Tag Archives: blogging

Paul Flynn a victim of net censorship? Don’t make me laugh

Paul Flynn is crying foul over the Parliamentary authorities’ decision to force him to pay for his own blog. Prior to that, he had tried charging the costs to the taxpayer via the Communications Allowance.

Derek Wyatt has also joined the fray:

“They don’t get in the way of my letters or phone calls, so why do they want to interfere in what I put on the web? They only want me to publish anodyne videos that no one will watch.

“They have got it completely wrong. They don’t understand the net. They simply don’t get it. It is like 1984.”

1984? How does this in any relate to state surveillance and state-sponsored torture?

Let’s be clear about some things: not a single MP is being censored or told what they can and can’t say – the issue is whether they can use Parliamentary expenses to do it. Paul Flynn is apparently shelling out £250 for his not particularly impressively designed Typepad blog. Looking at Typepad’s pricing structure, I can’t for the life of me understand why he is paying more than $50 for the service – so what is the other £180-ish being on?

Peter Black
and Lynne Featherstone‘s blogs doesn’t cost them, or the taxpayer, a penny yet by all accounts is considerably more successful. Reason? They haven’t confused style for content. By arguing the toss over this, the only thing Flynn has achieved is to illustrate an example of the ‘sense of entitlement‘ that Sir Christopher Kelly was warning about last week.

Strictly correct

This article is entirely uninteresting. I only stumbled across it by chance. But one thing about it did excite me: at the bottom there is the following statement:

An earlier version of this story mistakenly suggested that British programmes were responsible for 53% of global television output. The figure actually relates to the increase in sales of British format ideas.

So what you might say. The BBC made a mistake, happens every day. So what? The BBC made a mistake and acknowledged it, instead of simply changing it and airbrushing the mistake out of history.

Is this a one-off or a change in policy? I’ve not noticed any other acknowledgements like this.

It may be sad to get excited by this, but the BBC’s practice of maintaining they are always right, at all times, even when they are totally wrong, is one of the main things that enrages me about it. I’m delighted that after all the Stalinist airbrushings, we are finally starting to see a chink of glastnost.

See also Mark Pack’s take on bloggers’ reporting standards versus traditional media.

A masterclass in missing the Zeitgeist by Hazel Blears

Claims the little one:

In her speech, Ms Blears also complained about a “spreading corrosive cynicism” in political discussion.

She turned her fire on political “bloggers” – accusing them of fuelling disengagement by focusing on “unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy” and of being written by “people with disdain for the political system and politicians”.

“The most popular blogs are right-wing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes,” she said.

But she added: “Unless and until political blogging ‘adds value’ to our political culture, by allowing new and disparate 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 pessimism.”

This on the day that a black man called Barack Hussein Obama won the presidency of the USA with the largest popular mandate anyone has ever achieved in the history in the world, fuelled significantly off the back of social media – of which blogging played a large part.

Startling. Really.

EXCLUSIVE: Should Irfan Ahmed have to pay for what he did?

What is one to make of Irfan Ahmed. As a blogger he has risen from obscurity to become one of the top “celebrities” in the Lib Dem blogosphere. As a person, I know very little of him other than the fact that he lives in Preston and doesn’t like Saj Karim very much. Reading his blog recently, I was particularly struck by this quote:

This is a great point that was made by David as this is definitely what the Electorate is going to look at. They want a Prime Minister and Government that can offer them a good economic package that would benefit the ordinary person and big business, they don’t want a leader or government that will talk and talk about family life and rule out the economy.

Possibly the most exciting thing to discover is that he …

What? You’re still here? Sorry, nothing to see here, I was just hoping to get into the Lib Dem Voice Golden Dozen next week and this seemed like the best way to do it.


REVEALED: the Lib Dem Hive Mind – first pictures

The more eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that I’ve replaced my Politigg buttons with LibDig buttons. Built by LibDem codebodger Ryan Cullen, LibDig has the potential, in my opinion anyway, to be the biggest thing to happen to the Lib Dem Blogosphere since LibDemBlogs (which Ryan also built).

The beauty of LibDemBlogs, unlike anything else out there, is it’s democracy. Anyone who is a party member can have their feed included in the aggregator and as such unknowns can become must reads literally over a couple of weeks. The downside is that it does not seperate the wheat from the chaff, or perhaps somewhat more positively, of highlighting the best of the Lib Dem blogs. That function has been done by Stephen Tall with his weekly Golden Dozen, but even that has its disadvantages as Stephen himself has ruminated about on more than one occasion. It only highlights the most read, which is not neccessarily the best (as someone who has gamed the system simply by using “EXCLUSIVE” in a blog post on more than one occasion, I can testify to that). LibDigs is designed to complement LibDemBlogs rather than replace it by making it easier to find the “best” but in an equally democratic way. I hope that if it proves to be a success, Stephen will start using it for the basis of his five “recommended” posts.

So LibDig is about lauding the best of the Lib Dem blogosphere, but fundamentally it can also be used to recommend anything out there on the internet (Ryan has already built a bookmarklet to make this as simple as possible). And because its membership is restricted to party members (which – another plus – means you only need to use your login.libdems.org.uk login and don’t need to go through yet another registration process), what that means is that over time it can be used to build up a map of what Lib Dems consider to be the best of the internet.

For me, and I suspect many others, that is useful because I’m always looking for a good way to both find out what’s out there and to put things out myself. All social bookmarking websites are only as useful as who is using them. The problem I have with Digg is that its pool is so enormous I don’t get a look in. The problem with Politigg is that it is predominently used by rightwingers with their requisite obsessions about the beastliness of Gordon Brown, the EU and English Parliaments. I’d rather see what people with a similar political outlook to me consider to be important.

So thanks again to Ryan for building it, and I hope as many people as possible out there will begin bookmarking with it and adding LibDig buttons to their blogs (it has already been integrated with LibDemBlogs, LibDemVoice and FlockTogether which should give it a good kickstart). I’m just a little disappointed he didn’t use my suggestion of having a special section about the US Presidential Race called LibDigOnAPig.

I’m a bad person

… I’ve clearly offended Stephen Glenn which I’m truly sorry for as it was meant in a light-hearted way and I wasn’t singling him out by any means. I set up my little Facebook group (which I haven’t invited anyone to join as it was just a mini-rant really) to highlight that some blogger’s content is being obscured by obtrusive headers which get in the way of the content.

If that is what people want, then fine, but I do find it tiresome to click on a link to a potentially interesting article to be greeted by a massive header which doesn’t have anything to do with why I’m visiting the website.

I don’t accept the argument that other bloggers “do not have the size adjustment facilities” since Paintshop is available on every copy of Windows and there are plenty of free resources available such as Gimp (hat tip: Himmelgarten Cafe). Nor do I accept the argument that because you can’t adjust the size of your images your readers should just lump it. But, as a peace offering, here is Stephen’s header adjusted so that it is 200 pixels high (click for full image):

Labour Bloggers: stop the world we want to get off!

Iain Dale seems to be the only person who reads Labour Home, and has come up with a couple of real gems over the past couple of days.

First of all, Recess himself has started thinking aloud about banning Tories from using Labour Home, although he has subsequently clarified that he only means banning them from writing articles. More bizarrely, Labour Matters has started questioning the wisdom of linking to non-TIGMOO blogs, singling out Tom Harris MP as an apple that has fallen too far from the True Labour tree.

Taking the Monkey’s intervention first, it would certainly be a shame. I know that in the past in a work capacity I’ve contributed to the site – not to troll but to bring issues to Labour supporters’ attention (just as we’ve also done on Conservative Home). This policy would mean that Labour supporters would have less opportunity to hear new ideas, thus increasing the likelihood that they will be walking around with bad ones bouncing around in their heads.

What Recess and Matters are both advocating is a virtual pulling up of the drawbridge. Psychologically, this is interesting in terms of what it tells you about the Labour psyche at the moment, and links directly to my post yesterday about Compass. Fundamentally, Labour activists no longer want to reach out – they want to talk (or, more often than not, fight) amongst themselves. A political party that does that is no longer a political party, but a cult. Think along those lines is tantamount to admitting you are not fit to govern.

But fundamentally, this is a question of economics – rarely a Labour strong point. You either believe in free trade or protectionism and this is classic protectionism. By putting up barriers, all Labour activists will achieve is to make it harder for themselves to get their message across on the internet.

Is this really the grand master plan New Statesman paid £50,000 for? And if so, will the likes of Jonathan Calder, et al be getting their P45s in the post soon?


For a trial basis I’ve added Politigg buttons on my blog posts. Although I have a ShareThis hoojamaflip at the bottom of my posts from which you can use any standard social bookmarking website, it doesn’t appear to generate much usage and the appeal of Politigg is that is specifically focuses on politics, which is my field (I’ll add a “geekigg” button as well should one become available).

The problem I have with all these social bookmarking websites is that there are so many of them. With no gold standard, it gets a bit frenetic. So whether I stick with Politigg depends entirely on whether others do the same.

UPDATE: One thing I should add though is that I am intrigued that under ‘political parties’ Politigg offers you the choice of the Libertarian Party and the English Democrats, but not the SWP, Respect or any other established hard left party (no NI parties either). So it is clear where the developers are coming from!