Tag Archives: Political Futures

An Afternoon in Norwich

Andrew In NorwichHello, my name is Andrew, and most of the time I blog at Someday I Will Treat You Good, which is a blog that (0n the whole) deals with issues that are local to where I live; Lewisham in South East London. The photo on the right is me.

Along with Shane I spent last Wednesday afternoon meeting with 4 of the 7 councillors from Norfolk County Council who have been asked to take part in our project, Cllr 2.0, and a number of council officers who are helping make the project work.

We were there to explain a little bit about what we are hoping to do – encourage councillors and other civic leaders to use blogs to communicate with the public – and to hopefully give the councillors confidence that they could get some benefit from becoming bloggers.

My role in this is as someone who was – until May last year – a blogging councillor, and so aware of some of the advantages and pitfalls of taking on a blog.

Cllrs from NorfolkShane began with a presentation about the various ways elected representatives are using the web to develop their relationship with constituents, everything from participating on online forums, being available through social networking sites like Facebook, and participating in online events like LifeSwap, through to having their own website and blog.

My presentation focused on my own experiences and the lessons I’d learned over the 4 and a half years I’ve been blogging about my community.

These are the bullet point notes I’d made to accompany the presentation:

  • Councillor in Lewisham for 9 years
  • Increasingly unhappy about traditional communications
    • Many of the same faces at public meetings and surgeries
    • Doorstep campaigning left voters with very partial view of us; vote hungry, point scoring, and divorsed from real life
  • At the same time I started reading about blogs and became a lurker.
  • Saw Stewart Bruce (first councillor to blog) and Tom Watson’s blogs
  • Joined Lewisham Council’s cabinet in December 2003
  • Started a blog in February 2004
    • Didn’t ask permission from Mayor, Chief Whip or fellow ward councillors
    • It’s my role as a politician to communicate with the electorate
    • But did think about what and how I’d write
  • Rules I set myself
    • Be positive
    • Be engaged with the wider bloggersphere
    • Be accountable
    • Remember your audience – the public, your colleagues, your opponents and the press
    • Admit your mistakes early – “its not the crime its the cover-up that gets you”
    • Don’t edit posts to make yourself look better
    • Encourage feedback

I’ll add the slides from the presentation once I can load them up to SlideShare.

Update – Here are the slides I used to illustrate the talk I gave