Diary: Telegraph tweet ultimatum puts its journalists in a flap


Tom Peck
Tuesday 19 March 2013 01:00 GMT
Eric Joyce was allegedly seen by various witnesses 'wrestling with police'
Eric Joyce was allegedly seen by various witnesses 'wrestling with police' (Getty Images)

“Too many twits might make a twat,” our Prime Minister once said of the Twitter website. His words evidently went unheeded by his friends at The Daily Telegraph, whose reporters have had Twitter unceremoniously thrust upon them.

For a great many of the paper's readers, a tweet is nothing more than the noise a songthrush makes as the morning mist lifts and a paperboy cycles up the lane with the day's newsprint. But now Telegraph journalists are being required to tweet, in a chorus stretching from dawn to dusk to dawn again.

An email from the group executive director Richard Ellis, outlining the paper's plans to focus on digital media, was sent to the group's 500-plus journalists on Friday evening, demanding: “All reporters must be on Twitter.”

Sources say journalists have also been treated to a presentation by the paper's Social Media and Engagement Editor, with reporters now required to tweet an average of once an hour. However, they got off lightly compared to editors, who must update their Twitter feed every 15 minutes. We can expect to hear a lot more about what's on offer at the staff canteen in Buckingham Palace Road, then.

MPs splutter over their proposed boozing ban

MPs have reacted with mild terror to suggestions that their subsidised drinking dens could be closed, or at least see their hours watered down, following a second lively incident featuring Eric Joyce, who resigned from the Labour Party last year.

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, has said there is no reason to cut back on booze in the Commons, and that the Strangers Bar, where Mr Joyce famously headbutted the Tory MP for Pudsey, Stuart Andrew, last February, has an important role to play in allowing MPs to entertain visitors from their constituencies.

Another Birmingham Labour MP, Steve McCabe, who represents the citizens of Selly Oak, claimed: “I have seen people get drunk, but that was in the old days! MPs today drink less than they ever did.”

A total of £1.33m was spent in the House of Commons bars in the year to March 2011, records show. There are nine bars on the premises, although some of these are tea rooms which also serve alcohol. Subsidies for food and drink on the parliamentary estate amount to a highly controversial £5m a year.

Mr Hemming said: “Just because Eric Joyce can't hold his beer doesn't mean there is a wider problem.”

Mr McCabe, who has been an MP since 1997, said: “While there might have been a hard-drinking culture in the past, that has gone. I don't think this inexcusable incident is a reason for closing the bars.”

The latest drama occurred last week at a karaoke night in the Sports and Social Bar, which is favoured by Labour members. Mr Joyce, a former soldier, was allegedly seen by various witnesses “wrestling with police”. The officers had been dispatched to an incident that began when Mr Joyce sought to take a glass to an outdoor smoking area. The matter culminated in his arrest just a few days after a 12-month suspended sentence for his previous offence had expired. Mr Joyce has insisted he was not drunk at the time.

Our spandex man down in Stanley

When he is not representing the interests of Her Majesty's Government in the wind-blown Falklands, while dressed in a Foreign and Commonwealth Office regulation-issue, pinstripe three-piece suit – it turns out that the islands' Governor, Nigel Haywood, is not averse to donning a bit of Lycra in his spare time. At the weekend, the Oxford and Sandhurst-educated diplomat completed Port Stanley's annual marathon – billed as the most southerly 26-mile and 385-yard race on the planet. Not that he left the day job behind completely – he crossed the line with the Union flag draped over his shoulders.

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