Thursday, August 26, 2004

Yet another political blogger

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Two new entries at the diary

Great results for Darlington school kids and Make every cup of coffee count for charity.

It's still not updated as frequently as this blog, however.

ic Teesside - There's an exciting year ahead

ic Teesside - There's an exciting year ahead: "People living and working in Darlington face an exciting future."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Tom Watson on blogging MPs

Tom Watson reports that "a steady stream of MPs have been in touch about blogs that are being set up in their name" and that "a number of the MPs who have had sites set up on their behalf, have been reading this blog to see how it runs".

Friday, August 20, 2004

More on the charities select committee chaired by Alan Milburn

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Scotland seeks own definition of public benefit: "Mr Milburn's joint committee will report back to the Westminster parliament on its scrutiny of the English legislation by September 30"

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Alan Milburn expresses concern over Cleveland Bridge's Wembley Stadium troubles

Friday, August 13, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Westminster visitors complain of cool welcome

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Westminster visitors complain of cool welcome

"politics 'conducted by and for the elite.'"

"'Each MP should have a weblog or e-journal of their parliamentary and constituency activities'."

Alan Milburn welcomes more overseas aid

More overseas aid is welcomed: "I know too that tackling world poverty will be a key theme next year when Britain takes over its presidencies of the European Union and the G8 group of industrialised nations."

New Statesman - Men remain stuck in cages of their own creation

New Statesman - Men remain stuck in cages of their own creation: "The first British politician who, when he said he was leaving to 'spend more time with his family', actually did plan to spend more time with his family."

I made a brief tongue-in-cheek reference to Alan Milburn's decision to step down as Health Secretary in my previous post and it's mentioned in the next Google news alert to appear in my inbox!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Meeting Alan Milburn

I've been in to meet with Alan Milburn today to discuss how he could use a blog to help him communicate with his constituents. We talked for around half-an-hour about blogs and blogging, email communication and Darlington in general. Alan seemed to appreciate the way a blog could help him communicate with constituents, though did point out that most constituents contact him via phone, fax or letter, very few via email.

Alan seemed very keen for the blog to continue, and was interested in himself and his office taking a more active role, but was reluctant to commit to personally updating the blog before he had a better understanding of how much of a time committment it would be. He actually seemed to quite like the idea of keeping a more independent voice (erm, me) writing on the blog, so I may be around for some time (until I step down to spend more time with my family).

As a halfway step, one of Alan's constituency workers is going to start posting items to the blog (the same person who emailed about Alan's day in Darlington last week), in addition to me. I've sent a blogger invite to join the blog so, hopefully, they will be along shortly to introduce themselves. Each post to the blog is tagged with the name of the author, so readers should be able to easily see who posts what.

I think Alan deserves to be congratulated for taking this step.

Darlington news: Regional Assembly Referendum

Regional Assembly Referendum: "If you are not already on the electoral register and you want to vote in the Regional Assembly Referendum for the North East Region on 4th November, you need to register now!"

Update: Oops, I didn't spot the registration deadline date was yesterday (thanks AndyRoo). Though, this does show that you need to register when you move house!

And I meet Alan Milburn in two and a half hours

Not Jim Cousins is going to see Jim Cousins and I'm going to see Alan Milburn. Today!

North East MPs are obviously more on-the-ball than most. North East MPs Blog Ring?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Alan Milburn counters Renewal editorial

Renewal is a quarterly Labour journal to which Labour ministers regularly contribute, and which has several current ministers, and some former ministers, on its editorial advisory board, including Alan Milburn. The latest issue's Editorial marks a new disillusionment with Mr Blair on the part of hitherto sympathetic party intellectuals.

Accoriding to a BBC article: "The journal's managing editor Neal Lawson says the ministers and Labour MPs on the advisory board did not contribute to or have any influence on the article, extracts of which are published in Monday's Guardian." (Guardian article: Former Labour allies round on Blair.)

Mr Milburn said the first he had heard of the article was in Monday's newspaper.

"I totally disagree with it. Tony Blair has not only succeeded in transforming the Labour Party but in transforming the country.

"Those who think otherwise have clearly got short memories."

Saturday, August 07, 2004

New diary pieces at Alan's official site

Friday, August 06, 2004

A day in Darlington

As I understand it, Alan usually spends Monday to Wednesday in London, then Thursday and Friday, and occasionally Saturday, in Darlington, before spending the weekends with his family. Alan's office sent me an email detailing some of what he did yesterday on a day in his constituency and what he has planned for next Thursday. Blogging is as simple as sending an email, once the blog is set up, so sending this email is almost blogging!

Basically yesterday we held an advice surgery for constituents in the big B&Q store at Morton Park - where people had the opportunity to turn up and raised issues.

Then Alan organized a meeting between union officials, management of Cleveland Bridge, Barry Keel, Chief Exec of Darlington Borough Council, and Bill Dixon, Deputy Leader of DBC, to talk about the recent job losses at the factory. It was a very good meeting - the upshot being Alan will write to the FA telling them the dispute between Multiplex and Hollandia has cost 95 jobs and that the Wembley Stadium project is now in serious jeopardy.

We will be meeting again next Thursday to try to take things forward. There were various media outlets interested in what had occurred, and so we did a few interviews, and then saw more people for surgery.

We've got quite a busy diary next Thursday too - we will be going to see Friends of North Lodge Park in the afternoon to talk to them about the work they have been doing trying to clean-up the park, attract Gov grants and Alan will have some tea in Mollie's Famous Tea Tent! The purpose of the visit is to meet the hard-working volunteers and see if the group can be nominated for the Home Office's Taking A Stand Award, aimed at people who are taking on the plague of anti-social behaviour.

Now, if Alan wrote it...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Alan Milburn to meet with union and management at Cleveland Bridge

I've no link to support this, but BBC TV local news reported this morning that Alan Milburn is to meet with union and management at Cleveland Bridge to discuss the job losses announced there after the firm pulled out of the Wembley Stadium build.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Comment | Whose benefit?

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Comment | Whose benefit?

It sounds like Alan has a very busy time ahead.

A busy day for the (Not) Alan Milburn blog

Yesterday was a very busy day for this blog. Not only did I visit Alan Milburn's in Darlington to meet his constituency team, but the site reveived its highest number of visitors so far, with 77 people visiting for the first time and 20 people returning for a second look.

Thankyou to all the visitors. If any of you are constituents of Alan, a short comment on this post would lend a lot of weight to the argument for him having his own blog.

Update: Having posted this, today has already passed yesterday's visitor numbers (159 new visitors today at the time of writing (5:40pm)) and the whole site has just passed the 1000 visits mark (since I set up the counter on June 15th). I'm astounded.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Blogging MPs: Some Reading Material for Alan

Clive Soley MP: Why MP's Should Get Blogging: "an additional way of talking to the public without the media in the middle", is how Clive Soley MP (Labour) describes blogging in the excellent article on his website.

I'm sure fellow Labour MP, and blogger, Tom Watson would be willing to talk about blogging.

There's also the Hansard Society report Political Blogs - Craze or Convention (pdf file).

Exciting Alan Milburn blog developments

This morning I visited Alan Milburn's constituency offce, having been invited by one of his constituency workers; I promised not to blog anything about the meeting in advance, which is why this is the first mention here. (I was contacted by email within 30 minutes of providing an address - a hint for all proxy-bloggers: provide a private way of communicating with you...)

We had a nice chat about how blogging could help Alan communicate with his constituents (and they with him), Alan's busy schedule and possible future developments. His staff were very interested in blogging, and Alan himself is keen to meet me.

I'm going to continue with this blog for the time being; his office were supportive of it, and asked how they could help me.

Stay tuned.

Private schools bill shambles

"The Home Office is to review its proposals for tightening the rules giving independent schools charitable status, after the Charity Commission said they would have no impact and a former cabinet minister called them a 'dog's breakfast'."

Guess who?

Monday, August 02, 2004

New Contact Details

Using the links in the sidebar to the right, you can now email me or access Alan's contact page.

ic Newcastle - Web of intrigue as 'blogger' tracks MP

As part of an article about the Jim Cousins weblog, The Journal wrote "A site dedicated to Darlington MP Alan Milburn, run by a 27-year-old teacher in his constituency, has issued calls on him to resign and says: 'That's what this weblog is for: to encourage Alan to either let us know what he's doing, or step down.'"

Hmm, I suppose I did say that, though if you read the whole post it's not nearly as unfriendly as The Journal implies, certainly not if taken in the context of the entire website.

Saying that I've "issued calls on him to resign" is taking things a bit far. For the record, I'm neither pro- or anti-Milburn.

(Aren't blogs great? I have no money at my disposal, but can publish corrections to stories in newspapers that I don't even read! Everyone should have one, especially people in the public eye, like MPs...)

Local Compact Launch

Local Compact Launch: "15/07/04 - The first ever Local Compact between Darlington Borough Council, the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and local voluntary and community groups was launched today at Darlington's Crown Street Library.

Darlington MP Alan Milburn officially launched the document that was signed by the Leader of Darlington Borough Council John Williams, Sandra Pollard, Chair of the PCT and Alan Coultas, Chair of CVS (Council for Voluntary Services)."

I didn't see this event in any newspapers, but while Alan was helping out at the library, he launched a new document as well. (The website gives different dates for the two events, but Alan's wearing the same suit and tie in both pictures, so I assume it was the same day.)

Library IT Presentations

Library IT Presentations: "16/07/04 - Darlington MP Alan Milburn joined staff at Crown Street Library to present information computer technology training certificates."

Ah, this was in the Advertiser a few weeks ago; I finally found an online version at Darlington's council website. If Alan had a weblog, he could have posted this picture there.

That lady's waiting to get some books out, but Alan hasn't noticed her. I don't think that PC has a net connection, but there are some about 50 feet to his right that do.