The BBC has Nick Robinson, Mark Mardell, SKY Adam Boulton & Co, The Telegraph its brand new ‘Three Line Whip’, the Spectator its ‘Coffee House’ (an inspired and most apposite title). More will surely follow, the good, the bad and the indifferent. The Times offering is much more anodyne, more a simple extension of their ‘Comment’ section, as is that of The Guardian. With this sort of competition, can any but the most hardy survive for long?
I am taken with this from Matthew d’Ancona in the Guardian in which he notes the sprightly condition of blogging on the Right but its largely comatose state on the Left and wonders how right-wing blogs might fare when there is a conservative government in power.
I believe his conclusion to be the correct one. I am particularly taken with this observation:
The old approach is to agree a line at party central and enforce it ruthlessly. The new culture encourages scepticism, scrutiny, transparency and relentless freedom of political expression.
Political bloggers and their growing number of fans do not take their cue from those in authority. Quite the opposite, in fact: they trust “peer-to-peer” recommendation, not hierarchy.
He points to how, unlike the left, the right has blossomed online and how it strikingly does not follow the party line. I think there is a reason for that. In this country at least those traditionally support Labour are far more inclined to follow the party line, in or out of government, for they have habits of ’solidarity’ (for which read ‘the bovine and the ovine’) underlain by a plank of party discipline that has never really been part of the Conservative tradition.
On the right, by contrast, there is a fierce tradition of independence which is simply part and parcel of a conservative’s belief in and espousal of the concepts of freedom: free speech, the free market, the independence of our nation and all the other indicia of the true radical conservative.
Thus I am sure that d’Ancona is right when he anticipates that even if Cameron comes to power we shall still be here, asking the questions:
Of course, there will always be spin doctors and political control freaks. But they are now up against an uncontrollable force in the cacophonous glory of the web, the fabulous anarchy of the political bloggers, networkers and wiki-folk. This is the new media breed who will play a seminal role in the politics of the 21st century. Those who ignore it – or try to take it on – face a very rude awakening.
For my own part I have, since Cameron got a grip on himself in the autumn, have adopted a self-denying ordinance not to criticize too harshly (save on the matter of the EU where I will not be silenced), for no other reason than to see the back of this corrupt and incompetent government which has done and is doing so much harm to the very fabric of our nation. But that is my choice, not one dictated to me from above.
When Cameron comes to power, as I believe he now will, then we shall see how the left’s attempts at blogging develop. It may well be that the presence of a Tory government will kick-start them into action, thought they will have a fair bit of catching up to do. But I also suspect that they will make the right’s criticism of Cameron and Cameroonism look like a walk in the park, for there is nothing quite like the internecine warfare of the Labour party in opposition as we saw in the 1980s.
For when we finally eject this grubby lot of shysters and nincompoops from office, I suspect we shall see a reckoning between Brownites, Blairites and the hard left which will make Major’s little problems with the Eurosceptics look like something positively benign. Much of the left’s ire will, initially, be directed at themselves. And when they have finished cutting each other’s throats they will then turn on those in charge of their party for either being not left-wing enough or insufficiently interested in power or whatever.
Blogging really was not around in the early years of Blair. One wonders what impact it would have had on the Conservative party of 1997-2001 had it existed as it now does. Now blogging is much more developed it is likely to have a significant effect, particularly on a party newly-weakened by its ejection into opposition.
As to our future, surely we should believe as conservatives that a little competition is a good thing?
There is also this, also in The Coffee House.