£40,000 - the real cost of reading David's diary

* When David Miliband became the first Cabinet minister to launch an online diary a few months back, he boldly declared that he intended to "bridge the gap between politicians and the public". What Miliband failed to mention was just how much the "blog" would be costing the British taxpayer.

According to research by the Liberal Democrats' urbane front bencher, Chris Huhne, the amount is somewhere approaching £40,000 a year.

Huhne has come to this whopping figure after tabling a written question to the recently promoted Environment Secretary's office earlier this month to ask what sort of manpower was involved in maintaining the site. He was told that two members of staff employed by Defra had recently dedicated as much as 40 per cent of their office time working on it.

So far, claims Huhne, this also means the blog has cost around £1 a word to upkeep. "How can it cost £40,000 a year of taxpayers' money for staff to capture David Miliband's hot air on climate change?" he says.

Ever since the blog was launched to great fanfare back in March, it's been heavily criticised. Some politicos complained that the content was too boring, while others claimed it was failing to attract intelligent debate on its message postings.

A spokesman for Miliband said yesterday: "I don't quite know how Chris Huhne worked out that figure. At the moment, we think it's going to be a small percentage of one existing member of staff's time."

* Sir Tom Stoppard is very much the man of the moment around theatreland again after his new play Rock 'n' Roll went down a storm at the Royal Court on Wednesday night.

So it comes as little surprise to hear that the film rights to the play are apparently already being considered by Sir Mick Jagger's production company, Jagged Films.

The singer - who is good friends with Stoppard -was in the audience for the opening night of the production, which also happens to feature music by, among others, the Rolling Stones.

If the deal does work out, it wouldn't be the first time Jagger and Stoppard have paired off.

Stoppard wrote the script for Enigma, the World War Two movie Jagger produced in 2001.

"If anything has been discussed, it would have been a private conversation with Sir Mick and Sir Tom," says a spokesman for the play.

"To be honest, it's not something we would have heard about yet."

* As racing tycoon John Magnier would no doubt testify, Manchester United supporters are sensitive about their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

The latest to feel the red army's wrath is Hammersmith and Fulham MP, Greg Hands.

Last week, Hands posted an Early Day Motion in the Commons condemning Ferguson for "his continuing efforts to prevent Wayne Rooney from playing for England in the World Cup".

It's brought him no end of grief from United fans, who have been barracking him with hate mail ever since. "I don't know if any of the e-mails are from my constituents or not," Hands tells me.

"All I do know is that someone called reddevil@hotmail.com is particularly unhappy with me."

* The campaigning comedian Mark Thomas is claiming a moral victory over Perrier's decision to pull its sponsorship of the Edinburgh Festival's comedy award.

Thomas and other protesters have been rallying against Perrier's involvement for years, due to its parent company Nestlé's allegedly aggressive marketing of baby food in the Third World.

On Wednesday, Perrier claimed it had ended its 25-year association with the award to "explore new opportunities for the brand".

Thomas reckons otherwise. "The work of campaigners and activists must be a factor in the company's decision to quit the festival," he says. "The question to ask the company is, if everything is going so well, why pull out?"

* I do hope the messy scandal involving Mark Oaten's private life isn't stopping him from keeping his constituents in the loop. Each spring, Oaten produces his annual report detailing his activities around Westminster and beyond. Strangely, colleagues have noted that this year's offering has not arrived. "It usually goes up on his website right away, but it's not there yet," says one. "To be fair, Mark's always been very good at keeping his constituents informed about what he's been up to in the Commons and in the constituency. Understandably, he's obviously still choosing very carefully what to say in this year's report."

Oaten's office, meanwhile, insists their man isn't running scared. "I think there will be one on the way, although I don't know when," says a spokesman.

pandora@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss