Saturday, 18 December 2010

Why do we do this?

There has been much debate - and a modicum of understandable schadenfreude - at the departure of well-known "right-wing" bloggers from the scene. Most recently has been the departure of Iain Dale mostly it seems to me in preference for other more interesting and more lucrative activities.

I was struck by this little comment from Paul Evans, where I think he comes close to understanding why bloggers find it hard to sustain their activity especially when it is subject to constant attack by those - from all sides and with a range of motivations. With the compulsory (for left-wing bloggers) snide sideswipe at Nadine Dorries, Paul says:

Tom H, Nadine and Iain have distinguished themselves by being more-active-than-average online. None of them have been able to do the useful things that social media allows them to do - at least in part -because the personal engagement crowds out the political / policy conversation (though I suspect Nadine would just be a little puzzled by the concept in the first place). If you place yourself in full view online, you leave yourself open to disruption. Keep quiet and you don't.

The question for those in the 'public eye' is whether to take the risk of conversation - the whole point of social media - or remain aloof. Most politicians and political celebrities do not engage with the process - they give their opinion (very carefully) and refuse to engage beyond that point. Blogging allows the conversation to take place but, as I often point out about this blog, politicians cannot take the risk of allowing a conversational free-for-all since your comment on my blog is as likely to offend, upset or be exploited as my own thoughts.

To be quite honest we do this for selfish - rather preening - reasons. As a politician I am opinionated - indeed an unopinionated politician would be decidedly oxymoronic. Blogging and social media provide a platform for me to get my opinion across - whether that opinion's about the national debt, the clearing of snow or the winner of X-Factor. More importantly, having an opinion is what I'm good at - it is my special talent and the world is better for everyone to have the chance to hear my opinion. Or maybe I'm just an arrogant git with a big mouth!

What I do know is that something may come along that grabs my attention, engages my interests, even excites...and then, like all those others who have quit blogging, I'll be off. Until then I afraid you'll have to put up with me!



Paulie said...

I think it's a really important question though. My train of reasoning is....

1. Representative democracy is the best form of government yet found.
2. The focus on personal conduct over ideological content - combined with the 'Prisoners Dilemma' in which both parties attack each other when they appear to be 'split' or in any way indecisive (trans: thoughful)
3. Democracy is being diminished because all other spheres of public life are becoming more interactive while elected representatives often stand frozen with fear
4. Poorer forms of government (direct democracy - referendums, diktat from media owners and pressure groups of all kinds, etc) are stepping into the vacuum.

If this happens, it could be a disaster for us - especially at a moment when the west is in competition with states that are getting more coherent and effective without much regard to democracy or human rights. The Russian people - after all - decided that they preferred an efficient semi-dictatorship to the highly compromised democracy that they had in the 1990s.

It may be one of the biggest challenges facing us: How do we game-change the relationship with politicians so that they can be reasonably conversational without getting totally screwed.

Sean O'Hare said...

A much greater loss than that of Iain Dale (who seems to be still blogginy anyway) is the announcement today that the fabulous Grumpy Old Twat (Gotty)

is calling it a day. Get over there and get him to change his mind!