Monday, September 06, 2004

Asking for a halt

Is it just me or is the political blogging scene here in the UK getting incredibly self-referential? When I started – just six months ago – it still didn’t seem to have that many advocates. Trail blazers were few on the ground and the debate seemed informed.

How though it all seems to have gone over the top. While I supported Bloggerheads’ call to arms to encourage our elected representatives to take blogging up, it now seems to have spawned out of control.

‘Stalking’ an MP by setting up a blog in their name was a good idea, if only to emphasise to the individual in question that there was a space out there with their name on it – literally. And in some cases they provide a service by informing logged-on people what their MP is up to.

But what about when an MP or prospective MP takes up the challenge? Should they be left to get on with it? Take the blog of Lib Dem candidate Jody Dunn in Hartlepool. She’s doing one while there is another which claims to shadow what’s she’s doing but is clearly against what she stands for. Similarly there are the campaigning blogs like Labour Watch and Lib Dem Watch who are scrutinising the parties, from a biased starting point.

The Hartlepool by-election has seen a proliferation of blogs over the last month, many of which no longer seem to be interested in engaging with the campaign or (except in a few honourable cases, like Guacamoleville) reporting upon it. In fact some seem more interested in making the news – or what they think passes for it – including the idea that Jody Dunn shouldn’t be elected for having a web domain based in Germany. As the satirists at Comical Tommy point out, how can you parody something when the reporting is beyond a joke?

I’m beginning to get concerned that whereas before blogging offered a welcome addition to the political stew and could perhaps reach parts not yet reached, in a large part it’s gone off in its own directionless tangent. Anyone trying to follow the Hartlepool by-election solely by blog would find it to be almost utterly different to that being thought in the conventional press or in the street.

I wonder what others think…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Purple powder attacks - what better justification for bigger secuirty screens in the house of commons?
Attack blogs - what better justification for MPs avoiding this channel?
Negative polictics - what better way to alienate the electorate?

Tim Ireland