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Twitch's UK Parliament channel is a baffling thing

As the platform removes political emotes.

Right now, more than a thousand people are watching the UKParliament channel on Twitch, which exclusively shows what's going on in the House of Commons.

Sure, this afternoon, a lot of people have tuned in to watch the fallout from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow's resignation. But I was watching earlier and viewer numbers were still in the high hundreds.

The channel is a fairly recent addition to the platform, and initially hosted Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May and John Bercow emotes for subscribers.

These have now been removed, esports consultant Rod Breslau noted on Twitter this afternoon, on the grounds of having "no political emotes" - there's no Trump emote, for example, or one for Obama.

This decision highlights the grey area Twitch finds itself in hosting political content. As Breslau notes, political figures such as US senator Bernie Sanders already have Twitch channels. UKParliament's stream chat is turned on and comments are inherently political in nature, even if frequently incoherent in content.

Watching this afternoon, I learned more about the timing for Bercow's resignation from one commenter - while another, on hearing Bercow mention having the whip removed, remarked: "whip me Daddy."

But perhaps the channel's addition, as part of the Special Events category on Twitch, should not be surprising. There are now many non-gaming categories on the platform, and politics in the UK has rarely been more dramatic than in the past few weeks, with viewer figures higher for all traditional TV news channels. This is simply Twitch trying to get in on all the political action.

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