There have been rumours flying around that David Miliband may be about to restart his blogging activity… in fact, I may even have generated one or two of them myself. Well, after a little detective work, I can exclusively confirm them. The Foreign Office is poised to launch a surprisingly ambitious blogging initiative, featuring not just one but as many as six blogs – from the very top to the very bottom of the organisation.
The intention, Miliband explains on the new site’s ‘about’ page, is to ‘show more of the enormous range of interesting, and challenging, work we do and why we do it.’ Miliband himself is joined by Jim Murphy, his Minister for Europe who ‘wants to hear your views on how the EU is doing, and to encourage discussion through this blog’. So whilst you’re not likely to get your referendum on the European treaty / constitution, you will at least have one outlet for your support / anger. Good luck to whoever’s moderating that one.
Then there’s Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO, currently Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Afghanistan; and Lindsay Appleby, a First Secretary (ie relatively senior) in the Brussels office. Reporting from the front line, there’s Maria Pia Gazzella, from the Embassy in Chile. But most remarkable of all is Sarah Russell, who doesn’t even work for the FCO yet – she’s a Fast Streamer due to join in October 2007, so presumably we’ll be following her progress as she learns the ropes.
As I understand it, the system is running on the very same Community Server machine as Miliband’s former Defra blog – which explains (a) why the Defra blog disappeared a couple of weeks back, and (b) why the presentation templates look very familiar indeed. I’m glad to see my own blog has kept its place in the (fairly brief) blogroll in DM’s sidebar, along with a few other usual egov suspects, and a selection of political blogs (not just red ones, either). But as I write this, there’s at least one notable omission.
I haven’t heard anything about a launch date, and there’s nothing immediately obvious on the site to give any hints. It all looks ready to go, though, barring the first round of postings.
But I need to say one thing. Although I’ve got good contacts ‘on the inside’ who probably knew about this, nobody ‘broke the embargo’. Miliband told the world it was coming; I just did a bit of digging, and happened to dig in the right place. The site is wide open for all to see; and if it was meant to be kept ‘secret’, it would/should have been password-protected. Even so, I’m not going to link to it directly – but I can’t stop you doing as I did, and guessing what the address might be.