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Miliband's blog is bad news for New Labour's online comms

Even if Miliband's blog doesn't cost £1 a word, the fiasco over his blog gives plenty for New Labour's communications team to be concerned about.

Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised to hear that David Milliband's blog being accused of being a bit of a social media sham.

Someone told me a while back it was common knowledge in Westminster that David Milliband didn't really blog himself. I must say his team has done a good job of doing an impression of a person blogging if that's true - it's partly fooled me.

According to accusations from Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne - reported in the Independent's Pandora column - the likely cost of the blog is £40,000 a year, including a great deal of support from civil servants. Support? For what?

Ellee Seymour is righteously angry about it - she is a Conservative supporter, and you'd expect her to be.

However, according to a report in the Journal today, Miliband denies this estimate:

"We are trying to bed down the ongoing administration costs as we speak but we know that they are going to be less than 10% of an existing junior civil servant's time. It's nothing like £40,000. This speculation is pure silliness and completely unrealistic."

Mr Huhne said he came to the figure after tabling Parliamentary questions on the manpower involved in maintaining the site. He was told two members of staff employed by Defra had recently dedicated as much as 40% of their office time working on it.

Whoever's right, however much it cost, what rings hollow for me is that the man isn't discussing these allegations on his blog. What kind of a blogger puts out a press statement and doesn't defend themselves online? And what kind of blogger needs a team to back him up for his blog?  And now I think of it, I cut it from my RSS feed list a while back because it was too boring.

None of this bodes well for Labour's communications in the online age - Miliband was their great ministerial blogging hope. I'll stand by the "generals fighting the last war" metaphor for the time being.

Maybe innovation and risk-taking in communications is something that only happens to parties that are out of power.

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» Miliband's blog: too expensive or too boring? from eDemocracy Update
Antony Mayfield posts today about parliamentary questions from the Lib Dem, Chris Huhne. Chris has apparently established that David Miliband's blog costs a whopping £40,000 to maintain. More interestingly, he has blown David's cover as the first genui... [Read More]


I could be wrong here, but maintaining the site doesn't have to imply that they're actually writing the content.

It could include, monitoring and approving comments, stopping spam, monitoring the blogoshpere for mentions (he did reply to Neville Hobson and Philip Young on their blogs) etc etc.

To be honest, I find Ellee Seymour's blog totally biased and it reads like a tabloid ("shock", "scandal", etc). And again, I could be wrong, but don't you have to question PR ethics when her clients are members of the Tory party?

Just asking?

Fair comment.

To be fair, though, of course Ellee will have a Conervative bias, but she's very clear about what her political agenda is.

Boris Johnson manages to maintain his site for free and is very open about who does this for him. David Miliband has not been open about it. Shouldn't his staff be focusing instead on the very important environmental issues that are on his agenda? His blog is taking them away from their other work for a considerable length of time, 40% of the week for 2 people, we are told.

Can you imagine what fuss would be made if a Conservative Minister allowed public money to be spent this way?

I'm not sure the argument that he shouldn't have civil servants working on it stands up, Ellee. If it's effective communications from Government we're after, surely Mr Miliband can get a bit of help with setting it up?

It's far from perfect, but at least he's having a go. Maybe the first lesson he's learned is "you don't need four days of civil servant a week to help set up a blog".

Still think new Labour to get their head around social media sharpish. But if they aren't trying things out like this how will they ever?

"but she's very clear about what her political agenda is."

And Tom Murphy is clear about who he works for but I would start to question the same thing if he started blogging about how terrible Google is.

"Boris Johnson manages to maintain his site for free and is very open about who does this for him. David Miliband has not been open about it."

Open about what? Who moderates his comments? Who checks his Technorati referrals? Do you have to be 'open' about all administrative duties when there's no need to be?

"His blog is taking them away from their other work for a considerable length of time, 40% of the week for 2 people, we are told."

First off, where's the evidence that it takes two people 40% of the week? Miliband says it's around 10% so go figure?

Would you rather Miliband dealt with spam and comment moderation instead of his normal duties? Makes sense to give these duties to someone else.

Or, of course, he could stop blogging altogether and get criticised even more.

My thoughts are innocent until proven guilty and I have no favour for Labour nor the Tories.

Bit of a Lib Dem, eh, Stephen? ;-)

I think the 40% figure came from an answer Chris Huhne was given to a parliamentary question.

Hah! No I actually come from a Labour supporting area. Tony Blair is my constituate MP, but have no trust in either (Labour or Conservative).

Love watching Prime Minister's question time on TV though. It's hilarious! :-)

Antony, Thanks for highlighting this. Maybe your readers will be interested in catching up on the latest at Iain Dale's site.

See what I mean?

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