OfficeIain Dale has been complaining about how much government blogs cost to run – see his breakdown of the costs of David Miliband’s blog [link to the blog], and complaint about the DWP Welfare Reform and Child Poverty blog [link to the blog].

The costs of both blogs are in largest part due to the staff costs to keep the sites running, but there is a wider issue here: why would anyone actually want to read a government blog? By definition all the content is going to be is a regurgitation of government policy, and in both cases highlighted the blogs are not really riveting. This all stands in stark contrast to the blog I have just launched for Harriet Harman. First of all the programming costs were nil (I volunteered), we used open source software (Wordpress), and a team of volunteers keep an eye on the forums. Perhaps most importantly, the blog is party political – it’s not the government line – and hence it should prove to be more appealing. Political blogs and forums can work, they can be fun – look at Désirs d’Avenir – and eventually the Labour Party should learn the tricks.

6 Comments

  1. It’s a nice blog. Although I won’t be voting for her, I wish you the best of luck!

    Btw, gr8 2 c u @ the B4L social last week!!

  2. Ally McGovern

    Yep Jon – everyone I speak to loves what you did with Harriet’s blog/site. We are all very impressed.

    Big up yah.

  3. Nicole Murphy

    Well done!
    Harriets website is great!
    Lets make sure she gets to be deputy leader and then DPM!

  4. Kudos to you, it’s one of the wisest decisions made regarding Harriet Harman’s blog…

  5. My post was very UK based… These things don’t work in the UK because we have such a division between the government and party politics – a distinction that does not exist in the Commission.

    The degree that Wallström’s blog differs from the overall Commission line would never be allowed in the UK government – but that’s why Wallström’s blog is good, and Miliband’s isn’t.

  6. Very true, but it can be different. The government/institutional blogs of course serve fixed information most of the time, but you could also argue this is not always the case. See one of the last entries that Margot Wallstrom published on her blog where she argues against nuclear energy. The Commission seems to be quite friendly of using more of it to achieve the Kyoto targets, she – as member of the same institution – clearly makes a case against.

    Secondly, blogs are not one sided information. So even if the government server official positions, but keeps the blogs open you end up with an interesting dialogue. Where can the government get more instant, fast, sharp opposition than in the blogosphere? They post, you oppose if you like. It’s good for them to get opposite views, it’s good for you to actually access their frame of thinking.

    So, perhaps sometimes works.

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