Simon Dickson has been chatting to the ‘Valiant Official’ who looks after Cabinet minister David Miliband’s blog. It confirms what I’ve already said which is that the blog is very much David’s thing and that he is writing the blog himself.
I find it extremely depressing that witty and intelligent Tory bloggers such as Iain Dale don’t applaud David Miliband’s initiative. Instead they choose to score cheap political points with inaccurate criticisms about the cost and who writes it. Despite being an active Labour Party member I have consistently praised the Conservative’s online communications, which is still far better than Labour’s. That’s because I want to encourage democratic engagement with social media.
Blogging and other other social media offer lots of potential for reinvigorating democracy, but it is still very early days. That is why those at the forefront of political and democratic blogging have a responsibility to encourage others to join in and to applaud pioneers such as David Miliband.
Simon also touches on the fact that David’s blog exists in “something of a grey area – between official and personal, Civil Service and party politics, definitive policy and nascent opinion”. I think this is something that needs to be sorted out as a matter of some urgency.
One of the benefits of social media is its transparency and directness. Currently the UK law actually prevents ministers, MPs and councillors from being as open as the could be. Using an official blog to have a political conversation is far different to using government or council resources to get ‘propaganda on the rates’.
If the public actually knew about the feelings and motivations of politicians (of any party) making decisions then they would understand them better. But because these motivations are personal and political the system prevents then being properly aired.
We need a working group to examine this issue. Some of the people I would like to see involved are Boris Johnson MP, Tom Watson MP, former Lib Dem MP Richard Allen, former Lewisham councillor Andrew Brown, Simon Dickson, Iain Dale, Paul Evans, Cllr Mary Reid, Alex Hilton, Tim Mongomerie and myself.
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