ZOOM: When Jackie Weaver and Handforth Parish Council went internet famous

In the middle of a pandemic normally I’m blogging on pandemic comms this week a change.

Step forward Handforth Parish Council and their Zoom recording of a fractious council meeting which saw swearing, passive aggression and the birth of a new local government hero Jackie Weaver.

Jackie chaired the meeting armed with the rule book and dispensed righteous Zoom justice by banning people. It has led to a welcome explosion of memes, video and other content.

Jaw-dropping.

So, this week this is what I’m blogging about because we all need some welcome distraction.

Original source

Now, I’m not going into what feels like a Byzantine backstory of village politics. All you need to know is people aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

The short highlights clip is here…

And chaos is indeed the word.

It is glorious. If you’ve ever spent time in council meetings you’ll recognise the characters. If this was the Wild West there would be a clear-the-air gunfight and Boot Hill’s undertaker would be sizing up some pinewood overcoats.

It’s not. It’s Cheshire.

So, what we have is uncontained passive aggression bubbling up into a shouted debate on the parish council’s standing orders.

What’s been fascinating is the response from public sector Twitter and beyond. The clip was cited on BBC Radio 1, BBC Breakfast News and a whole range of news outlets.

And…

And Radio One…

And local media…

If the patriarchy felt threatened…

Then to others Jackie Weaver was a feminist hero…

Or as daytime TV soap opera…

Or as cinema trailer…

Or musical…

Or indie band…

And the memes…

Oh, the memes…

I had to remix a dubstep version…

Or sea shanty…

The local news angle…

Of course, public sector Twitter was entranced…

The full 18-minute version is well worth it…

Crucially, some of the finest legal brains put their mind to working out an answer to the question: ‘did Jackie have the authority?’ Spoiler: It turns out on balance, yes she did.

A new sub-genre was born…

But this saga, as with all in local government has a built-in sequel.

For the full story check this piece from The Guardian. It’s a story of a two-hour meeting that was spotted by a local government nerd and then trimmed to 18-minutes and then re-trimmed to less than two minutes.

Of course, the communications person in me has some reflections, too. What are the lessons of this? That all mics are live. That videos can be recorded and shared. That the internet is powerful.

Clearly, elected members need some social media training and *cough* I do a really good session based on 10 years of experience. But fundamentally, comms people advise and if the elected member doesn’t pay heed… that’s democracy.

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1 Comment

  1. Certainly made me laugh out loud and cringe in equal measure – as you say this is democracy but unfortunately many people will be turned off from democracy because of it.

    Jackie Weaver was a guest on R4 Woman’s hour today

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