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Saturday, November 18, 2006

'Venal, stupid and mendacious'?

I have been resisting commenting on the little rant against bloggers by the Prime Minister's outgoing chief strategy advisor but on re-reading it I thought that it was worth making a single point.

Tom Watson has already underlined the fact that there are many substantial political bloggers who do not fall into Matthew Taylor's characterisation of them. However, if Mr. Taylor is serious in his challenge to bloggers that they should help people "try to understand the real trade-offs that politicians face and the real dilemmas that citizens face" then there is only one way forward. The politicians themselves should embrace the medium and use their own blogs in an interesting and diverse way to inform their electorate about those trade-offs and dilemmas. It is no good lecturing others if you are not prepared to take the plunge yourself.

On the subject of blogs I made a point of listening to Radio Wales' Call to Order on-line shortly after reading Glyn Davies' account of his appearance on the programme. Presenter, Patrick Hannan, in his usual sneering manner read out selected extracts from my blog and that of Tory Leader, Nick Bourne, so as to illustrate his point that we are dealing with trivialities and are not worth taking seriously. It certainly amused my wife anyway.

The point that Patrick missed is that we seek to make our blogs so distinctive because we want to attract interest and so that people will also read the more serious and more political posts. Where is the harm in actually illustrating that politicians are human as well? After all, contrary to the view apparently being expounded by Mr. Hannan, there is more to life than politics, even for politicians!

What I found quite amusing was the reaction of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Leader who, when challenged to agree with Patrick Hannan's point of view, was virtually monosyllabic. I think that he was concerned that he was going to be called upon to defend my blogging activity and was still struggling to come up with a neutral form of words when he was asked something completely different. Form your own judgement, the discussion on blogging is in the last five minutes of the programme.

Despite having introduced me to e-mail many years ago when I was in an extreme luddite phase, Mike is now in denial over the importance of the internet to modern political discourse. Fortunately, he has people around him who will do that sort of thing for him.
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