With the Public Administration Select Committee shortly to publish its recommendations from a year-long inquiry into the lobbying industry, now seems like a good time to put the boot in. Should say incidentally that sleazy lobbyists Morgan Allen Moore have told the Association of Professional Political Consultants that they will withdraw from the self-regulation group if Robbie Macduff speaks on the same platform as Guido. Hopefully that is a promise, good riddance to bad rubbish…
Averting the Next Crisis: why transparency in lobbying matters
David Hencke, Westminster correspondent, The Guardian (Chair)
Robbie MacDuff, Chair, Association of Professional Political Consultants
Robert Siddall, CEO, Airport Operators Association
Peter Facey, Director, Unlock Democracy
Prof David Miller, Director, SpinWatch
Guido Fawkes, Westminster blogger
6 -7pm, 5th November 2008
Committee Room 9, House of Commons
Sponsor, John Grogan MP
Contact for further information, stories or comment
Tamasin Cave: Tel: 07973 424 015; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We are witnessing a dangerous corrosion in our political culture… Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a ‘Samizdat’ style. 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?
“But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.
“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.”
Paul Richards, Guido understands, wrote her speech. (Guido has written about him a few times.)
Anti-establishment and occasionally vicious Guido may be, but nihilistic? Never. Nihilists deny that an objective morality exists. Guido has a clear sense of morality – “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Blears really shouldn’t use words she doesn’t understand. Does Blears actually think that Guido rages against political corruption because he cares not for morality?
She is however correct to say that Guido has disdain for political corruption and seeks to unearth scandal and hypocrisy. Does Blears really think that is a bad thing?
Asking political bloggers to “add value” is to misunderstand the relationship between a free press and politicians. Take a memo Ms Blears, we are not here to “add value”, or do what politicians want, Guido has his own values and aims to hit back at political hypocrisy and lies. Politicians make laws, so they should be held to account, to a higher standard. The Nick Robinsons, Peter Riddells, Michael Whites and Steve Richardsons of the world don’t do investigative digging, they report back their impressions from their lunch meetings. They re-package and interpret spin from the party machines. That is how they “add value”. They are what Peter Oborne memorably described as the “client media”.
Guido has, without the platform of a newspaper or broadcaster backing him, achieved a position of influence for some reason. From nowhere this blog has become one of the most widely read political sources in Britain. It reaches a lot of people who were once disillusioned with and disinterested in politics, it is written (on a good day) in an accessible and entertaining way. Why does Hazel think this fuels political disengagement? The Labour Party would love to have a website that engaged as many people as this blog.
What has deservedly brought about disengagement from and cynicism towards politicians is spin, triangulation, focus group derived policies, positioning purely for partisan advantage, vacuous slogans and meaningless promises. Add in personal self enrichment from expense fiddles, petty corruption and barefaced lying to that toxicosis. Hazel has herself personally defended with repulsive sophistry everything from 45 minutes to mass destruction and cash for honours in her time. Who has really fueled corrosive political cynicism? Look in the mirror Hazel.
Can’t help wondering if this plan to ignite the Labour blogosphere isn’t a bit top-down and over-laden with lobbyists and spinners with few grassroots bloggers involved, if it was going to happen it surely would have happened spontaneously already. What hope is there for any authenticity from this crowd?
This video is apparently only the first salvo in their battle to motivate the Labour base:
It is at least mildly amusing and a welcome change from Labour’s earlier online attempts to motivate activists with videos of Ed Balls boasting about achieving child poverty targets. Guido can’t figure out the strategy here. What do they hope to achieve?