Give every MP a blog, save taxpayers £millions

Talk today in the Commons about MPs’ communication to their constituents. The BBC reports: ‘MPs could get an extra £10,000 a year to help them keep in touch with constituents in a planned shake-up of the commons allowances system. Commons leader Jack Straw said a change to the expenses policy was needed as MPs now received 300 letters a week.’

The article goes on to quote Straw: ‘We do have to keep up with the times. There is a demand, not for a report with glossy photographs of a sitting MP but actually describing in some detail what I have been doing.’ Hang on… cheap one-to-many communication? describing your constituency work in detail? Did somebody say ‘blog’?

As I was discussing with a fellow pro the other day… the tools are now available at negligible cost. Give every MP a WordPress-based blog (cost: free), based on the recently released WordPress MU v1.0, on some external hosting space (cost: maybe as little as £150 per year). Get someone who knows what they’re doing to set it up. Lots of RSS and email alerting. And plenty of change from your 10-grand-a-head.

2 thoughts on “Give every MP a blog, save taxpayers £millions”

  1. Simon, as big a fan as I am of blogs and social media, this is one idea that just isn’t going to work. Blogs must be an additional channel, not a replacement channel. MPs (or any elected politician or candidate) must engage with the electorate by attending community meetings, holding advice surgeries, street stalls, newsletters, mainstream media etc. No one channel reaches everyone. It is essential to include everyone in the conversation.
    Also in my experience the “Get someone who knows what they’re doing to set it up” could be the sticking point for lots of MPs.

  2. No argument there, Stuart… but certainly the Beeb’s suggestion is that each Member should get an extra £10k on top of what they already get for standard correspondence (‘approximately £7,000’). It doesn’t seem entirely clear yet, though, as Sir George Young in particular pointed out during the debate.
    Yesterday’s motion only represented an in-principle endorsement of ‘a separate Allowance for Members of Parliament to assist in the work of communicating with the public on parliamentary business’, with a view to producing ‘a detailed proposal’ later on. (It passed comfortably, by the way.)

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