Our ongoing mission to keep the UK Parliament Twitter feed interesting continued last week when we experimented with some live twittering of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). Twitter users commenting on PMQs as it happens, and each other’s comments, and hashtagging the lot has become increasingly popular recently and our team were looking to see how we could add value in this area.

Most weeks we ‘top-and-tail‘ PMQs and then sit back on the sidelines while one of Parliament’s most recognised and popular events takes place, lots of people twitter about it and the UK Parliament twitter… doesn’t do anything.

So last week, every time an MP got up to ask a question we tweeted who they were, tried to get down what their question was on, and then linked through to their previous spoken contributions in our Commons Hansard by Member area (there is also a Lord’s equivalent). Here is an example of what we did.

The Order of Business shows you what MPs might be called to ask a question so we could do some of the work in advance, but we didn’t know what the question would be on or the exact order so that happened on the fly. We also tried to throw in some explanatory information as when the Speaker intervened to ask David Cameron to withdraw a question, and to answer comments coming in from our followers.

When it was over, we had lunch. When that was over, we asked our followers for feedback and it was pretty mixed:


Some people were really positive, others were a bit stunned by our feed’s sudden switch into rabid updates and there were a fair few that didn’t see the value of our updates when we couldn’t comment or editorialise on the action (although someone liked this neutral stand).

We enjoy doing live twittering on the feed and PMQs was no exception, but we felt the consensus from the feedback was that what we did on PMQs didn’t work. Therefore, next time we’re not going to tweet every MP as they stand up but will rather look to put up background or explanatory information during PMQs, in addition to the usual highlighting of our services like the live video feed and the available transcript after three hours.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below or through Twitter.