Hazel Blears: Political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians
But Cabinet minister Hazel Blears, Mr Dale’s beloved ‘chipmunk’, points her
Cranmer likes the word ‘perceived’. He wonders why she did not refer to alleged scandals or possible conspiracies, for qualifying each noun with an allusion to the realm of fantasy would have better insulated Ms Blears from the disdain which Cranmer is about to manifest towards her.
What happens when the scandal is real, the conspiracy apparent, and the hypocrisy proven? And what does the ordinary voter do when the ‘mainstream media’ refuse to report the facts accurately, but instead are prone to ‘spin’, susceptible to flattery, or await the promise of a ‘K’ or a ‘P’?
Cranmer does not have disdain for the political system, and neither does he hold politicians in contempt. But he is aghast that Ms Blears is intent on blaming ‘right-wing bloggers’ for being the source of all their ills, while the ‘system’ is indeed riddled with corruption, hypocrisy, lies and deception.
Consider this hypocritical concern:
‘And if you can wield influence and even power, without ever standing for office or being held to account by an electorate, it further undermines our democracy’.
Aside from the apparent objection this poses towards certain omnipotent media barons, or even to the Monarch as Head of State, Ms Blears would do well to consider the influence and power exerted by the likes of Lord Mandelson, or even his successor in the EU Commission, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. The former is now the Business Secretary, the latter the EU Trade Commissioner. When did they stand for office? What election did they win? How may the electorate remove them? But what enormous power over our lives they both exert.
Yes, Ms Blears. Such unaccountability does indeed undermine democracy.
But the undermining of democracy is a good thing when that democracy is flawed. For how is democracy ever corrected or enhanced unless there are those who are prepared to undermine the status quo; who are prepared to push at the boundaries of an unjust democratic settlement? Did Emmeline Pankhurst undermine democracy? Did Martin Luther King? Did Mahatma Ghandi? One does not need to resort to bombs, bullets or acts of terrorism in order to challenge the political status quo – and engagement in such is what tarnishes the reputation of icons such as Nelson Mandela (not to mention Guido Fawkes) – but had blogging been around during their campaigns, there is no doubt they would have had a following and a regular readership to rival any mainstream publication.
But Ms Blears also focuses her attention on something with which Cranmer finds himself in complete agreement. She finds the rise of ‘career politicians’ to be ‘deeply unhealthy’. She observes that some of her ministerial colleagues live on ‘planet politics’, with a manifest lack of real-life experience. In the most percipient section of her speech, she said:
"There is a trend towards politics being seen as a career move rather than call to public service. Increasingly we have seen a 'transmission belt' from university activist, MPs' researcher, think-tank staffer, special adviser, to Member of Parliament and ultimately to the front bench. Now, there's nothing wrong with any of those jobs, but it is deeply unhealthy for our political class to be drawn from narrowing social base and range of experience. We need people from a range of backgrounds - business, the armed forces, scientists, teachers, the NHS, shopworkers - to make good laws. And we need more MPs in Parliament from a wider pool of backgrounds: people who know what it is to worry about the rent collector's knock, or the fear of lay-off, so that the decisions we take reflect the realities people face. In short, we need more Dennis Skinners, more David Davises, more David Blunketts in the front line of politics."
Now here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding reflect on this day and night. It is not sufficient (if it ever were) to select parliamentary candidates according to skin colour, gender, sexuality or disability. Any one-legged Muslim lesbians would be a shoe-in for any Conservative safe seat at the moment, irrespective of her life qualifications. But it is a frightening prospect to consider that these one-legged Muslim lesbians will one day have to run the country, and there is no assurance that one’s skin colour, religion or preferred bed-fellow will assist in the arduous task of righteous governance.
Ms Blears concludes: "Unless and until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new and disparate 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 pessimism."
Well, Ms Blears, Cranmer tries to ‘add value’ to our political culture each day, and he does so not out of a destructive disdain, but a wholesome desire to pursue all that is true, noble, right and just. He is concerned with honesty and integrity; with authenticity and reality. He is not concerned to breed cynicism and pessimism, for those who purport to run the country foster this entirely by themselves.
Some ‘right-wing’ blogs may indeed be nihilistic, cynical, pessimistic or corrosive.
But so might some politicians.