To Twit or not to Twit??

Guardian Leeds has this report on the rather odd decision of the Lord Mayor of Leeds to try and prohibit tweeting from council meetings.  Lord Mayor Judith Elliott told everyone at the start of the full council meeting on Wednesday to ‘switch off all electrical equipment’ and said there should be ‘no Tweeting’. As I understand it Elliott was not entirely successful in this effort however the decision is a nonsense.

The first question that has to be asked is why? As far as I can see no clear reason was given. Given the lack of clear justification it has to be assumed that in some way Elliott merely feels Tweeting some how impugns the sanctity of the meeting. This is a frankly bizarre standpoint; the meetings are open to the public as it is so why should they not be open to the public who have Twitter?

Furthermore, not everybody can attend the full council meeting but they may well be able to follow it and at least gain a flavour of it from Twitter. Also, they can partake if the opportunity arises in a little bit of dialogue with their representatives. Tweeting does not mean people are not ‘paying full attention’ to the conduct of the meeting and besides if councillors were not tweeting and were determined to be distracted then there are less productive things they could be doing.

MP’s regularly Tweet from the House of Commons; especially during Prime Ministers Questions. I feel it adds to the sense of occasion and excitement of the event and actually engages people more than would otherwise be the case. In that sense this is a bad decision from the democratic standpoint. Hopefully the Lord Mayor will think better of her decision and allow councillors to tweet at will during the next council meeting.


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About darrellgoodliffe


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