simply a case of another politician trying to be down with the kids and get an account they barely use. However, I am led to believe that their are some fairly savvy people working with Paddy, and this seems to be part of a broader communications strategy in the build up to the next general election.
A channel from Ashdown can be overtly partisan and political. He is sadly not a minister and never has been, and so is not ‘tainted’ by the coalition. He is also exceptionally well liked, and someone whose opinion people rightly value.
By getting active online, Paddy Ashdown can’t start talking to people in a way those bound by ministerial office cannot a long way out from 2015.
By doing it now, the Lib Dems have given the presence ample time to bed in before the short campaign.