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If a councillor blogs what sort of content is acceptable? Should it be the same as for anyone else blogging – an obligation to keep within the law, notably in terms of libel, but otherwise say what you like? Or should a councillor have some greater restraint. Thanet Council are proposing a "Code of Conduct" for blogging councillors which, for instance, prohibits "personal attacks."

What if a councillor accuses another councillor of telling a lie? Is that acceptable in a blog or the Council Chamber or both or neither?

These are all difficult areas but I think Thanet are making trouble for themselves trying to adopt a specific blogging code. There is a complaints procedure for councillors behaving in an unacceptable way but I'm not sure why a blog – as opposed to a comment in a leaflet or a letter to a local paper – should have a special code of conduct.

Generally the best practice is for free speech to operate and if a councillor makes offensive comments for him to be voted out. Political parties with any sense would seek to deselect serious offenders before the election was under way. We shouldn't get into the territory of Council officers administering codes of conduct telling a councillor what they can or can't say on a personal blog.

38 comments for: Should councillor blogs be regulated?

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