This afternoon I actually sat through a whole debate on whether MPs can use hand held devices within the chamber. What I saw was basically a few of the old guard (and Simon Hughes – really Simon? Why would you do it to me? You seem so cool and up with everything and then you go and diss twitter and say that it should be banned in the chamber. I’m hurt. Hurt I tells ye…) anyway a few of the old guard saying that if they liked they could sit and watch the cricket whilst in the house and that wouldn’t be them doing their job whilst many younger faced MPs said it gave us the electorate a better feel of what is going on within the chamber.
I must say I rarely (for rarely read never) look at the timetable for debates but if I see something interesting enough being talked about on twitter I’ll boot up iPlayer and watch BBC Parliament to catch what is going on. The world is moving forward and it is doing so at a rapid pace.
More and more people are using social networking these days not only to keep in touch with friends but to find out what is going on in the world. My twitter feed has several sections if you like but two of them are UK and US sports journalists. If something breaks it’ll be on twitter first and then I can know about it as quickly as possible.
It is the same with regards to what is going on politically. The fastest way of knowing about something is twitter so therefore it is a usual service for those interested in keeping up to date with what is going down in the Commons.
For the MP who was talking about watching the cricket – I think it was Sir Alan Hazelhurst – who said that hand held devices could be used for example to watch the cricket then yes they could but that wouldn’t be right. MPs use these devices in the main to keep the electorate and those interested up to speed with the goings on. That is providing a service to the people of this country.
Someone watching the cricket is not. It is up to an MP themselves to decide if watching the cricket is a good use of time spent within the chamber or not. All MPs have their own concious that they have to follow but to deny MPs the right to tweet and use the internet to check out facts in a debate was to be quite frank – preposterous.
But the right team won by a score of 206 to 63. MPs aren’t straitjacketed into living in a bubble whilst in the House of Commons. This is good news for all concerned. Now if only they could install wifi then it could make the MPs lives a whole lot easier and allow us – the electorate – an even bigger insight into what they are doing as it won’t kill the batteries nor will it take an age to send a tweet or to load up a website.
The internet is here to stay and sticking heads in the sand would be no good for anyone.
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