The Hollow Men

In between criticising the mainstream media, many bloggers admit that given the chance they would like to be columnists on a broadsheet newspaper (that is, if the term hasn’t yet lost its meaning in this age of “compacts” and “berliners”). Some, however, seem to be setting their sights a little lower while the rest of us are looking at the stars.

A case in point being the recent actions of Guido Fawkes and Recess Monkey. Last week they apparently published a podcast of their dried voices discussing political gossip. When Mark Oaten subsequently resigned from the Lib Dem’s leadership race, and then from the party’s front bench due to tabloid allegations, Guido for one gleefully claimed the credit announcing that “Its the pod what did it”; although surely that should read “it’s the ‘cast what did it”? Either way, although I have been aware of Guido’s blog for a while I’ve never really read it, and now I know why. Some bloggers want to be a Monbiot or a Krugman, other clearly fancy themselves as a 3am girl. Well each to their own.

Guido’s argument is that his blog is a tabloid affair, the stuff of gossip and rumour mongering; and if that was all then I could happily just ignore him and I wouldn’t be writing this post. What I find difficult to ignore is how someone can so proudly claim responsibility (erroneously I suspect) for the week’s events. It is one thing to revel in tittle-tattle, quite another to cheerfully gloat about your own part in potentially destroying another man’s career and family life. Whatever gives you a rosy glow, I guess.

Oaten is of course largely the author of his own destruction, and it is wrong to lose sight of that. If you have such a skeleton in your closet, and yet still run for the leadership of your party knowing what you know about the press in this country, then you have got to expect a bit of trouble; it is certainly a high-risk strategy. The primary reason I have not made myself rich and famous is because the last thing I want to come back and haunt me is the fact that I spent much of the ‘eighties poking badgers with spoons; I won’t be running for high office.

But who is really the more unpleasant character here; Oaten or Guido? For example, take two people, one who says in private that “I think that Quinn is a twat”, and another who comes up to me and says, “X says he thinks you’re a twat”. I may not personally like the first person but he is perfectly entitled to his opinion, while the second is a sneak who should be shunned by all. If my analogy reminds you of the school playground, then that is little wonder.

In his comments on Chicken Yoghurt, Guido explains his raison d’etre thusly

To follow the money, hypocrisy and dishonesty of those who want to be our masters in an amusing accessable populist tabloid fashion. The whole lobby keeping secrets thing undermines democracy. A pox a the lot of them

So he is doing this for us, and in defence of democracy, is he? Well I’m all for holding politicians to account, I have a pretty low opinion of them myself, but I’d rather criticise them for their policies and public pronouncements than for what they do in their private lives, which has fuck all to do with their competence as elected representatives.

Guido is entitled to say what he likes, but I can’t see the point in having a pop at politicians for being sleazy when all you are doing is engaging in sleazy mudslinging yourself. I don’t understand the idea of setting yourself up as some sort of anti-establishment rebel attacking “our masters” if you are then going to defend your blog on the grounds that it is “popular”, with a “six-figure readerships per month”, and to dismiss “most of the criticism” you receive because it only comes “from bloggers with 7 readers”*. What’s that about “the slave begins by demanding justice…”?

The final word though must go to Guido, from the comments on his own blog. He advises those who don’t like his style to “Fuck off and read the Indy”. Now that sounds like an excellent idea. With luck our paths won’t cross again.

*Guido can’t be referring to me here, as I still aspire to getting seven readers; although I love each and every one of you.

This whole sordid business could put me off blogging, but that would be quite wrong, for while Guido is raising his glass to celebrate his own part in wrecking a family, Occupied Country, in two posts, opens his heart over the recent trials involving himself and his parents. It is moving and humbling to read Steve’s posts; it shows just how blogging can be a sharing and (hopefully) cathartic exercise, and reminds you of how there are much more important things to be concerned about. Best wishes, Steve, to you and your family.