Can you believe this? The Tories have contrived to have the House of Commons Twitter account stopped from tweeting vote results – because Johnson’s party said it was biased against them.
The House of Commons Twitter account has been banned from tweeting the results of votes after Tory MPs complained it was breaking impartiality rules when one tweet went viral.
During the passage of the trade bill, intended to pave the way for post-Brexit trade deals, the Commons Twitter account shared the outcomes of votes on amendments and new clauses: a 326-263 defeat for a clause relating “to parliamentary approval of trade agreements”, and approval without division for amendments about “sharing information and ministerial functions relating to trade”.
The descriptions were taken from the explanatory statement written by the MP who proposed the motion, and the tweet about new clause 17 was no different. That clause, the tweet said, was “intended to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK”, explaining that it had been defeated 340 votes to 251.
The defeat allowed Labour to argue that Conservative MPs had voted against protecting the NHS from overseas control. The tweet itself was a key piece of evidence, which is why it gained 5,000 likes and almost 17,500 retweets in less than 24 hours.
That drew the attention of Tory MPs, who were bombarded with questions from constituents about why they had voted against such protection. The day after, MPs from the party made a complaint to the clerk of the House, the politically neutral civil servant who oversees the work of the support staff, including the social media team.
They argued that the tweet was in breach of the Commons’ requirement for impartiality. By the end of the day, the Commons team had deleted it and posted an apology.
So it was perfectly permissible for the offending words to be published in the explanatory statement by the MP who proposed the motion; the Tories just didn’t want them to get to the public.
What does that tell us about the Conservative government?
That they don’t want us to have full information about what happens in Parliament?
That they think Parliamentary media should not provide information to the public?
That they want such media to offer pro-Tory propaganda instead?
Johnson and his cronies have really taken the Josef Goebbels method to heart.
But the act has been a huge turn-off to the public – including This Writer (but you’d expect that, I’m sure):
The Tories have banned the official House of Commons Twitter account from tweeting the results of Parliamentary votes because informing the public about the disgraceful things Boris Johnson and his MPs keep voting for is biased, apparently.https://t.co/3zXIne66nA
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) October 4, 2020
Why hasn't #PoliticsLive mentioned the fact that the House of Commons twitter account has been banned from tweeting vote results because the Tories said it was biased against them? What's the point of that account if it can't provide us with the results of votes?
— Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) October 5, 2020
That was my question too: if the result is reported accurately, how can that be showing bias? What kind of country are we living in where the result of Parliamentary votes are now deemed to be 'fake news'?
— Paul Hand-Griffiths (@BunterBoy) October 5, 2020
I would have thought the answer was obvious: a would-be fascist dictatorship. But Johnson’s Tories are even failures at that.
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