Saturday, May 28, 2005

A little fame...

Iron Angle in the Birmingham Post today (not on their website, natch) mentions John H's blog and has clearly had a glance at at least one post on this blog (a big 'Hi' to Paul Dale, if you are still reading) as well as stuff on John's blog. It is a knockabout review of our recent campaign to get John to admit that he is modelling his career on Blofeld (Ernst Stavro the Bond uber-baddie, not Henry the TMS cricket commentator - although Henry's father did unwittingly inspire the naming of the Fleming character, but I digress). Paul also mentions the 'Sutton Coldfield question' and claims that John's utterances are 'Delphic,' which is not exactly the word I would choose.

One line does concern me is that he considers that John has 'enough time on his hands to write a surreal internet blogspot.'

It may come as a shock to members of the Dead Tree Press (apologies, I can't remember who coined this phrase, but I think it may have been Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads who also has this comment about politician's blogs) that the internet isn't just a sideline to the 'real' media any more. John's blog isn't a waste of time. He's an elected representative and legislator and this is a very useful way for him to speak to the community and for the community to yell at him - both unfiltered by press editing. There is an unrehearsed, unspun air about most blogs - he gets the chance to speak his brains and a number of colleagues take pleasure in kicking him around the ether. We've never met and never planned anything about this - it just seems to have evolved this way.

I'll praise John for having the wit and the guts to write the blog and to spend the time glancing at others' views on him and taking the time to comment - it shows a touch of humanity. Would that more MPs could find the time to speak directly to us mere mortals - he's actually gone up in my estimation because of his efforts (no matter how wrong he clearly is on most subjects). Equally, I'll stand up for the councillors who blog - Zoe Hopkins and Bob Piper both contribute comments here and there are many others around the country. [EDIT: I entirely agree with Stuart Bruce's comment that politicians who aren't blogging are failing their electorate.]

Mark Lawson found the full force of the blogging community turned upon him when he reviewed election blogs a few weeks ago. I'm probably guilty of most of the sins that Lawson reports about the blogosphere, but I write because I want to and because I enjoy it. If someone else reads it and enjoys it, that's fine by me - although I'll confess I do watch the stats to feed my own ego. I aim for accuracy in the facts, but the spin, views, arguments and comment are my own (with one eye on the libel laws). They may coincide with Labour policy nationally or locally, they may not - I'm not a mouthpiece for the Labour party and nothing here is inspired by a form letter from a Labour press officer (as revealed by that poor programme on C4 this week that told us what we already knew).

So, don't be put off by the critics, John. You aren't wasting your time. Just remember that Tom Watson did it before you.


Stuart Bruce said...

How true. In fact I would go further and turn the comment on its head. The problem is not that John has 'enough time on his hands to write a surreal internet blogspot' but that more politicians fail there electorate by not doing it. With my professional PR consultant hat on I'm currently writing a report on the issue and I'll be publishing an outline on my A PR Guru's Musings blog later today.

john said...

It takes less time that handling press releases. I have saved a lot of time by asking members of the press to look at my blog.

"Nam et ipsa scienta potestas est"
For indeed knowledge is in itself power.

For knowledge to be valid it has to be based upon truth. The internet is a good arena within which to determine what is truth.

Incidentally for the purposes of parliamentary elections it is arguable that Sutton Coldfield is its own Borough and as a consequence it is not part of Birmingham (note that the seat is not called Birmingham (Sutton Coldfield)).

That is the Sutton Coldfield question.

Bob Piper said...

One of the other interesting points raised by Iron Angle was the secrecy surrounding the vvote for Leader of the Lib dems, and effectively, JH's replacement as Mike Whitby's bag carrier. For a party apparently so committed to openness... they seem reluctant to release the voting figures in the ballot. Who are they trying to protect?

PoliticalHack said...

It may be that Sutton is hived off to run its own affairs - it has been suggested before. However, until that happens, it remains as much of a part of the City of Birmingham (to which they pay their Council Tax and from whom they draw their services) as Yardley or Erdington.

You can argue what you like. Factually, Sutton Coldfield is part of Birmingham. They may be able to weigh the Tory votes at a secure location on their own turf, but at time of going to press, they are part of our City.

Zoe said...

Bob makes a good point about the Lib Dem Leadership though - if the result was that decisive why not be open about it? Or are the other rumours going round the Council House more accurate than what Paul Dale chooses to print?

john said...

You never know, Paul Dale just might print something else tomorrow.

On the other hand he may not as well.