Thursday, June 22, 2006

Guardian article - Councillor keeps in touch with blog

Thought I would post the article written about my blog in this weeks local guardian. In relation to the article it was pretty balanced article. The enjoys playing golf part?? I have played it once in three years(last Saturday) and I do not know what was on my mind when I put sugarbabes down, obviously round round must have been playing on the MP3 when I did my profile.

Councillor keeps in touch with blog
By Diana Pilkington
With it: Martin Whelton.
Once the pursuit of internet whizzkids who recorded their daily musings for all the world to read, the online phenomenon of blogging is now catching on with politicians.

In Merton one councillor with his finger on the pulse has launched his own web log, or blog, to keep in touch with his constituents. Martin Whelton, Labour councillor for Pollards Hill ward, has posted more than 100 entries on his blog since he started it in March. Mr Whelton, 31, said: "I think it's important as councillors that we are open and accessible and we communicate about things we are doing.

"Blogging is a growing industry and in the US more and more politicians have blogs. More people are using the internet and we need to exploit this technology." As well as posting details about the goings-on in his ward and attempting to expose what he sees as "the failures and contradictions of Merton minority Tory administration", Mr Whelton gives an insight into his personal life too.

A quick skim through the latest entries reveals Mr Whelton is an Aquarius born in the Chinese year of the rabbit who loves the Sugababes, enjoys playing golf and is an avid viewer of the World Cup.

He said: "At 31, I'm the oldest councillor in Pollards Hill the other two are 27 and 29. But there are very few young people involved in politics. The average age of a councillor is late 60s.
"People need to see that as councillors we are ordinary people. We're not complete politicos. We do have a life and other interests too."

Mr Whelton said his blog is popular with his friends and is a useful resource to his constituents.
Proving that people are actually reading his blog, Mr Whelton has received several comments in relation to individual postings.

But as encouraging as this is, it can be problematic too.
He said: "You have to watch things like potential defamation issues. I monitor the comments before I put them on the page but I try and let most appear as they were written.
"Sometimes you do get a few derogatory comments. There was a very derogatory one about MP Siobhain McDonagh in relation to the issue of academies in Merton, so I censored it."

As far as he is aware, Mr Whelton is the only councillor in Merton to have tapped into this new technology.

To see his efforts, visit


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