Since the 2005 election, Westminster has changed. The traditions, the green benches, and the antiquated language remain, but politics is now digital, fast-moving, and relentless. The new reality still includes a few certainties, as demonstrated by the Government’s recent announcement on cigarette packaging. Here are 12 things to think about when you’re following an issue:
- A big development may be slipped in under the radar… For example at 8pm, during a Wednesday evening Adjournment Debate
- News will be broken on Twitter – after all, everything happens on Twitter first now
- The opposition’s first response will be tweeted, long before they manage to put out a press statement (47 minutes, in this case)
- In the rush to report breaking news first, not every outlet will get their facts straight
- The debate will be cross-media, with comments made on the radio ending up on TV and online
- Politicians will take the argument out of the chamber… and even away from party politics (sometimes)
- Stakeholders will have their say, even if the press ignores them
- The media will get excited about whatever Nigel Farage says
- Social media makes it easier to turn armchair opposition into action
- An announcement of Government intent is rarely the end of the story, thanks to troublesome backbenchers
- In the meantime, parliamentarians will not wait patiently. Instead, they will table written or oral questions and bring it up in debates
- And while everyone waits for the Government to act, recalcitrant backbenchers will keep up the opposition.
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