Live tweeting for beginners, with #NESC and #CycleLanesJustice as a worked example #Manchester #digitalactivism

In under an hour’s time, one of Manchester City Council’s six scrutiny committees – Neighbourhoods and Environment – will meet. It is supposed (1) to be a toothy watchdog on what the bosses (elected and unelected) of the Council are doing. It is meeting online only because of coronavirus.  The address to watch it is here.

This post gives you the absolute basics of how to live tweet an event like this. The principles apply more broadly, and the more people there are with experience and justified confidence in their ability to live tweet events, the better off (2) we will be in Manchester.


  • Tell other folks you are going to do it.
  • Choose some good short hashtags – we are going for #CycleLanesJustice #NESC and #Manchester
  • Have twitter handles of all the people in the meeting  (politicians, officers, groups) so you can put them in tweets
Name Ward Email and Twitter
Azra Ali Burnage
Paula Appleby Moston
Shazia Butt Cheetham
John Flanagan Miles Platting and NewtonHeath ‏
Naeem Hassan Cheetham
John Hughes Gorton and Abbey Hey
Lee-Ann Igbon (CHAIR) Hulme
William Jeavons Deansgate
Richard Kirkpatrick Didsbury West
Sam Lynch Northenden ‏
Jon-Connor Lyons Piccadilly
Aftab Razaq Whalley Range
Paula Sadler Higher Blackley
Matt Strong Chorlton
Tim Whiston Sharston
Gavin White Old Moat ‏
Annettte Wright Hulme

Have images good to go as well,  to orient people (the agenda, the specific points and also to make satiric/comedic points (giffls, waffles, verbal diarrhoea

  • Have links to key articles about the issue(s) and the individuals, links to reports etc, blog posts on your site, others’ sites. 

Pedal power: protests for pop-up cycle lanes take off


Citizens install pop-up cycle lanes. Doubtless #Manchester City Council will remove them

What do pop-up cycle lanes have to do with our petition?

  • Have some cut and pasteable tweet bodies where you just have to add the text in the middle : 1420 Councillor [tag] asks “[their question”  #CycleLanesJustice #Manchester
  • Make some predictions to see if you’re any good at spotting patterns

Here’s ours

  • The Executive Member for Environment Transport and Planning will try to keep questions about pop-up cycle lanes OUT of the NESC meeting, saying that because she is holding another meeting with all councillors about this it would be inappropriate/unnecessary to talk about it now.
  • Most councillors will nod along with this, a few will say “nope”
  • Some of the questions from councillors will be longer than they need to be, and non-specific
  • Almost ALL of the replies (not answers) to their questions will be much longer than they need to be, and as vague as possible
  • There will be no apologies for past failures, no commitment to learn, and nothing specific promised for the near term.


  • Time stamp tweets so ppl can play back video
  • Try to get verbatim quotes.
  • Run stuff through a spellcheck first
  • Don’t libel anyone
  • Be funny if/when you can. Free use of sarcasm, irony, trolling etc.
  • Retweet other folks who are also live tweeting



  • Unroll as a thread? Turn into a blog post as soon as you can.
  • Debrief – what did you not have that would have made your life easier?



(1) The fact that 93 of the 96 councillors belong to one party, and that therefore backbench councillors are being asked to expose and potentially humiliate members of their own tribe is not spoken of in polite company. You COULD do things to ameliorate that, even with a first past the post system. But that would rely on you caring more about the health of democracy than the convenience of your political career.

(2) It’s 45 degrees centigrade in Siberia for crissakes. Nothing’s gonna help. Grab your ankles and prepare to kiss your arse goodbye.

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