Friday, November 17, 2006

New Labour, New Media

Some fairly heavy shit on Guido's blog at the moment about the impact of new media on the relationship between politicians and the public, following some rather unwise comments by departing No 10 policy wonk Matthew Taylor.

Blaming the internet for fuelling the "crisis" between politicians and voters, Taylor said: "The big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years [is] basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, and mendacious politicians are."

As usual, New Labour is trying to have it both ways. After all, as my old lobby colleague Nick Assinder has noted, the Government is currently playing about with new media like an excited child who has just discovered computer games.

Environment Sec David Miliband has his famous taxpayer-funded blog, the Downing Street website has its new e-petitions functionality and Mr Blair this week staged an online interview, mediated by the politically-balanced pairing of old leftie Will Hutton and youngish Tory Anne McElvoy.

I don't blame Downing St for trying to harness the power of Teh Interwebs, but surely they should not complain when the public, and specifically political bloggers, do the same.

Mind you, up against twisted genii like Tim Ireland who are prepared to do this sort of thing, you can maybe see why they are so afraid.

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7 comments:

Mike Ion said...

I just do not understand why Matthew Taylor did not also take the opportunity to outline how blogs could move beyond the 'cyber gossip' mode and develop into a positive political tool. I agree that the influence of blogs is over-hyped but I also feel that blogs have huge potential as an additional means of 'doing' politics - internationally, nationally, regionally and locally.

Anonymous said...

The e-petitions functionality on the No10 website is a joke.

Surely they should have seen it coming that they would be bombarded with nonsense petitions, and its downgraded the serious points that people are making by allowing them.

Its not secure neither, many signatures are T.Blair, Mickey Mouse etc. Bodes well for the nationa identity register!

Its like they've never used the web before, has this government done anything good using I.T?

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RedEye said...

McElvoy isn't a Tory. She describes herself as centre-left (or she did in one of her articles a few years ago). She also comes from a Labour supporting family in the north-east (though her accent is largely Received Pronunciation, possibly acquired at Oxford).

Paul Linford said...

Red Eye

My admittedly slightly dodgy authority for describing McElvoy as a Tory was none other than Charlie Whelan. Late one night at a party conference a few years back, I was party to a heated debate between Whelan and McElvoy in the bar of the Highcliffe Hotel, Bournemouth. It concluded with Whelan saying: "Anne, you're a fucking Tory, now piss off."

Raymond said...

I do hope that your quoted petition doesn't necessarily detract from serious petitions like the Home Educating Rights one. I've signed it, and I would urge everyone who doesn't want a totalitarian state to do likewise.

RedEye said...

It sounds very much Whelan, though the adjective had no more authority (or factual basis) than the one he allegedly used in connection with Tom Watson, ie a 'f***ing c**t'

I'm glad his 'don't believe it' colun in the New Statesman was discontinued, because it was just so predictable - whatever happened just proved that Gordon was absolutely wonderful, while Blair was bad.

If Blair is tarnished by his association with the likes of Mandelson, Campbell and Reid, then Brown is equally tarnished by his association with a foul-mouthed bully and hanger-on like Whelan (not to mention all the mediocrities like his near-namesakes Nick 'Newcastle' Brown, who was so useless as Agriculture Minister during the foot and mouth crisis, and Des Browne, one of the most lightweight Defence Secretaries in recent years, looking even less suited to the office than Hoon).

I used to really enjoy when Andrew Pierce got the better of Whelan (as he frequently did) on R5's Sunday Service.

The barrow boy geezer manner is even more of a joke when he went to a public school - it's almost as if he fancies himself as some sort of centre-left Jim Davidson, a would-be cheeky chappy who's really just a malevolent bore.