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Why Politicians Need Weblogs

First published in April 2003, this page was constantly updated with new weblogs from MPs, Councillors and candidates until just before the 2005 General Election. You may note that Iain Dale rated a mention, even though he was only a candidate at the time. I eventually gave in and included him after multiple requests, though I should've gone with my gut and ignored him as a spamming twat.

You have enough crap to read through, so I'll make this brief.

Put simply, a weblog is an online diary. There are a number of different formats, and a wide variety of people that use them. Instead of publishing more or less static content that explains who you are and what you care about, a weblog format allows you to express yourself a sentence at a time. You tell people what's happening, as it happens. If there's further reading on the subject, you link to it. This can happen on a weekly, daily or hourly basis.

Running a weblog is so straightforward that many people who appreciate their value as a resource find it very easy to start one (or adopt the format for use on their existing site). This leads us to the issue of interaction.

A lot of the people that you reach via a weblog will post comments on a weblog of their own and link to you in the process. Some weblogs have an audience counting in the dozens, others into the hundred or thousands. Portals that watch or monitor such link activity have audiences reaching more towards hundreds of thousands. Good stuff - important stuff - reaches many, many people almost immediately in this way.

This publishing frequency (presented in the correct format) has a very positive effect not only on people, but also on the search engines that are using them increasingly to decide what is the most important, relevant and fresh result for any given search query.

A valid weblog will have a pronounced effect on the two top search databases on the planet - Google and Yahoo. People seeking information relating to issues you think to be important will invariably find your site among the top results.

End result?

You show the people who vote for you how hard you're working, and attract the majority of those interested in issues you care about. You may even learn an important thing or two from us in the process.

It's wonderfully organic, and it works. And you need it.

Early adopters who do it - and do it right - stand to benefit the most.

Get on with it. The next election is closer than you think.

UPDATE (22 Jun 2004) - It's been well over a year since this article was published and MPs and Councillors started blogging. If you haven't cottoned on and/or taken action yet, then you are officially 'at risk' as of now. If you won't come to us, we will come to you (this page contains an additional list of blogs being written on behalf of MPS):
How To Run a Weblog on Behalf of Your MP

Examples of weblogs by politicians (listed in rough order of launch):
Lib-Dem MP Richard Allan (UK)
Labour MP Tom Watson (UK)
Former senator Gary Hart (US)
Labour Councillor Stuart Bruce (UK)
Conservative Councillor James Mills (UK)
(Note - James was recently voted out by the narrowest of margins, but he can hold his head high as the very first Tory blogger.)
Labour MP Austin Mitchell (UK)
Labour MP Clive Soley (UK)
Lib-Dem Councillor Claire Potter (UK)
Labour Councillor Fiona Colley (UK)
Conservative Councillor Paul Cumming (UK)
Labour Councillors Tim and Megan Swift (UK)
Labour Councillor Julian Sharpe (UK)
Labour Councillor Andrew Brown (UK)
Labour Councillor David Boothroyd (UK)
Labour Councillor Bob Piper (UK)
Lib-Dem Councillors Nigel Howells and John Dixon (UK)
Conservative Candidate Iain Dale (UK)
Labour MP Shaun Woodward (UK)
Conservative Candidate Kevin Davis (UK)
Lib-Dem Candidate Jody Dunn (UK)
Conservative MP Boris Johnson (UK)
Lib-Dem MP Sandra Gidley (UK)

(Note - More and more councillors and candidates are coming online with blogs and I don't always catch every debut, so this list may get a bit out-of-orderish towards the tail. Apologies.)

Examples of weblogs by politicians that aren't really weblogs (listed in rough order of launch):
Presidential hopeful Howard Dean (US) - written by various members of staff
Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark (US) - written by various members of staff
Presidential pretender George W Bush (US) - written by anonymous members of staff

How to get more information:
Check out any of the above links or be brave enough to click here and ask me a dumb question or two.