Saturday, November 18, 2006

Who's a 'venal, stupid, mendacious politician' then.

I read on BBC Online today that Mathew Taylor has launched an extraordinarily intemperate attack on the 'blogasphere'. I am not in the least bit surprised that Tony Blair's retiring Chief Strategy Officer is frustrated by the way the political 'spin machines' are losing control of news management as a result of the growth of political discussion on the internet. He really allowed his frustration to show through. He talks about 'the shrill discourse of demands' that dominate modern politics - as if it hasn't always been the same. The difference today is that it isn't only politicians who can do it. Everyone can - on the internet. Mathew Taylor bemoans the fact that the media portrays an image where 'leaders are out there to shaft you'. That is just what other political leaders have always done. What's new is that it isn't just the official media - which can be controlled through the licence fee or by threats to cut off the supply of information. Its anyone with access to the internet. Taylor goes completely over the top when he says that blogs are 'hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are'. If that is what they did, no-one would read them.
The truth is that there is probably more mendacity in the world of politics than is posted on the Nation's blogs - and always has been. But it has been a game that the media has been a part of. I see it every day in the National Assembly and I suspect it is miles worse in Westminster. The rubbish that gets published - straight off party's official press releases!! Today, anybody can say what they actually think - within the bounds of reason and decency. And then there is the ultimate test. If it is not believed, it won't be read. The 'blogaspere' is giving politics back to the people and Mathew Taylor's successor had better get used to it.

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