You won't care.The Political Weblog Project is a collaborative effort designed to encourage MPs, Councillors and other elected officials to communicate more effectively online via the intelligent use of weblogs. Elected officials who wish to take part in this scheme must follow these simple rules that exist primarily for your own benefit:

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September 20, 2004

Boris Johnson

Conservative MP for Henley

Launched: September 20, 2004

Format: Movable Type

Comments: Yes
Trackback: Yes
Syndication: Yes

I thought it important to have at least one Conservative MP with a weblog; that would give us a balanced (if burgeoning) ecosystem.

At first, I targeted William Hague. Filtered through the media, he comes across as a real dope, but when allowed to communicate directly (i.e. in parliament and during a stellar performance as a guest host on Have I Got News For You) he really shines. In my view, this makes him a perfect candidate for blogging.

I emailed the man, I called his office... I even managed to collar him outside Westminster Hall. Sadly, it was not to be. He was 'too busy' to blog.

However, on August 17, 2004 - after an appeal on my weblog and a brilliant direct email to Boris's office from Shane McCracken - I managed to pique the interest of the lovely Melissa (Boris's PA).

A meeting followed, where I showed Melissa and then Boris the potential of weblogs and explained that Boris could take a lot of his existing output and feed it directly into the blog. And - because of his reputation as a busy, busy man - he could allow Melissa to take up the slack.

I had a pretty generous offer to make; with the support of Screen Pages and Wibbler, a full MT weblog was up for grabs (with free installation, design and consultation) if the right Tory MP chose to reach out and grab it.

Boris reached out and grabbed it.

What Boris has since established is that there is no such thing as being 'too busy to blog' - and that an MP with the right staff can benefit from them operating as ambassador(s).

Something else has come of the exercise; Boris had a less-than-pleasant end to his year in 2004, but the response he got on his website was incredibly supportive. Less than half-a-dozen comments were so witless and/or untoward that they had to be deleted. (This should be brought up whenever an MP fears that their comments system will be widely abused.)

It was during this same period that Melissa 'made her bones' and established herself as an honest and competent online communicator.

In July 2005, Boris was shortlisted for the Elected Representative category in the New Statesmen New Media Awards. Sadly, the judges failed to see the value in what Boris - or anyone else in his category - was doing, and they decided not to grant an award at all. My response is here if you would care to read it.

Shortly after this, the mighty Wibbler redesigned the site, introducing a new look and many improvements.

Posted by timireland on September 20, 2004 4:31 PM in the category Blogs: MPs (Conservative)


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