I haven’t yet seen official confirmation, but I’m reliably informed that Tom Watson is the new minister for e-government, post-reshuffle. The Cabinet Office website only says that: ‘Following on from Gillian Merron’s departure to the Department for International Development, Tom Watson MP has been appointed as new Parliamentary Secretary.’ And since she was responsible, it seems a safe bet that he is now. Watson, writing on his own blog, has only said that he has ‘some responsibility for technology projects’.
Tom Watson was famously the first MP to start a blog, back in 2003; he won recognition from the New Statesman’s new media awards in 2004. And already he’s putting it to good use, to try and engage with people like us:
If I was (smarter at all this stuff), I’d design a one page “Tell Tom” site where you could describe the project you think the clever people at the Ministry should be working on. A sort of “Fix my Street” for government web sites. All ideas welcome and who knows, you might actually make a difference.
(Tip for Tom: you’re using WordPress. Just create a ‘page’ rather than a ‘post’, and be sure to tick the ‘Allow Comments’ box – if, that is, your web designer has allowed for comments in the ‘page’ template, which he/she may not have done.)
This, of course, raises an interesting dilemma. Watson’s blog has always been unashamedly pro-Labour, anti-Tory: even in the last handful of posts, he’s been having digs at Iain Dale and David Cameron (reminding me of his apparent involvement in 2006’s notorious Sion Simon video). It’s generally good-natured, but it’s certainly party-political. So is it appropriate for him to conduct Ministerial business on the same blog?
I’m not trying to make a point by asking this question: just pointing out that Ministers face the same quandry as the civil servants. Tom clearly understands the territory, and it’s actually a great appointment from that perspective. But I’m more than curious to see how ministerial responsibility for government web activity will affect his long-running personal web activity.
5 thoughts on “Leading blogger is new e-gov Minister”
Good points – a good test case for the propriety and ethics bods I would think!
Why not just have a separate blog for the ministerial stuff? Would make sense. He could always have an RSS feed on his personal one to link the two up.
Still, it’s a good move. At least Watson is keen, even if his judgment isn’t always spot on (ie the Sion Simon thing).
Right on Dave, thats exactly what I would advise (if I ever was…)
Dave Briggs suggesting having more than one web presence? Surely not!
No technical reason for not to have two, of course… and we know the Cabinet Office has a blogging platform in place, although they never actually used it.
Of course! Mixing business with personal is tricky enough with some. But adding party political on top is even more difficult to manage without some (online) physical separation. Look at the nervousness people have about who is their facebook friend – colleagues or real mates – and the consequent knock on effects when all your office colleagues know you are hung over after a heavy night out….
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