As we’re on the subject of Council meetings, I should begin this post by declaring a personal interest in that I know both the Councillors mentioned in this story, and indeed have campaigned for both of them to be elected – though I would stress that Rene was a Liberal Democrat at the time I was campaigning for him.
I am also someone who has Twittered during Council meetings, which is probably the most relevant part to this discussion, as I really don’t see what Peter or Rene has done as being wrong. For me, using Twitter is a way to communicate during a meeting and to let people outside know what’s going on. This may come as a shock to some people, but the people of Colchester (and the people of Swansea too, unless they’ve changed dramatically since I lived there) don’t hange breathlessly on every word uttered in the Council Chamber. Tweeting little snippets about what’s happening, or my commentary on something, is a way to let people know what is going on. I’d also note that as far as I recall, I’ve only Tweeted during Full Council meetings in which the vast majority of Councillors spend 99% of their time listening to other people speak – and as an intelligent adult human being, I am capable of listening to someone and writing a text message about what they’re saying at the same time, in the same way I’m capable of writing notes on pen and paper while listening to someone.
And I know I’m not alone in this – I follow various other politicians on Twitter and they’ve posted updates from Council Chambers, Assemblies and Parliaments from all sides of the political spectrum. To claim that someone is ‘showing contempt’ for one of them by being able to multi-task is a rather ridiculous claim, unless you believe that representatives should spend all their times in meetings sitting ramrod-straight, doing nothing but staring intently at the person currently speaking, hanging on their every word.