Alok Sharma yesterday became the first housing minister in 22 years not to attend the influential Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference.
Instead, he used Twitter chiefly to show he had appeared at a local bee-keepers’ event three days earlier.
Sharma had been due to speak yesterday but according to Inside Housing magazine – organisers of the event which draws thousands of local authority and social housing teams from across the country – he dropped out at the last minute.
Instead, he sent along local government minister Marcus Jones in his place.
Inside Housing reports that Jones’ speech lasted less than ten minutes, and that he vanished from the podium before the “polite applause” even finished. He declined to take any questions.
Much of the conference, held in Manchester, has understandably centred on the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
One poster on Twitter accused Jones of ‘running away’ from the conference without taking questions, and went on to ask if, given that all 120 cladding systems have so far failed testing, he accepted that Building Regulations were unfit for purpose.
Sharma himself took to Twitter, expressing apology for his non-attendance. He said that while he was organising “meets with the sector”, his priorities “right now” are with Grenfell residents and that he had met more residents.
However, taking pride of place at the top of his Twitter account was a picture of himself at the Reading Beekeepers Association on Sunday.
Our screengrab shows how Sharma’s Twitter account looked last night.