A British member of parliament is blaming bloggers for the Labour Party’s waning political popularity. Alastair Jamieson at the Telegraph reports Hazel Blear’s sometimes rambling, and always off-target rant against political bloggers:
“The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?
“Until political blogging ‘adds value’ to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair.”
-Hazel Blears, clueless MP
At first, she’s simply complaining that political bloggers are too right-wing for her own personal taste and political affiliation. Then she makes a giant leap of ignorance to conclude that blogging doesn’t bring in new voices, public debate, and legitimate protest.
Is this a classic case of a politician dreaming of a world where the media only works as a PR machine for the established party? Is it just a cognitive dissonance that prevents her from seeing the positive benefits her own party could be taking advantage of if they were so inclined?
Ironically, she attempts to phrase her agenda in terms of ‘common people’ and ‘decentralized power’ while visibly cringing at the sight of common people going on-line and decentralizing the power of official media and political press releases – because frankly, that’s all blogging is – regular people seizing an opportunity for media reach in a format that is still open to competition. An average person cannot start up a newspaper, television, or radio station – but they can easily sign up for blog hosting and write & promote their hearts out until they quit of frustration or become an internet sensation (or probably, something in the middle.)
Politicians might not like blogs, but they could use the technology to get in touch with these ‘common people’ they claim to care about. Unfortunately for the political class, they might actually have to listen to what is being said about them and adapt to what the people want.