I have said little on the so-called Blog Wars between Tim and Guido since my original post on the matter last month in which I predicted, correctly as it has turned out, that the debate would eventually polarise on political lines. Iain Dale has today called for an end to it, but that seems a forlorn hope at present.
As I said at the outset, I'm sitting on the fence on this one, and none of what follows should be construed as taking sides, but I have thought for some time that there is one aspect of this "war" that is deeply misguided, and about which I ought to speak out. This is the apparent attempt to smear Gordon Brown over his links with the Smith Institute, and the resulting revenge attacks on certain Tory bloggers over their links with the Policy Exchange.
The Smith Institute was set up in memory of the late John Smith. Believe it or not, Gordon Brown was very close to John Smith as a politician and still holds very similar ideas to him on a range of issues. Is it therefore a very great surprise that Brown and the Smith Institute have a close relationship? No, any more than it is a surprise that a would-be Conservative MP such as Iain Dale or a would-be Tory Mayor of London such as Nick Boles should be a trustees of a right-wing think tank, the Policy Exchange.
My point is that political think-tanks are a part of the political process, and have been at least since the days of Harold Wilson and Ted Heath. Some of these think-tanks are close to individual politicians. As I said about David Cameron's schoolboy toking earlier today, big fucking deal.
Feb 14 update: That's enough blog wars - Ed. Comments on this thread will remain open, but the main debate is continuing elsewhere and I think I've said what I have to say on the matter for the time being.
I do have some sympathy with Tim Ireland's view that the blogosphere is a community in which people owe eachother some sort of obligation of good behaviour - as a socialist I would make the same argument about society generally - but I also accept that individual bloggers like Guido have a perfect right to run their blogs in the way they choose, and that there is no sense trying to enforce a "code of etiquette" without more widespread consent for that. End of communication.