Has UK Election 2010 just experienced its first real "Twitter moment"? Well, colleagues on both sides of the pond have noticed that #nickcleggsfault is a trending topic on Twitter.
This is a response to today's all out assault by Conservatives on the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg through the many Tory controlled newspapers in the UK.
The Mail ran a spurious story about Clegg making a supposed Nazi slur against Britain. The Express reckoned he wanted the UK to be overrun by immigrants. The Telegraph accused him of, well, properly declaring donations made to him to employ a member of his staff.
However, it looks like the attack might be backfiring.
According to SurplusGamer, "Nick Clegg cheated in the last TV debate by unfairly using 'facts' and 'better arguments.' #nickcleggsfault." This has 100+ recent retweets.
According to urbancyclist, "Nick Clegg was seen two weeks ago poking Eyjafjallajokull with a stick #nickcleggsfault." This also has 100+ recent retweets.
And according to EvanHD, "Extraordinary. Twitter parodies undercut media attacks on Clegg (#nickcleggsfault). Telegraph ends up defending itself." This has 80+ recent retweets.
Even leading Tories thought the attack on Clegg might backfire -- even before the Twitter trend emerged. Check out Iain Dale's Diary: These Shameful Attacks on Clegg Will Backfire.
It's not hard -- even from this side of the pond -- to figure out why the Conservatives are attacking Clegg. Since last week's first British televised leaders' debate, the Liberal Democrats have jumped from 19.50 percent to 30.38 percent in the guardian.co.uk's General Election 2010: poll of polls. At the same time, the Conservatives have dropped from 38.00 percent to 32.50 percent, and Labour has dropped from 31.17 percent to 26.88 percent.
Get it? Got it? Good.
But social media gives all three parties new ways to attack and counterattack. So, the traditional Tory advantage in support from newspapers can be offset -- to a degree -- with Twitter.
Will it be enough? The race isn't over until the last tweet.