In an earlier post, I said this:
Miliband's blogging doesn't prove a thing, except that he's willing to expose himself slightly. If my memory serves me correctly, he's filtering comments so he's still in control of both what he chooses to say and what feedback he chooses to publish.
To which David Miliband responded:
I was a bit confused by David Tebbutt's criticism that I was 'still in control of what [I] choose to say' - well of course I am; the point of the blog is that these are my own words!
And, I explained:
Yes, it was a rhetorical assertion.
A blog is no different to any other form of communication in that its author can reveal or hide whatever they wish.
Blogs don't have some magic dust that automatically makes them more credible than any other source of information. They are a channel which people can use or abuse how they wish...
Shortly afterwards, I was reading through other responses and I saw one from Ali Bushell which included this:
I think this is a great blog and am really enjoying reading and being part of it. I hope more Ministers, and indeed other public figures, start to do this more.
I definitely agree that Ministerial/political blogs will help to reduce the negative perception that our leaders are out of touch and don't listen to what people say, though, so a sterling effort on David's part if only for that.
I read that and wondered about who Ali Bushell might be. A bit of ferreting came up with someone of that name working for the department of education and science. I posted a comment to Miliband's blog immediately asking whether the commenter was the same Ali Bushell that works for the DfES.
Because of comment moderation, my remark was rejected.
Update: Following this post, my comment was approved. An oversight previously? Perhaps. It really doesn't matter. The issues raised were important. And, since we're on the subject of David Miliband, let's congratulate him on his new role as Environment Secretary.
Contrast this with Neville Hobson's treatment of one of my comments.
Neville was emphasising the benefits of getting information from the horse's mouth and bypassing the spin put on by journalists and PRs. He was following up on a Financial Times article by John Lloyd called The Truth About Spin.
Chris Edwards commented thusly:
Human nature is the key to all this and human nature is what leads to spin. That was the bit of Lloyd’s column you conveniently left out, Neville.
And I couldn't resist posing this question:
Oh dear. Does that mean Neville spun?
I know that these are trivial examples but they highlight an important issue. There are two kinds of comment moderation: the first cuts out abuse, irrelevance and spam, the second prevents inconvenient parts of the conversation from surfacing.
I take my hat off to Neville Hobson and leave it on for David Miliband. Neville understands the importance of transparency, David (or his blog admin person?) doesn't. I feel much more confident of getting the full story from Neville (despite the earlier spin remarks) than I do from David.