Everyone likes to believe they make political decisions based on cold-headed analysis of the facts but the truth is appearance matters.
As does non-appearance.
The decision by Councillor Kevin Keenan, the leader of the Labour group on Dundee City Council, not to attend Thursday’s budget meeting due to a pre-arranged family holiday, was baffling.
Now, Mr Keenan’s presence was never going to decide whether the SNP administration’s budget was passed.
The odds on any SNP politician voting against their party on a crunch issue are so astronomical that if you put a pound on it happening, and by some miracle it did, you would no longer need to worry about Brexit because you’d have won enough to buy Europe in cold, hard cash.
But with just a couple of months until the local government elections, it sends a worrying message to voters.
Councillors Brian Gordon and Richard McCready both spoke well in favour of Labour’s amendment but if their leader can’t be bothered, what’s to stop voters from thinking the party has already thrown in the towel.
In days gone by, Mr Keenan’s absence would not have dominated proceedings in quite the way it did. Now, thanks to social media every councillor was able to have their say on his no-show during and after Thursday’s meeting.
But those that live by the Twitter sword can also die by the Twitter sword. The micro-blogging site allows people to express their opinions instantly, which is not always a good thing.
Once someone makes a post, it is in the public domain and the author has no control over its use.
One could argue the spread of social media has been like the opening of Pandora’s Box but instead of hope all that’s left inside are links to escort services and “fantastic” ways to check if you had PPI.
So when councillors choose to criticise others on social media rather than making any contributions to the actual budget debate they also should be wary about how that can appear to voters.
Social media can be a great communication tool for politicians and the general public alike.
And Twitter often seems like an echo-chamber where like-minded people back each other’s opinions, whether right or wrong.
But everyone should remember they are not just preaching to the choir, they’re broadcasting to an audience they cannot know too.