If you are one of the 718 followers of @cllrstevereed and his tweets regarding his public engagement, you now need to send a request to the good Councillor, and be vetted. Or maybe not, as I found out after sending my request, only to find that the Leader of my local council has actually blocked me from following his online insight into public life.
The block functionality on twitter is something which I frown upon. The medium is all about sharing, co-operation (steady) and knowledge. I would understand if this was a personal twitter account, detailing the private life of @cllrstevereed. But public engagements?
As @thomtownsend tweeted, it is somewhat misleading for the Leader of a local authority to keep the very public cllr prefix of his twitter username, yet still hide behind a private online cloak of protection.
Although I have been critical of the right wing direction in which @cllrstevereed has taken the Labour party in Lambeth, I do find his tweets informative. It was decent to see how an elected official fills his time, not to mention going some way to justifying his highly paid cabinet position.
The timing of the move is slightly odd as well. In the week that Lambeth Life has printed a list of all the local councillors, including their twitter names, it now seems that any *shhh* citizens of the borough who want to follow the online activities of the council leader have to be vetted by the very same man they voted in.
Of course you can place far too much emphasis on the importance of twitter and its role in delivering online democracy. If we don’t like the policies of @cllrstevereed and colleagues, then we do it the old fashioned way by booting them out at the ballot box.
But it is one thing for @LambethLabour to make capital out of the genuinely appreciated online access that we have to our politicians, and then something totally different when the door is slammed in our face, and only a privileged few are granted access.
The shared online dialogue during Full Council and cabinet meetings has been something which other users seem to have appreciated. With public speaking rights incredibly limited at these events, being able to see what @cllrstevereed has been tweeting, and then offering my response and shared conversation, is something that seems to have worked rather well.
Now that I have been blocked, I am left with the absurd situation of sitting five metres away from the man at cabinet, seeing that he is tweeting, but not being able to see what the message is, and therefore being unable to join in the dialogue.
So yeah – “fairness, accountability and responsibility?” I’m afraid not, my friend. I’m afraid not.