Ipswich Tories still hate twitter

Richard Pope asked about councillors who tweet during council meetings

Richard Pope asked about councillors who tweet during council meetings

Last month Ipswich Tories asked a question at Ipswich Borough Council that many said indicated an outdated view of modern social media. It appears that the criticism they received, from opponents and supporters alike, has stung them to an attempted justification.

In an article on their website, someone has written that “they have been vindicated by the uproar over the ‘twitterati’ and the way they have indiscriminately appeared to criticise an innocent man following a BBC broadcast.”

They go on to add that it is all too easy in this “technical age” to tweet something in haste that you might later regret. That is true, but it still doesn’t justify the luddite attitudes of the Tory group on the Borough Council.

You see some stupid people with twitter accounts decided that libel laws didn’t apply to them, either because they were famous, or because they were married to the Speaker of the House of Commons. They decided that *innocent face* would protect them from defamation. Ipswich Tories seem to see this as justification for a hatred of social media in all its forms. Maybe they also sit at home, refusing to watch television because some TV programmes, like BBC Newsnight and ITV’s This Morning, made some basic editorial errors. Perhaps they also eschew the reading of newspapers because the News of the World, and Piers Morgan edited The Mirror, both published news that they had acquired from sources that were not, shall we say, legal.

You see the objection people had to the Tories question at the last council meeting wasn’t that many Tories won’t deign to use social media – there are notable exceptions – but that they seemed to want to ban its use by councillors. So much for the espoused freedom of communication that the Prime Minister is insisting he is standing up for. Here in Ipswich the Tory Borough Council group feel that, by sending a tweet during a council meeting, Cllr Alasdair Ross is showing a lack of respect for Mayor Mary Blake and the other councillors. That because he is sending a tweet, somehow his concentration on the meeting is impaired. Utter rot.

They say, on their website, “We conservatives also feel it is important to give full attention to Council meetings, when we are there representing the best interests of our constituents.” Well who could argue with that. Yet the idea that all 48 councillors are sat there with rapt attention whilst listening to Cllr Pope drone on about Tory policies (oh wait, they don’t have any) is just silly. For a start, frequently they aren’t all there. If it is important to give full attention to Council meetings, surely the Tory whip wouldn’t have allowed Nadia Cenci to take a group of Stoke Park residents to Westminster with Ben Gummer MP on the same evening as a council meeting?

No doubt the same Ipswich Tories who insist that “thou shalt not tweet during council meetings” would dislike the rules in the House of Commons, where tweeting is allowed in the chamber, during debates. Certainly they must assume that Ipswich Borough Council meetings deal with issues vastly more important that the House of Commons does…

In an added twist of irony this evening, Tory blogger Kevin Algar tweeted the link to the article, referencing the Ipswich Tories twitter feed. It seems not all Ipswich Tories want to live in the past. Some are eager to grasp the 21st Century, at least when it comes to campaigning with social media.

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7 Responses

  1. In an even bigger twist of irony IS/BR didn’t get the irony of me tweeting the story until I pointed it out to him.

    • This is true. It passed me by.

  2. I was expecting the article from ICA to be of some substance. It’s tiny!

    • It is, and it is anonymous despite being in the first person. Wonder who wrote it!

  3. At least have the decency to mention that I tweet several times a day, regularly update my blog and embrace social media completely. it is a wonderful tool. However I don’t agree with using it during council. it is rude and it does distract.
    Regarding the Westminster trip. As Ben Gummer organised this, and i needed to go with them, the residents were always going to take precedence over council meeting. John Carnall agreed. The day we stop putting the residents first, is the day we definitely will be sitting in our ivory tower! That absence was a one off, tweeting all through council meetings is every month. I bet no councillors tweeted during the Remembrance Day service. They would agree with that being disrespectful so therefore there are occasions when tweeting is not appropriate. Just because my colleagues believe this, doesn’t make them against social media per se. in fact I’m proof of that. i love tweeting but wouldn’t do it during full council.
    Feel free to follow me on @stokeparkcllr – See you there!

    • You are the notable exception on social media Cllr Cenci. I agree with you about the Westminster trip. The point I was making was that if the 15 seconds it takes to write a tweet distracts councillors from their vital role listening to front bench spokesmen drone on, how is that worse than those councillors who cannot make the meeting at all?

      No MPs would have tweeted during the Remembrance Day service either. But they regularly tweet from the chamber, and are allowed to following a Commons debate that clarified the rules on using electronic devices in the chamber. Is the work done by a backbench member during a Borough Council meeting more vital than the work done by backbench MPs during debates in the House of Commons? Our own Ipswich MP has been known to tweet from the chamber, during the Budget debate if I recall correctly. Was that inappropriate too, Cllr Cenci?

      You’re free to tweet when you want. Just because you wouldn’t tweet during full council doesn’t mean others shouldn’t. The Borough Tory group are on the wrong side of the argument here and the public will not understand why they are making such a fuss about the actions of one councillor using modern communications to express his views during a council meeting.

      • The difference here is that we only have to attend the council once a month. its not much to ask to refrain for just a little while. Mayors in the past have insisted that mobiles be turned off during council. Tweeting afterwards is surely ok too. And no I do not want it banned during council. I think that decision rests with the individual. I would also like to point out that our group leader Cllr Carnall is very relaxed about our use of social media stating that it’s on our own heads if it goes wrong so you see we are not against it, even as a group, just some of us think council should be about debating and listening, then communicating back. If residents want to know what’s going on, they should attend and hear the whole debate rather than snippets taken out of context. I will repeat this in your new post!

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