Cabinet Ministers Who Blog?

Neville Hobson tells us that David Miliband, Britain’s Minister of Communities and Local Government, has started to blog. His blog is tied into his Ministry’s website. So, he is clearly posting as the Minister, not as a Member of Parliament.

In Canada, where we changed federal governments early in the year, we have several Members of Parliament who are bloggers. However, the one blogger MP who became a Minister in the new government, shut down his blog within days of entering Cabinet. His final post said, “I think this is going to have be my last blog entry for some time. As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration I’m coming to realize that blogging just might have to take a back seat to Ministering.”

It’s refreshing and positive that Miliband is willing to open his policies and actions as a Minister to debate in the blogosphere. If only the Canadian government would follow this lead. (Highly unlikely given the government’s moves to reduce the Parliamentary Press Gallery’s access to Cabinet meetings and Cabinet Ministers.)

Does anyone know of other Minister-level bloggers in any Canadian provincial governments or in any Parliamentary democracies elsewhere (Hello Australia)?

  • Sean

    Hey there,

    Great blog Joe! Plenty of interesting content to noodle through.

    Your take on Ministerial blogs is interesting. I expect many would agree with you. But here is an alternative perspective for your consideration.

    As PR professionals our first priority should not actually be to the communications success of our client, in this case a Minister. Rather, our first priority should be to the overall effectiveness of that Minister in his/her ability to successfully do their job.

    The Minister you refer to in your post made a decision that the cost of time spent maintaining a blog, was outweighed by the costs of not adequately fullfilling other aspects of his Ministerial (and likely personal, family, etc.) responsibilities, including meeting with constituents and stakeholders, formulating and executing policy decisions, serving in the House. All critical responsibilities, central to the success of the Minister.

    No doubt about it, a blog is a highly effective and influential communications vehicle, as we witnessed in the last national campaign. But as you know, a blog is also A LOT of work to maintain. The success of a blog depends on its timeliness, relevance and dynamic flow of frequently changing and updating content.

    A blog also ruthlessly demands authenticity of authorship, which means that the onus of time spent maintaining that blog would fall largely onto the Minister him/herself. Participants in the blogosphere would see right through a blog, once authored by the Minister himself, now penned by a hired hand – permanently damaging the credibility of the blog and the Minister.

    Certainly, the Government of Canada should take a close look at blogs as a powerful new message delivery vehicle, but as with any communications vehicle, the decision to create and maintain a blog must first factor in the costs associated with that initiative.

    In the world of Ministerial politics, I am not sure the benefits of a blog outweight the costs associated with its successful execution. Perhaps that will change over time…

    Thanks for this interesting food for thought, Joe!

    Sean

  • Hi Sean,
    Thanks for your comment. I think you certainly reflect a point of view that seems to hold sway at this time – at least in Canada. As far as I can see, politicians use blogs as a campaign tool. But they seem to drop them quickly once they enter government.
    I hope that, over time, more Ministers will see that blogs create a “virtual town hall” that extends their contact with their constituents and Ministerial clientele far beyond that which they have been able to achieve through meetings, travel and events.Through blogs, they will be able to have closer, regular contact with the views of the public. And a government that listens is much better than a government that simply imposes its will.