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.