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.


  1. Weird, the Guardian ‘edited extract’ has removed all her (good) stuff on the problem with career politicians and similar.

    It’s a shame that she’s got facts wrong and some weirdly mangled opinions in that speech, as much of it is actually spot on.

    Which given my general opinion of Ms Blears is very hard for me to admit to.

  2. Much though it is my instinct to tell anyone instructing me to add value to fuck right off, I would have thought it quite obvious that 90% of political blogs are incredibly constructive and thoughtful. I don’t know why Iain D didn’t put her down on that point more successfully on the PM prog (unless he wants to maintain the illusion that he and Guido are the only bloggers). Still, let’s go easy on her. She’s probably just sore ever since Lib Dem Voice overtook LabourHome in the Wikio ratings.

    You can’t but laugh at the way that unearthing political scandal and hypocrisy is supposed to be a bad thing.

  3. What Blears said was obviously mealy-mouthed and largely wrong but on the other hand she is right that the opposition to the government of the day is likely to attract the most attention and before people leap on me I can quite clearly recall people on Liberal Conspiricy openly speculating that it would grow under a Cameron government….

    Having said that her basic premise is snootish and as you rightly point out totally missing of the immense good that political blogging can do….and what a positive force it can be…

  4. he wants to maintain the illusion that he and Guido are the only bloggers

    bing bing bing.

    Dale has been repeating the Big Lie that the only successful blogs are right wing for years, and it’s never been true. Political Betting has been top blog since I started, James, ChickYog, Nosemonkey, Bloggerheads all successful at various times and none Tory/right wing.

    Dale doesn’t want the media to realise that his style of gossip/Daily Mailery merely gets him the numbers, Most of us prefer our diverse audiences: I could’ve taken him on for top spot if I’d wanted, but I’d rather have a couple hundred readers I actually know. Which is what I’ve got.

  5. The real issue is that who is at the “top” of the blogosphere is not the blogosphere. The “top” is just the lowest common denominator (or, more pejoritively, “scum floats”).

    What matters more is the long tail. To be fair on Mr Dale, his 2008 poll found that 268 blogs in his top 500 were leftwing and only 170 were on the right, and that is if you, like Iain, categorise all Lib Dem blogs as neither. The total readership of Guido’s blog is exponentially higher than Ben Brogan’s blog (which Dale ranks as number 10). By contrast, I would estimate that blogs 100-500 (and the rest) all have roughly the same numbers of readers. Individually they’re all quite small – in aggregate their influence is significant.

    Obama’s campaign utilised this with tools such as MyBO. I’m not offended by Blears’ remarks, I just think she is groping around the wrong bit of the elephant.

  6. James, I’d appreciate some insider input on the Sustainable Communities Act, which is what she was supposed to be addressing and which Unlock Democracy supports.

  7. That’s great, thanks.
    As a local campaigner there is much in the white paper which is potentially helpful to me, but this will be another wasted opportuinity if we fail to spread the word sufficiently.
    And as someone who is dismayed by my local Labour MP I really don’t want the wider politically-interested community to languish in the dark about the powers which are within our grasp.
    There is a massive irony in the way which the blogoshpere has responded cynically to Blears’ cynical comments about our cynicism rather than focussing on the substantive issues at stake in the white paper she was ostensibly trying to promote!
    I sincerely hope more bloggers will be able to dissect the real content of the white paper from the bones of the reporting on the speech.


  8. Hi James.
    I notice there is some discussion over the direction of LC (eg at Moments of Clarity), and that Sunny’s basic complaint is that LibDemmers don’t contribute as much as he would like – it seems you have a standing invitation.
    In this vein, can I ask you to submit an updated version of your comment as a concluding article on the CiC series – you are definitely best qualified for this task among the bloggers I’ve read (I culled much of my knowledge on the subject from Unlock Democracy).
    I notice that 39 councils have now signed up to the proposals and this would definitely keep the pressure up.

  9. I’d like to contribute more to LC, but time is always a factor. Intend to make it a new year’s resolution.

  10. James, as I’m still subbed to this post. When I write for LC, I specifically write a post for LC, and sometimes link it from mine with a post about the writing of the post, or sometimes “stuff I couldn’t fit in” or similar.

    But a lot of others just crosspost stuff from their own blog, without even any additional editing. A lot of your stuff, especially the constitutional reform stuff, would work there straightaway.

    I really ought to go through my NLE/VTX archives and dig out some old posts to update ont he basics of reform, many of them were really good but for a different audience/time.

    If you just crosspost the occasional ‘article’ entry, that’d be useful.

    (Also, your comment box comes before the form to fill ID details in, but is set afterwards in the carat flow, fine if you’ve already got them auto-filled, but I didn’t for some reason, hitting tab took me direct to submit, completely forgot I could shift-tab back, had to get the mouse 🙁 )

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.