Thursday, 24 January 2008

A UK first?

Roy Greenslade asks the question:
"Is Guido Fawkes responsible for Britain's first genuine
blogging scalp with Peter Hain's ministerial resignation?"

And points out that Guido Fawkes/Paul Staines
makes a passing mention of his possible involvement in the tonsuring while asking:

"Is this the first example of a blogger supplanting Fleet Street?
A good question given the realities of politics and journalism ... but one that for some reason hacks me off.

And not just because I've been reminding myself of the glory days of Ian MacIntyre and John Birt in
David Hendy's excellent history of Radio 4. I was a rebel, honest.

Of course, bloggers have been supplanting Fleet Street (columnists) for a couple of years now -
sorry Simon - you really don't get the best venom on paper any more nor do you have to pay for it.

Question is, have bloggers usurped Fleet Street's right to fuel palace coups or court culls - aka make the kitchen so hot the only sensible way is out? Answer is, no. Fawkes/Staines may have known (roughly) where the petrol cans were ... but it was only when the mainstream started waving them over their heads that it got dangerous for Mr Hain.

Test is this: who'd have cared if Fawkes/Staines was wrong? Or ... alongside the Hain 'scalp' how many missed crania are there? Possibleymore than one and perhaps up to many.

But back to the coups/culls. I really do understand the thrill of it - I've had my share and there's something undoubtedly satisfying about tucking the bloodied follicles under your belt. It's exciting, fulfilling, endorsing, validating. I really do understand it.


It can't be right, can it? Being a watchdog is one thing - waking voters up to those things the elected have done in their name. Reminding the people that they own the power, not those they lend it to.

But ... do watchdogs scalp those they watch? Isn't that up to voters? Is this kind of pressure exerted by a handful of journos on a single individual, an uncertain and increasingly insecure Prime Minister, really what democracy is about? Or what voters want it to be about?

Actually, the thing that really hacks me off is that it never seems to me that many political journalists - and now bloggers - see this side of their trade as anything more than or other than a game.

They use the language of democratic accountability to describe something that looks to those on the outside (ie voters, citizens - sorry, subjects - people, you, me) like a round of British bulldog in which they're not asked to play.

I said something like this
here back in April:
"From what I see of the successful political blogs - let's take Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes for instance - they replicate the inward looking, metropolitan chumminess of the Westminster village that many in the audience find repellent in both politics and political journalism."

Fawkes/Staines pinged back:
"it is only a blog, and it is intended to entertain not save the world."
Or change it. But that was then. This is now.


Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

You know I worry about this, it is the reason that I don't go to the book launches and miss out on so many opportunities for a canape and a glass of champagne. I am not going to join the club or make friends in the Lobby.

It is however a blog about Westminster goings on. It is narrow casting on a specialist subject. I write to be read by the politico-media nexus. I write to inflict pain on politicians, I write for my own egotistic pleasure. There is no higher purpose.

It is a by-product that it has become commercially successful.

I hope that I have not joined the village, and every now and then when Nick Robinson or someone claims that I am, I shit on the village green to make sure they know that is never going to happen.

Anonymous said...

He is not independendet he joined the tories at university. And he helped arm the contras by his own admission and he talked to intelligence services bosses when he was in his twenites. Hardly someone from outside the establishment He is just a right wing propaganda merchant. No more a independent than any tory.