David Miliband MP, Government minister at DEFRA (Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and anointed successor to Tony Blair, has been in the news this week. It seems to be for refusing to deny his refusal to confirm his withholding or otherwise of support or non-support for Gordon Brown becoming the next Prime Minister. Something like that, anyway - I was beginning to lose the thread of the story, a thread that has come close to snapping under the weight of desperate journalists clinging to it for ANY kind of controversy about the Prime Ministerial succession.
The political hacks are clearly looking in the wrong place - check out his blog (http://www.davidmiliband.defra.gov.uk/blogs/ministerial_blog/default.aspx) and you'll come across this rather defensive posting :
"Contrary to the repeated falsehood that this blog costs £40,000, here are the facts. The initial start up cost of the blog at ODPM was £6,000. The changeover to Defra cost £1,250 and ongoing technical costs amount to £900 pa. Since I write my own blogs, read comments, and don't have a shadow blogger the admin costs are low: one valiant official spends part of his time posting blogs and comments. It is estimated that this takes around 10 hours per month at an estimated cost of £300."
According to official figures published by the Lib Dems, Government IT projects have overrun their initial budgets by more than £260 million over the last five years. And the worst performing department, in terms of proportion of overrun? None other than Mr Miliband's DEFRA.
My blog cost £22.50 to register two domain names, and monthly broadband connection of less than £30 per month. I can't quite afford to employ a glorified spell-checker at £30 per hour, but for half that money, I'd gladly show Mr Miliband how to press the "Upload Post" button.
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