The media and oral questions

Contemporary mediated democracies may have enlightenment trappings, but in the Twenty-first century Question Time is essentially a media event. Especially if you’re, say, helping to turn it into a collective viewing experience on the #qt stream, there’s not much point complaining about that. (source) It was a shocking experience – the first nice prime minister’s questions I can recall. This was a huge disappointment for everyone in the public, press and peers’ gallery and for MPs themselves. (source) But the painful truth is that, while the theatrics of Question Period in the past may have debased the House of Commons, they enlivened it as well, generating heat if not often much light. This week QP mostly generated a refreshing afternoon […]

Coalition Works!

Media speculation in the UK over the health of the coalition began quite literally the day the agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was announced and hasn’t ever gone away. Indeed, as the referendum campaign on AV heated up and very public spats occurred between Conservative and Lib Dem ministers, many papers and columnists speculated that the coalition was on shaky ground (again). Following the release last week of an interim report looking at how the coalition was functioning,  some media chose to highlight whatever was negative in the report. The Guardian trumpeted that the “Deputy PM’s office ineffective, report on coalition government finds“, Public Finance bemoaned “What happened to collective responsibility?”, while the Telegraph reported rather dismissively “How […]

Nicked – the musical (revisited)

Back in February, I wrote about a musical being produced in the UK based on the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition. Entitled Nicked, it was staged in Suffolk on 30 April, as part of the HighTide Festival. You can read a review of it here. And even better, you can see a performance of one of the numbers from the show on YouTube. The song is called Tinderbox and features Labour leader Ed Miliband trying to drive a wedge between Nick Clegg and David Cameron. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would love to see the entire show. Related Posts:The length of two swordsCoalition Works!On referendumsStrange bedfellowsTempest in a teapot

Do looks matter, Part 2

In an earlier post, I discussed a study conducted by Swedish and Finnish economists which  found that political candidates on the right-wing side of the spectrum were considered more physically attractive, and people were more likely to vote for them at the ballot box. Today, I read about a new website which allows people to rank British MPs based on their perceived attractiveness. The  creator of the site, Francis Boulle, says the raison d’être of www.sexymp.co.uk is: In addition to my wanting to create a fun and memorable tool to help the British public get to know their Members of Parliament, I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to hold the first ever parliamentary beauty contest and find out […]

Privilege, the press, the law and the Internet

A recent Guardian editorial on the matter of balancing parliamentary privilege and responsible behaviour concluded thusly: When parliament last examined the question of privilege, the internet was still in its infancy. Social media were embryonic. And the ink on the Human Rights Act was barely dry. The possibility that parliamentary privilege might intersect with the online world and the role of the press in all its complexity was not even imagined. At the very least, a new select committee examination is now required. And so, inescapably, are some clearer new responsibilities to go with MPs’ ancient rights. This was in response to the recent naming in Parliament of a prominent footballer by MP John Hemmings in defiance of a super-injunction […]

On super- and hyper-injunctions

The other day on Twitter, a user posted half a dozen tweets in quick succession, each naming  a celebrity and implying that each of these celebrities was the subject of a super-injunction. This has caused nothing short of a legal crisis in the UK as this single user “has brought the culture of the super-injunction to its knees by drawing nearly 55,000 followers to a list of celebrities alleged to have links with the secretive gagging orders.” Canadian readers will be wondering what is a super-injunction. As the quote above states, it’s a highly secretive gagging order issued by the Courts, one step above an injunction, but not as secretive as a hyper-injunction. An injunction, as you may know, is […]