Not sure I agree Hazel
Usually I agree with Hazel Blears but I'm not sure I do when it comes to her comments yesterday on blogging:
"We are witnessing a dangerous corrosion in our political culture... Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a 'Samizdat' style. The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?"But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy." Until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair."
I think this rather misses the point. If politicians didn't misbehave, Guido wouldn't have anything to write about. He reflects public cynicism about the political class - largely self-inflicted by politicos who have behaved badly - rather than generating it. People read Guido in large numbers because he breaks stories which mainstream journalists or their editors are too risk-averse to run with, and because it is an entertaining, funny read. Blaming Guido for cynicism about politics sounds like the MacMillan era Tories blaming That Was the Week That Was and Private Eye for public disrespect post-Profumo.
Guido's personal attacks on the PM are deeply unpleasant - and for Labour supporters like me actually reinforce our sympathy and loyalty to the man - and his commenters are often from the loopier fringes of the right, but his own politics aren't nihilistic, as far as I can work out he is a libertarian, which is a legitimate philosophy to hold even if I disagree with it.
The vast majority of blogs are not "written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians" - mainly they are written by people who are part of the political system or politicians themselves. Unfortunately, the majority of this majority of blogs are painfully dull so no one reads them, whereas Guido at least entertains and informs his audience so people do read him.
The irony is that Hazel's forthright opinions would actually make her a brilliant blogger who people would want to read and comment on.
Labour people need to get stuck in start blogging if they don't like the existing culture of the blogosphere, rather than strike this kind of despairing note.