Friday, September 03, 2010

Free Speech, Tory Bear & Michael White

I thought you might like to listen to the 35 minute phone in we did last night on LBC on the Hague story. We tried to concentrate on the free speech angle and asked if there should be limits to free speech on the internet. I started off by interviewing Harry Cole aka Tory Bear about the way the story came to light (I think he thought I was rather aggressive) and then talked to Michael White of The Guardian. Among the callers to the programme was swear blogger Old Holborn, who turned out to be a complete pussy cat.

I'm not sure Tory Bear liked my first question, which was this: "Harry, you spent the night in the same bedroom, and indeed the same bed, in a hotel after Shane Greer's wedding. Did you have sex?" He did, however, have quite a good reply.

Listen HERE.


Tory Bear said...

I hereby resign as Special Advisor to Mike Rouse.

davidmorris said...

Thanks for making this available. It was very interesting. You make a good point about the responsibility of bloggers. Guido's style (in that post at least) gives blogging a bad name.

However, there are many other blogs that have a different tone and are more supportive of Hague. This won't create any problems for political bloggers in the long term.

I've gone into detail about the Hague/Myers/Guido issue here.

Old Holborn said...

Iain, I've got Mossad on the phone about that trip you went on to Israel. Something about a donkey, some axle grease, a kosher chicken and some damage to a hotel room in Tel Aviv

Newmania said...

Iain do you intend to sleep in the same room as this new very young employee of yours ? It might be handy for polling ,getting to grips with a post or teasing a column into shape , you know...hands on work .

Or do you think that might be unwise ?

Unsworth said...

@ davidmorris

"You make a good point about the responsibility of bloggers."

Which is what, exactly?

"gives blogging a bad name"

How so? Does blogging have some sort of ethical or professional code which is internationally accepted and enforced? For that matter does it have a 'good name' or, indeed, any 'name' at all?

I really do think it extraordinary that people strolling around in the badland territory of the Internet feel that there are (or should be) Codes of Practice and behaviour. The Internet is not governed and in my view the real (and extreme) danger is that some people are clearly determined that it should be. Naturally these control-freaks would wish to be the people doing the governing, as they know best - of course.

There's a simple solution, which is that if you don't like the content of a site don't go there. It's a matter of personal choice. Nobody forces anyone to go to a particular web-site. This hoo-hah about Guido is garbage. There are far worse things elsewhere - try some of the religious extremist sites for a taster.

The whole point is that Guido is running a popular site - thus people are choosing to visit and comment or not, as they see fit. It's about Free Speech (whatever that may really mean these days). We should not give up a single one of our fundamental freedoms just because some people are offended or take offence at what is posted in various quarters.

In this particular case Hague is (or certainly should be) well capable of looking after himself. He's chosen his battleground. He didn't actually have to say a word. Clearly he feels that he wants to. In my view he could have been much better advised.

It's a rough tough world out there on the Net, but I'm damned if I'll allow self-interested and self-important jerks to 'protect' me. I'm a big boy now and can make my own decisions.

anne riddle said...

Just listened to your lbc discussion and would like to say that I posted a comment on Guido's blog stating that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for most of the comments.It seems that they didn,t consider the possibility of William Hague being driven to consider resigning.This would be a tragedy.

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

I wish to state categorically that I have often shared a bed with Tory Bear and that he is a much better **** than Iain Dale...

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

@ davidmorris

You appear to be falling into the ‘holier than thou’ trap in your criticism of Guido.

The reality is he is a blogger that gets the scoops and runs with them (remember Hain, McBride etc. etc.) - invariably they are the stories that our glorious and fearless Lobby Journalists (not to mention the rest of the MSM) turn a convenient blind eye to.

The fact that the Hague sexuality issue had been swirling around for years and never picked-up on is testimony to this. Interestingly, Guido only ran with it when it became a nepotism story – the ‘is Hague Gay?’ element was actually a side issue to the story (albeit a major one for William Hague).

Politics can be murky, as can some elements of the blogosphere, but Guido certainly isn’t.

PS: Checked out your link and you have a typo at paragraph 3, line 2.

Mike Rouse said...

So I lose a very capable SpAd as a result of this?! How is this fair?!

davidmorris said...

He gives bloggers a bad name because at the moment, there are many sections of the population that consider blogs to be amateurish (in terms of quality) and unreliable. Guido (in this particular case at least) doesn't help.

@Faceless Bureaucrat:
Thanks for telling me about the typo. It's fixed now.

Gareth said...

Unsworth said: "I really do think it extraordinary that people strolling around in the badland territory of the Internet feel that there are (or should be) Codes of Practice and behaviour. The Internet is not governed and in my view the real (and extreme) danger is that some people are clearly determined that it should be. Naturally these control-freaks would wish to be the people doing the governing, as they know best - of course."

I agree wholeheartedly. It seems to me that liberty and personal responsibility absolutely terrify some people to the point where they would seek to deny it to others as well as themselves.

No one need be responsible for anything I say except for myself. To be otherwise *is* to begin restricting what can be said and by whom. The natural creep of authority ensures that is a slippery slope.

Span Ows said...

great post, great comments...

HampsteadOwl said...

If we all adopted Michael White's policy of only visiting the Guido Fawkes blog once a month, and then forgetting to do that, the world would be a much healthier place.

More generally I think you are a little obsessed with the point that them sharing a room means nothing - which of course it doesn't - perhaps because it's easier to get indignant about, skirting over the legitimate questions that do come up here about Hague's judgement in appointing someone with so little visible qualification as his third special adviser, when he already had his quota of two.

Goddammit, I had to wait until I was 27 to become a special adviser, and in somewhere nowhere near as posh as the foreign office. So I'm seething.

Unsworth said...

@ davidmorris

Amateurish and unreliable? Of course - but that is a) part of its charm, and b) absolutely inevitable. I forget how many blogs there are in total on the Internet, but it is an astoundingly large number.

What degree of professionalism and/or reliability would you regard as acceptable? Would you regard the BBC (for example) as professional and reliable? Would you regard any newspaper or journal in the same way? If so, then you have rather lower standards than one might hope. How would you make such assessments, anyway?

And, altogether more important, who would/should make those judgements? You? On behalf of whom?

See, I tend to view all blogs with substantial scepticism, in much the same way as every other medium should be considered with caution. Ultimately this comes down to a discussion about what is fact and what is opinion - and how we can gauge which is which, given that we are obliged to read others' reports.

trevorsden said...

Michael White has gone up in my estimation. He makes a fair enough criticism of Hague but his points about the media are very much needed.

He also says that the photo of Hague and Mayer was a year old. Given that the first I saw of it was last week in the Telegraph - well it does make you think about just what the agenda is.
To quote Gen Buck Turgidson - 'Mr. President, I'm beginning to smell a big fat commie rat.'