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Cabinet reshuffle causes Twitter kerfuffle

Woman in panic at laptop

Cabinet reshuffle causes Twitter kerfuffle

Yesterday saw #CabinetReshuffle trending on Twitter as Prime Minister Theresa May appointed some new names to key governmental positions, but it was a bad day at the office for the Conservative Party’s social media gurus.

A gaffe-strewn day of tweeting caused some perplexity among journalists and other observers over who was to be appointed to what position, and led opposition party representatives to mock the mix-ups.

The social media madness began with a tweet going out to announce Chris Grayling as the party’s new Chairman, but confusion reigned as this banner was quickly removed by the account. It was screenshotted by some quick-thinking Twitter users though, including The Spectator correspondent Katy Balls.


An ITV News reporter noted that it was also retweeted by a couple of Tory MPs.

Eventually, it was revealed that the real Chairman was to be Brandon Lewis, something that BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg was already onto as he had been rumoured to have been seen entering 10 Downing Street.

As a result of this chaos, Grayling’s Wikipedia page received no fewer than 38 updates yesterday, some of which were well-intentioned people quick to add the misinformation to the page, and others were people just having a giggle at the whole affair in what Wikipedians refer to as ‘vandalism’. The level of misuse was such that the page was eventually given temporary protected status, meaning only administrators are allowed to edit it.

A number of rival MPs picked up on the slip-up and questioned how it reflected on the party in control of the country that they could make such a hash of announcing a reshuffle. Ellesmere Port & Neston Labour MP Justin Madders was among those to have a chuckle at the Tories’ expense.

Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin even joked that it resembled the blooper at last year’s Oscars, where La La Land was accidentally announced as winner of Best Picture instead of Moonlight.


According to the Birmingham Mail, even when the Chairman was correctly revealed to be Lewis, it was then the turn of the UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) account to make a pig’s ear of the announcement, because the initial tweet included a misspelling of the word ‘Portfolio’ (‘Porfolio’).

Today, the Conservative Party will announce a reshuffle of some of its junior ministerial positions. Let’s hope it’s a smoother day for the folks running the Twitter accounts, or a social media team reshuffle might be in order!

John Murray
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