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Mediawatch: Twitter kicks off the new political season

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For the press the beginning of September traditionally heralds the end of the so called “silly season” and the return to normal business as politicians (and the rest of us) return from foreign shores. This year its been a bit different, with instead the world coming to Britain, with the Olympics and Paraolympics gripping  attention. But just as the occasional morning dew reminds us that colder weather is on its way, so we have had our first reminders that more politics are ahead.

That old perennial, the pay of chief executives (and their pay off) has had another outing, with the usual newspaper suspects lining up to feature the stories. Next up was planning. Hats off to the LGA Press Office, who got the retaliation in first.  Pressing the point that we have 400,000 house approvals waiting to be built has help reframe the story right from the start

But the story that really announced the kick off of the new political season was of course the reshuffle. Traditionally this is a subject which gave TV centre stage. Showing who came in  who came out of the No 10 front door was how we found out who was up and who was down.

But this year its been announcement by twitter. Two cabinet ministers (Cheryl Gillan and Sayeeda Warsi announced their departure by tweets. Sayeeda , rather stylishly concluded with “signing off @ToryChairman, signing on @SayeedaWarsi” Not to be outdone Grant Shapps tweeted his appointment as her replacement . By this point no 10 decided to get in on the act and from then on announcement by tweet came the norm. Though a proponent of twitter I confess I was still a bit taken back to see #reshuffle on all the prime minister tweets. By the end of the day collectively we had 65,000 uses of that particular hashtag. We normally think of twitter as shorthand, and look elsewhere for detail. But whilst the press gave endless coverage to Ken Clarke’s movements it was the no 10 tweet that contained one rather key fact,  Ken now attends cabinet (which is slightly different to being in it)- so who spotted that?

Joe Simpson is principal strategic adviser, LGA

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