Blears on blogging: bad timing and bad analysis?

by Stephen Tall on November 6, 2008

Hazel Blears’ speech to the Hansard Society is attracting a fair amount of attention in the blogosphere today, perhaps not surprisingly given the inclusion of this paragraph:

This brings me to the role of political bloggers. 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?

Two Lib Dem bloggers have provided insta-reactions: James Graham at Quaequam Blog! notes Ms Blears’ curious sense of mis-timing; while Matt Bowles at Liberal Conspiracy questions the premise of her statement.

No comments

Well she has a limited point in that the opposition to the government of the day is likely to attract the most attention…i have seen people speculate on Lib Conspiricy that it’s prominence will grow under a Cameron government and I think that is a fair assumption….

by Darrell on November 6, 2008 at 9:53 am. Reply #

Did she really use the term Samizdat?!

But… Um. Eh?!

Is she suggesting that the Labour government is Stalinist?

Or that bloggers are frequently self-published? (Which is surely obvious by the nature of the medium…?)

Or that they are inherently not part of the mainstream media?

If she meant oppositionalist, or similar, she surely should have just said that?

by Mark on November 6, 2008 at 10:16 am. Reply #

The implication from her criticism of “samizdat” is that she doesn’t want people to air their own views; only offical, government-sanctioned ideas should be allowed. Does more or less sum up NuLabour …

by passing tory on November 6, 2008 at 11:37 am. Reply #

If you look at how sites like Tory Troll and Boris Watch, they are scrutinising the new Tory London mayor’s every move, and criticising every slip-up. If the Tories win the next general election, I can imagine this will be what David Cameron will have to contend with from the blogging left.

by Different Duncan on November 6, 2008 at 11:49 am. Reply #

As the party of localism, why aren’t the LibDems more actively raising awareness of the Sustainable Communities Act and it’s implications for local government?

by thomas on November 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm. Reply #

There were several posts about it at the time it came into force, on this blog and a couple of others I think. But it depends what you mean by raising awareness. I suggest the actual implications are most usefully discussed at grassroots level in local parties rather than online, because there’s not a lot the online community per se can do to act on it. Anyone got any anecdotage on local discussion?

by Alix Mortimer on November 6, 2008 at 3:02 pm. Reply #

As someone from Cheshire – where local government is currently being carved up into a weird 2-unitary structure that scarcely anybody in the county wishes to see (courtesy of the relevant Govt minister) – I find Ms Blears (said Govt minister) an unconvincing figure when she seeks to criticise others for undermining democracy ……..

by crewegwyn on November 6, 2008 at 4:33 pm. Reply #

FWIW, I now have the text of the whole speech, and most of it isn’t about blogging.


by Matt Wardman on November 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm. Reply #

“And in recent years commentary has taken over from investigation or news reporting, to the point where commentators are viewed by some as every bit as important as elected politicians, with views as valid as cabinet ministers.”

At school, way back in the last century, the last millennium, we often used to say, “Don’t mock your elders and betters”. It was said sarcastically to mock the idea that those in authority thought they had the birthright on knowledge and intelligence.

How highly unsurprising that Hazel Blears (or any of the other clods and clowns of New Labour) should try to mesmerise us with the nonsense that somehow the halfwits and misfits of this government – or any other – have some greater insight into the world than anyone else.

Perhaps she should try to deliver this speech on an average estate or in a normal pub, just to test whether she can walk away without being lynched.

It epitomises all the empty-headed arrogance of this government. The stupid, spiteful, mindless assumption that the dregs of humanity who currently hold office are, by that simple fact, better and more clever than the rest of us.

Of course, this links nicely with the fact that politicians now seek to determine the careers of public broadcasters, such as Ross and Brand. We shall soon have political vetting of anyone who has a platform to air their views.

The more sinister connection is the one with the Communications Data Bill. This article makes very plain thre aims of government once it gets its hands on our email, telephone, text and internet records.

They will be used against us for political purposes, to stifle dissent, to strangle the voice of people who disagree with the state, to gag us all.

It is easy to laugh at somebody like Hazel Blears, with the idiotic ideas of a nasty, backward adolescent, but it would be unwise.

This is the shape of things to come.

This is the thin, but sharp and jagged end of the wedge, which will be used to split the people forever from the freedoms and civil liberties.

No wonder that a member of New Labour mocks and treats with contempt a cornerstone of democracy, which everyone else rejoices as being enhanced and expanded by the technology of the internet:

Freedom of speech.

No wonder that the lessons are beginning to split us from our safeguards against tyranny and muffle us forever with fear.

Another attempt by the state at terrorising the people into being too scared to raise their voices.

If people do not stand up against this psychotic government as it rages against its inevitable fate in its dying days, we shall all live to regret it.

by Atomboy on November 6, 2008 at 11:22 pm. Reply #

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