Perhaps one of the quickest ways to make enemies is to;
a) Become a national politician
b) Write your own blog based on local and national politics
The first option was never a consideration for me, but point b) was considerably within my grasp. Since then, I have penned 350 posts (about 4 per day), said some pretty cutting things about people (fair enough), had some pretty cutting things said about me (fair enough), been warned about going into certain Cleadon village pubs (didn’t stop me) and pretty much sailed close to the line a few times. I have also regretted the odd post, especially where the satirical zeal went a bit to far. However, I have always felt that the underlying truth was always apparent.
However three main things have emerged from the Rise Like Lions prose;
1) I have had a great time and been introduced to some wonderful fellow posters.
2) At a regional level, it is the only area where constructive opposition takes place.
3) I have met and spoke to some very honest people who I think I will maintain links with for a very long time.
In a nutshell, this little bit of nostalgic musing leads to the conclusion that I have emerged pretty much unscathed and learned a lot along the way.
Could the same however, be said for other followers and participants of what is really only a way to express your political, cultural and personal feelings. Lets take for example a certain Paul Staines, or Guido Fawkes as he is more commonly known in the posting world. I have followed Guido’s (I shall happily call him that as it has more exciting connotations than Paul) comments for over a year now and have never come across a person who is either on the one hand quoted out of existence, or on the other, despised with a venom worthy of an unnatural fixation. His own site specialises in political innuendo, humour, gossip and tittle-tattle, mostly all with a small vein of truth in them and mostly all anti Labour (oh yes, he’s also a Tory). If I had to tag a banner to his site it would be a “Nuts” version of “Private Eye.” This is fine by me, when most fathers left the Racing Post, Mirror or Times lying around for his children to read, we Shaw’s had Ingram’s Private Eye. For many years I actually thought Wilson and Heath really did have speech bubbles coming out of their mouths and that E.J. Thribb was a poet! Guido however, has little such sentiment attached to his name. I have been surprised by the number of sites that have been set up to actually attack on a daily basis what he prints. Most are pretty nasty, the majority absolutely horrid. An interview with Michael White from the Guardian shown on Newsnight is often used by the “anti’s” to justify their cause; I just found it a amusing, and had a sneaky feeling that Mr White, though a very good journalist, was a little bit miffed that “bloggers” are usurping the privileged position of sketch writers etc. Perhaps this is the crux of the “hang Guido” camp; he is doing the job that the media can no longer deliver on.
Guido recently posted on the birth of his child; somebody commented “are you sure it’s yours”. Now that’s personal and insulting, and has nothing to do with his political views. This is the opposite of the experiences I have had (though one commentator went beyond the point of decency, but only one) and whilst I hardly ever agree with what he has to say, Mr Fawkes should be allowed to fight his own little corner to any degree he wishes. As to all the other “Fawkes” who post, the same applies to them. I come across on a daily basis many on line diaries that I consider insulting and quite degrading, but I have the choice as to whether I return to them.
I once heard Paul Foot and Tony Benn speak at a pro miners meeting when the pit closure programme was announced. The subject drifted (as it always does at left wing meetings) to the issue of extreme right wing politicians, Mosley and Enoch Powell being mentioned by name. Foot, whilst stating he did not share his views, said he would have defended Powell’s right to air them to the hilt. Benn, pointing out that he had heard Mosley speak and considered him a great orator but an obnoxious man, spoke with a similar sentiment. Sometimes, a little bit more of this is needed in the posting world. Speak your mind, but stick to the issues, stick to the politics and stick to the policies. It’s also OK sometimes to have a laugh; we have built a political opposition in this country on such an approach (Punch and Private Eye being the best examples). Humour is a great leveller, and it also exposes the issues that surround many a political problem.
I have used Guido because he is a good example of the argument outlined. His web site is highlighted below with an “anti” listing in the interests of balance. However, there are hundreds of such similar conflicts listed on the web.
Now, where’s that George Elsom and Irene Lucas sketch I was writing!