Monday, June 19, 2006

David Miliband Invites You to Contribute to His Blog

LibDem MP Chris Huhne has discovered that David Miliband's blog costs £40k a year to run. You'd have thought he could have got a free one through Blogger or Wordpress, wouldn't you? But the giveaway is that two staff spent 40% of their time running it. What do they do? Well I presume they write it, because it bears all the hallmarks of being written by a committee. I'm all in favour of Government Ministers interacting with people, but not if it is done in this way. If Miliband wants to do a blog he should write it himself and use a platform which doesn't cost the taxpayer money. And in case anyone thinks differently, the graphic is a joke... Hat-tip for graphic to Beau Bo D'Or.


David Webster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nsfl said...

The truly astonishing thing about this is that Miliband's department responded truthfully to Huhne's FoI request and revealed that two (govt) employees spent 40 per cent of their time on it. Why no cover-up from this mendacious government over this shameful stat? (Unless, of course, it actually diverts five people for 100 per cent of their time.)

Anonymous said...

I think it actually took 2 staff, 40% of their day during the set-up/early phase. There's just going to be one person doing it from now on. I guess the 2 people/40% of their day was the initial task of looking into the legality of it all and consulting with cabinet collegues over what could and couldn't be said on the blog.

Storm in a tea cup really (although the blog *is* rubbish)

Archbishop Cranmer said...

Blogs are best manned intermittently. That is their nature. They are informal, imperfect, occasionally untidy, or incomplete in thought. The purpose of inviting comment is to challenge and complement. To spend £40k and make a political blog a full-time pursuit (or part time for two people...) is to misunderstand the medium. Milliband does not seek dialogue on his thoughts; he wants disciples to drink in his NuLab ideology (if that is what it is).

Why would anyone waste their time on that?

How many poor would £40,000 feed?

Paul Linford said...

It would be interesting to know (a) how much traffic there is on Miliband's blog, and (b) how much of that is attributable to it being linked to by Iain Dale!

Bishop Hill said...

These two public sector servants have produced a total of 2300 words of output this month. That's about 32 words per hour each or approximately the same number of words as this comment.

Croydonian said...

Considerably duller than ditchwater, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I read you are unimpressed by David Miliband's blog. Don't be so harsh on him: he is at least more innovative and attempting genuine outreach. He did at least publish the critical comment I posted - from the left- of his own green information shortcomings. cheers
Dr David Lowry

Dear Mr Miliband

I was shocked to hear you twice say in your first prime time radio interview as Environment Secretary on the Today Programme on 12 May that nuclear power is "carbon-free" and produces zero carbon. I would have been very surprised and indeed alarmed if Sir David King told you this when he briefed you last weekend. I invite you to read my Guardian 'Response' article below, and visit the URLs appended to see that this statement about nuclear power and carbon emissions is simply untrue.
You could also read part of the Government's own Energy Review Consultation Document, in Annex A on technologies, (
it concedes " Nuclear power plants emit almost zero carbon, and could therefore
contribute to the governments goal of reducing emissions. However the mining, refining
and enriching of uranium, and plant construction and decommissioning, are carbon-intensive
processes, especially when low quality uranium ore is being processed." (page 64)
Note the Government insertion of the word 'almost'.
I do hope you will also read the SERA pamphlet 'What's in the Mix: The Future of Energy Policy 'by nine of your Labour Parliamentary collegues, released this month, one key chapter, by Colin Challen, perhaps Labour's lead green thinker and specialist on energy issues, which I reproduce below.
Dr David Lowry
environmental policy & research consultant


There is nothing green about Blair's nuclear dream

To assess the industry's environmental impact, we must look at the whole fuel cycle, writes David Lowry

Thursday October 20, 2005
The Guardian

The Guardian leader (Pre-empting debate, October 1), on why ministers should be cautious before again taking the nuclear route to energy salvation, is sensible. But it contains an erroneous, if common, statement: "The big advantage of nuclear generation is that it does not produce environmentally degrading emissions in the way that fossil fuel generation does." The nuclear industry is fond of making this claim, unfortunately compounded in James Meek's survey of our nuclear record (Back to the future, G2, October 4), where Keith Parker, the chief executive of the Nuclear Industries Association, described nuclear energy as "non-carbon emitting".
Production of nuclear electricity is not carbon free, because the production of nuclear fuel for these reactors is significantly energy intensive. While it is true that most nuclear reactors do not emit CO2 at the point of generation, reactors are a small part of the nuclear fuel cycle, which emits large amounts of CO2. These arise from the so-called front end of the fuel cycle - uranium mining, ore milling, uranium hexafluoride conversion, fuel enrichment and, finally, fabrication of the fuel rods. Moreover, nuclear waste management at the "back end" is already energy hungry in treatment, conditioning, transportation and final disposal in some future repository (if ministers ever give the green light).
Thus life-cycle analyses are essential to assess the true impact of the entire processes. A number of such studies have examined CO2 emissions - commonly expressed as CO2 equivalents per kWh - for different methods of producing electricity. The most comprehensive model has been created by the Öko Institut, which advises the German environment ministry, and by Professors Smith and Van Leeuwen at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands.

Both studies conclude that the nuclear fuel cycle can emit relatively large amounts of CO2. The lower the uranium concentration in ore, the more CO2 generated; and as a means of enrichment, gas diffusion was much more energy intensive - and thus CO2 emitting - than centrifuge separation.

Using sensible assumptions, Professors Smith and Van Leeuwen determined that nuclear generation produced about a third as much CO2 per kWh as conventional mid-sized gas-fired electricity generation.

As several papers made clear when presented to the World Nuclear Association's annual symposium last month, the industry will increasingly have to rely on poorer-quality uranium ores, and thus CO2 emissions from the nuclear cycle will increase. Öko's analysis shows that nuclear CO2 emissions are up to four or five times greater than those from renewables.

Last week, the energy minister Malcolm Wicks conceded in a written answer to Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, that the Department for Trade and Industry "has undertaken no assessment of the life-cycle carbon emissions of a nuclear fission plant".

Before starting down the nuclear route promoted by Tony Blair at Labour's conference, ministers need a proper comparative analysis of nuclear's hidden carbon emissions.

• David Lowry is nuclear issues coordinator for Labour's environment campaign, Sera

Geoff said...

But surely this fits in with the UK's goal of exporting our carbon emissions like buying all goods from China and steel etc from other countries

Curly said...

I'm with JM on this one, as an acerbic contributer to the Miliblog (it's a bit like visiting the clinic for a hearing test) I can now understand that at least three minutes per day must be spent deciding whether or not to publish a contributor's comment.

If Huhne can analyse this and decide that the cost is £40,000 then I'm glad Gordon Brown is running the economy! Wouldn't want a mathematically challenged Lib-Dem in charge would we?

As for the Miliblog being sanitised, inane, boring, difficult to read, non-political, and certainly devoid of humour, you would have to admit that it is easier to grasp the first two pages of Karl Marx' Communist Party Manifesto.

Anonymous said...

Is it legal for this Millibrand twitnit to spend taxpayers' money promoting himself? If not, and I think it is not legal to spend his department's budget on self-promotion, how quickly will he pay back the £40,000 and what interest will be charged?

neil craig said...

Dr Lowry's piece abot the difference between Nuclear being "carbon free" & producing "almost no carbon" (building reactors uses a little carbon as does having breathing employees) makes sense only if he is equally on record as saying windmills produce more carbon (in the setting of 1,000 tons of conctret in their base).