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Government slammed for £160,000 digital-czar job posting

LONDON - The government has been accused of wasting a "grotesque amount of public money" as it seeks to hire a digital guru, whose job will be to help MPs connect with voters online using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

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Read Gordon's Republic blog post -- Obama's digital guru says it can work for Labour.

A Whitehall vacancy has been posted on the Government's cabinet website, calling for a "director of digital engagement" with an annual salary between £81,600-£160,000.

The job ad reads "In recognition of the huge increase in the use of the internet, digital communities and social media, the Cabinet Office seeks to appoint a highly credible digital communicator to be Director of Digital Engagement across Government.

"The post will work across Government departments to encourage, support and challenge them in moving from communicating to citizens on the web to conversing and collaborating with them through digital technology. This is a great opportunity for a leading light in the use of digital technology to transform the way Government engages citizens and make their mark in a very high profile environment."

Conservative shadow ministers have blasted the posting, saying: "It defies belief that ministers are faffing around on Facebook and Twitter.

"It is a grotesque amount of public money to waste on a pointless job."

The three-year contract calls for a new digital-czar who will direct how government engages with voters and sells its policies online, leading a small team who will also optimise government's digital spend.

The job follows recent attempts of the Conservative and Labour parties to increase their presence online.

Earlier this month, Labour launched a new campaign, created by their digital agency Tangent One, which enables MPs to upload communication targeted at their constituents on Facebook, Twitter and through email.

Thomas Gensemer of Blue State Digital, who led Barack Obama's online campaign has been rumoured to be making a bid to take over Labour's digital account from Tangent One.

Meanwhile, there are around a dozen Labour MPs who use Twitter, including David Lammy, Kerry McCarthy  and Tom Harris.

In January, the Labour Party unveiled LabourList.org, a social network for Labour members and Labourspace.com, an online Party soapbox, as part of its new digital strategy.

Conservative leader David Cameron keeps a regularly updated blog on the Tory website and the Party recently hired frontbench MP David Hunt to lead its digital campaign for the next election.

A number of Tory MPs also use Twitter, including Cameron Rose and Ken Norman.

Read Gordon's Republic blog post -- Obama's digital guru says it can work for Labour.

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