Opinion: Bloggers have enriched political

John Prescott usually blames 'the hostile media' for negative stories about him, but now he has found a new enemy and is blaming the bloggers.

The Deputy PM conveniently forgets it was he, not the bloggers, who had an extra-marital affair with an aide and met a millionaire at his ranch. That said, the role of the weblogs in Prescott's likely demise cannot be denied.

It was the blogger Paul Staines, a Tory who writes under the pseudonym Guido Fawkes, who named another alleged lover of John Prescott. And this led directly to John Humphrys last week asking him an embarrassing six times if he had had a second affair.

The night before, Jeremy Paxman had been interviewing another right-wing blogger, Iain Dale, on further allegations surrounding Prescott.

For the first time in Britain, bloggers are setting the political agenda and, I would argue, enriching the political debate. This is not, however, the view of the Westminster lobby: old-school journos who see their traditional role as ‘opinion leaders' being threatened by these online upstarts.

The BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, a former young Tory, recently joined the debate, accusing the bloggers of having a political agenda of their own. Well of course they do!

Even more surprising, David Hencke of The Guardian has also been critical of the bloggers, when his paper actively encourages the practice.

Significantly, all the lobby hacks knew about Prescott's love life, but until the bloggers came along it remained under wraps. This smacks of a conspiracy of silence, so if the bloggers don't play by the rules it might not be a bad thing.
Whatever the establishment thinks, young people today get nearly all their political information from the internet. Blogging is the future, and politicians who don't embrace it will fail.

I find it even more fascinating that it is the Tory party who are making the most effort to use the internet to their advantage. Meanwhile, from New Labour we get the world's most boring blog from David Miliband and a dreary World Cup diary from Alastair Campbell, in which he continued his feud with Auntie. Incidentally, he must be the only man in Britain to think ITV's coverage was the best.

Yes, David Cameron's team has even been to the US to see how the Republicans have used the internet to such good effect.

Prescott looks like he's on his last legs, and who knows, bloggers may yet play a part in the fall of the whole Labour government. Unless, that is, we hear from some half-decent left-wing bloggers in the meantime.

charlie.whelan@haynet.com

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