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E-minister tells us where he's been for four months

Alexander pops up again to launch new government site

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The formerly elusive e-minister Douglas Alexander turned up for the third time this week at the launch of new government Web site www.beyondbricks.com, a portal for Internet entrepreneurs.

We took the opportunity to ask him where he's been for the last four months and if this sudden flurry of activity was a one-off. "We have got a rolling schedule of work," he told us. "Blah blah blah various initiatives blah blah blah get more broadband blah blah blah the important thing is that we make a difference."

A good politician's answer but not really an explanation to why he has been conspicuous by his complete absence since being awarded the post of E-commerce minister back in June. The conference organiser also gave him an unintentional dig. "We thought he was on holiday, we couldn't get hold of him," he told the packed conference crowd.

However we can't fault Mr Alexander's activity this week. On Tuesday he delivered stinging rebuke of BT, saying that it needed to roll-out broadband faster and make it cheaper (although when we pressed him yesterday over what he felt was a fair price he said: "I don't want to add anything to what was said in the announcement".)

Then on Wednesday he opened the Solution Europe conference on Internet security. Yesterday, the new entrepreneur site. We shall see how he does next week.

Career Move

So what of our new e-minister? Well he's clearly a career politician. There's no way he's up to speed on what is going with the Internet but clearly his script writers are. We didn't feel the short history of e-commerce through the eyes of the DTi was very useful though, and the dig at the media ("the media backlash was as swift as it was ruthless") was completely pointless. The choice of Lastminute.com as an example of a good Internet company was also flawed in our view.

Douglas possesses that innate skill of politicians to make the most lively-worded speech sound as dull as possible. We don't have a problem with him acting as a glorified newsreader but if he really is keen to make it to the top of government he could do worse than really understand the Internet and then speak from the heart.

He's still in his thirties but looks younger with big round rabbit eyes. Just in case you don't get to see him for another four months. ®

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