Monday, February 12, 2007

Is Yasmin Right? Does Blogging Impoverish Democracy?

I don't mind admitting I enjoyed myself yesterday on Sunday AM. The only other time I have been on the programme I did a paper review with Polly Toynbee and was extremely nervous. I remember locking swords with her on the Iraq war and her looking shocked that I should dare to disagree. Anyway, the point of this post is to draw your attention to a post by Oliver Kamm (blogger turned Times columnist) who thinks that Yasmin outargued me and that when she said that blogs are just a giant echo chamber and 'impoverish democracy' she was right.
Harry's Place comments: "So why does the rightwing Dale defend the messy but
essentially democratic and egalitarian nature of the blogosphere while the
ostensibly leftwing Alibhai-Brown sniffishly compares bloggers to 'bores in

That question seems to me less important than the debaters'
conclusions; Dale's are wrong and Ms Alibhai-Brown's right. There are good and
bad blogs, but the medium overall impoverishes our democracy. So far from being
"democratic and egalitarian", the proliferation of political blogs narrows the
range of opinion presented in the public square, to the extent that blogs are
taken seriously as an intermediary for debate.

So, is he right? You can guess my view. We'll talk about this more on Blogger TV on 18 Doughty Street at 9pm tonight when I'll be joined by Stephen Pollard, Ben Sherreard, Devil's Kitchen and Rachel North.

If you want to see the piece on Sunday AM click HERE. It's 28 minutes in.

UPDATE: Slugger O'Toole brings some sanity to the debate HERE.


The Casual Observer said...


I saw the programme on Sunday and thought that she was mad. After time to reflect I think that she is actually Barking Mad..!

kris said...

I am suprised by yasmin's attitude. Clearly, blogging has spead like wildfire precisely because many people have felt for a long time that no one in the MSM reflects their own ideas-

blogging gives a voice to people who otherwise would never have been heard.

Sure, there are barroom bores. Guess what, they are in the conventional media as well.

tom watson said...

It depends on the type of blogging I guess.

Unsourced, anonymous blogs that run scurrilous stories and then allow anonymous comments to character assasinate an opponent - that's bad for democracy.

It is made all the worse when sites like yours Iain team up with the likes of Paul Delaire Staines. You give them legitimacy where none is deserved. And you do yourself a huge disservice defending his behaviour on television.

Don't you think it's time we made a stand against this nonsense?

kris said...

Let's put it this way. As soon as either Yasmin or Oliver can point me in the direction of an anti-islamo-fascist feminist, I'll shut up.

Until then, and whilst supposedly lefty liberals are willing to sell my freedoms as a woman and lesbian for the sake of "good relations" and multi-culturalism/ relativitism, I shall continue to type away>

Anonymous said...

Well, apart from the fact that Yasmin is never right.......... How can "blogging impoverish democracy"? Blogging IS democracy in action.

A person decides to create his/her own blog to express their own opinions. Another person comes across that blog and reads it. Both these actions are entirely voluntary. If the reader likes the blog, they keep reading it - if they don't, they don't. Either way, it's free choice all the way, and with no hands in the taxpayers' pockets either.

Reading a blog also does not mean one necessarily agrees with every word written. It's the quality of the writing that counts - the free exchange of views in the comments which adds spice.

People like Yasmin think democracy means everyone agreeing with her, just like the Government thinks consultation means them telling us what to think. If something is boring, people don't read it.

Personally I never read YAB because I can't stand sanctimonious self-righteous people........

Anonymous said...

Yes, but I guess the point is that your blog is not representative of the 'blogosphere' as a whole. If it were, you wouldn't be in the top 3, there would a hundred others in the running.

YAB made a good point that if one ONLY reads blogs, then that is about as useful as going down the pub for your news, since you may discover some facts, but they will be swamped by contradictory views.

On the other hand, the main stream press has become incredibly lazy.

Most just recycle press-releases and PR guff. Even the BBC,which I like far more than some of your posters, is guilty of marginalising the sort of investigative journos, like John Ware, who used to be on Panorama.

You may not like Michael Crick, but he is one of the few guys who will 'shake the tree'. The fact that his ilk is in short supply is exactly the reason the likes of Guido and yourself are needed to poke an old, sleepy, bear with sharp reporting.

As a wise person once said :-

'You sometimes have to ask an impertinent question to get a pertinent answer'.

YAB, for all her faults, does do this, but she is kidding herself if she thinks all the mainstream media do, and that bloggers don't bother.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Praguetory said...

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed, They didn't quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too
It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done...

Old BE said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


Guthrum said...

I have just watched your appearance with Yasmin and Andrew Marr. You were not out argued at all. I found her finger wagging and shaking of head intensely irritating as it it just reflects her elitist position. There are good and bad blogs, but how can a medium be described as impoverishing Democracy when it allows thousands of voters 'a say'. I spent four years doing a politics and history degree part time, and I find that I have no voice apart from once every 4-5 years. Hence the name of my blog- Looking for a voice. In my home town of Northampton, the hustings in the twenties were a great way of political engagement- my grandmother regularly took part and thought it was great fun. Its called engagement.OK sometimes the election results meant the yeomanry had to be called out to quell a riot and the Chronicle & Echo Newspaper got burnt down on a regular basis, but the citizens were involved. Our democracy has been corrupted to an oligarchy of the same families throwing up prospective MP's and parachuting them into 'safe' seats. Blogging is red in tooth and claw, and the established 'order' do not like it. They should fear this medium, because it is the articulate 'mob' that want a say.

Anonymous said...

Yasmin should open a shop called Victimhood, where she can sell pity in return for handouts.

Iain you need to develop a more sustained line to undermine her - other than just laugh at her ignorance.

Blogging undermine democracy? - what exposing New Labours systemic sleaze and corruption. Absolutely the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a Times columnist getting all irritated that there are successful media outlets other than his own chosen profession.

Anonymous said...

You may have seen that film with Morgan Spurlock 'SuperSize Me' - he tries to live only on McDonald's food for a month, with serious consequences.

I guess the point about blogging is not what is in them - it is the fact that if one is relying solely on them for news and views, it is a bit like poor Mr Spurlock missing out on his '5 a day' fruit and veg.

Perhaps blogs will soon have to show a 'warning' - 'Blogging is okay as part of a balanced diet of news including 5 portions of main stream media outlets every day'.

We could even have an argument on whether they should show a traffic light with red/amber/green against categories like :-

Dodgy views based on unsound logic
Lack of diversity
Stories based on a single source
'Facts' which are really assertions

'Flame-grilled whopper' content
[where people rant over fibs]

Jonathan Sheppard said...

I don't think it does impoverish democracy. Its all about freedom of speech and opinion. I get slightly amused these days when people try to apply the same rules to blogging as they do to the media.

Comments such as "Why haven't you covered this story" - well its because it's my blog and I'll cover what I want.

Blogs don't have to operate democratically to aid democracy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed Sunday I am still getting over your tie.

I think Our Yas may be a bit scared that Blogging has jumped into politics ,and I think she thinks her commentry will be lost in the noise ,that maybe but we all have become commentators now.

Anonymous said...

I really really hate this "we'll decide what's good for you" attitude.

Its the millions of bores in bars that vote, whether anyone likes that or not.

The biggest impoverishers of democracy are this government and their friends in the EU, not people trying to find a voice.

Anonymous said...

I thought Y A-B was very poor, and plainly motivated by snobbery and self-righteousness. By complaining that bloggers are like bores in bars, she is merely saying "I am more interesting than you". She gave the game away when she tried to justify herself by saying that she gets hundreds of emails from readers in response to her pearls - and sometimes even answers them. So basically, just like a blogger, she opines and then people can respond. The only difference is that the respondents aren't allowed to air their views in public. Which is just the way Yasmin likes it.

She is a snob.

Nich Starling said...

"So why is it that only Conservative's seem to have blogs ?", asks Andrew Marr.

Does Iain answer with words to the effect of :
A) There are dozens of blogs from all political parties.
B) Yes there are lots of Conservative ones, but some other parties are catching up.
c) I won't given ayone else any credit, let the Tories take the glory !

Come on Iain, you were there to represent all political, not just the Tories !

Anonymous said...

She and he are both wrong.
Nothing very surprising there.

Any individual who launches into blogdom adds their own voice, priorities and opinions to the whole. Can't think of anything more democratic. And like democracy it's messy, potentially confusing, and fuckwits are an unavoidable ingredient in the mix.

Your recollection of Super-Poll being surprised at your disagreement is telling - the MSM hang-overs from the days when columnists/editors presented the bien-pensant view for the edification of the masses must be beginning to feel vulnerable. Their own fault, of course. The left liked the idea of relativism, especially when it could be used to beat their favourite bogeymen. But relativism is devouring it's own children, and with it my views are as valid as yours, his, hers, anybody's. Patently untrue, but relativism isn't concerned with objective truth or value, only with a spurious equality of expression.

After years of consorting with their own kind, with contrary views the province of untouchables like the Daily Mail, it must be a bit of a shock to find that what were dearly held accepted truths are considered by others to be no more than personal prejudices.

To a pundit, democracy is only functioning when the majority is supporting them. When it doesn't democracy has obviously failed. 'Cos they know best.
Yeah, sure.

Anonymous said...

Ms Alibi-for-Gordon-Brown is totally up her own orifice on this one. Bore in a bar?? Look who's talking.

Anonymous said...

What arrogance. What is the difference between reading a political blog and forming an opinion and reading a political column in a newspaper and forming an opionion? Answer, nothing. I'll read and take what I want from it. If opinion stifles debate, then what do we have the house of commons for?

Anonymous said...

Y A-B made some good points, but her approach and body language [legs crossed, arms folded] weren't really going to convince anyone of her view. Anyone who subscribes to Private Eye will be aware of her high opinion of herself...

Contrast that with the delectable Baroness Helena of Kennedy, QC with that lovable scamp, Jeff Randall.

Her scrumminess let Jeff have his say, and Helena then had the approach of a loving headmistress who knows the boy has given the wrong answer and is labouring under the misapprehension that Scotland is a county north of Yorkshire.

She wants to make sure that the boy is put on the right track, so that he doesn't go through life with the mistake uncorrected, but she takes care not to dampen his enthusiasm and energy for education, his thirst for learning and his quest for knowledge. Superb stuff.

Just a shame that 'mogadon' is the presenter - couldn't they get the likes of Sarah Montague or Eddie Mair to do the show instead ?

Jeremy Jacobs said...

I hope your viewing figures tonight go up after yesterday's TV apperance

Anonymous said...

Hmmm..but be honest, Mr Dale, you just aren't giving enough coverage to those lovely cuddly pandas, now are you ?

And where are the pictures of poorly built snowpeople ?

Unknown said...

We are moving away from a tight cabal of information providers towards an information free market. As the barriers to entry fall almost anyone can "opine" as Y.A.B. would say.

That is why the right loves it and that is why the left hate it.

There will always be good and bad blogs, the good ones will flourish and the bad ones will whither.

Such is life!

Anonymous said...

Tom Watson - Good point, but most of us are discriminating enough to say 'I'll believe it when I see it' to trash and garbage like 'Iain Dale eats rocking horse droppings and MI5 have got the video...' etc. etc.

Blogging can shine a light on things, although as with anything, you have to research the background on other media. The alternative may be seen in action in China - or not seen, as they are censored behind the 'Great Firewall' from telling us

Old BE said...

comments to character assasinate an opponent

Of course, no left winger would ever try to character assasinate an opponent, whether anonymously or not!

Pot, kettle Mr Watson!

kris said...

Hello! like the MSM is unbiased!

Anonymous said...

Yasmin's just scared she'll lose her job. It is absurd to think that one person's view is more valid than another's.

In the blogosphere, insightful, intelligent blogs become popular (like this one), while the rubbish gets largely ignored.

In print, it's those who's views fit in with the paper's bias that get favoured. Which one's a fairer, more democratic system? Surely that's obvious.

Iain Dale said...

Tom Watson, I'm surprised you have the cheek to show you face, let alone come out with such guff. Yesterday you posted a smear on your blog about Guido Fawkes and have now had to withdraw it. Perhaps you should start practising what you preach - ah, but I forgot, you're a New Labour MP. You don't believe the same laws apply to you, do you?

The Empty Suit said...

Blogging reminds me at the moment of the Lollards and their attempts to demystify the Bible by translating it into English. By chance I came across a sidelink in Iain's bar to Adrian Monck's blog (CLICKY) where in today's post he rehashes a speech he gave a while ago and talks about Wyclif's translation. In both cases you have a self-policing elite trying to preserve the status quo (and with it their own status and wealth) by limiting the dissemination of information to the (as they perceive it) ill-educated and unworthy masses. The Vulgate Bible was one of the things that set in motion a chain of events that led ultimately to the breaking of the Church as the leading power in England.

Anonymous said...

With YAB, it's all just a question of protecting one's income.

She's worried that editors might rightly see that there are a whole plethora of vastly more articulate, logical, interesting and relevant views being expressed by bloggers writing on the internet. They do this for nothing.

Editors might rightly then question whether YAB and her fourth rate drivel are worth the exhorbitant fee she is paid, and come to the conclusion that they aren't. Blogging will make her an irrelevance, and a costly one at that.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit rich for Yasmin Alibhai Brown to describe anyone else as being a bore.

She is the most anti-English bore imaginable.

On the BBC's Dateline London 21st January she said "the English nationalists can have their parliament, but not in London. London's ours".

I have yet to receive an answer to my email to her asking exactly what she meant. If Ms Alibhai Brown reads this, she may well see fit to provide an answer here. Maybe Iain could ask her on to explain this and, as she also said, "I have a problem with the English".

BTW the BBC has not answered my requests for a transcript of the Dateline London broadcast.

tom watson said...

Ah, glad you mention the Guido thing. Let us see the outcome of this particular debacle with Paul Delaire Staines.

Rest assured though, if I am wrong, or in this case, if the Guardian are, I will apologise.

Saying sorry is something I note you have never done, despite there being a long list of people you have made made allegations about that were then proven to be totally untrue.

I see that Mr Delaire Staines has admitted on his site that there will be an "about section" later this month. At least we can put a name to the dirt he peddles now.

Still, you've been defending his actions and protecting his anonymity for months now. That wont matter to you either way will it.

Bryan Appleyard said...

Even if she were right, Iain, she is, in principle,wrong.

Iain Dale said...

Tom, There have been many occasions on this blog where I have got things wrong and apologised. You only need to trawl the archives to find out.

How exactly have I protected Guido's anonymity? he was 'outed' months ago. You don't like him because he threatens your ivory tower. The fact that you pathetically use his middle name says it all.

Get back to undermining Tony Blair. It's what you do best. Having said that, you didn't get that right did you?!

Anonymous said...

How can anyone take Oliver Kamm's views on "blogging conversations" seriously, when his own website does not allow comments of any sort ?

Anonymous said...

Yas was her usual mix of monsterous self-regard and irrationality. Obviously the commentariat are rattled, so many people can do what they do - only, well, better. You wiped the floor with her I thought. Btw you should have asked her if she ever got around to returning her MBE.

Anonymous said...

Of course blogging doesn't 'impoverish' democracy. As most posters here agree, it enhances it, which is why the current junta and their pals in the MSM don't like it.

Just in case there are any people left in doubt about this government's attitude to democracy, just look at 2 recent events. Firstly, the proposals to 'tighten up' on the FOI; secondly, Douglas Alexander's attitude to the very large number of people signing the petition against road-pricing on the No. 10 website. Nuff said! Long may the blogosphere flourish in the name of freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

I did not see Iain and Yasmin on Sunday AM, but for me the issue is much simpler.

Democracy isn't really about voting at all, but free expression.

Exercising one's right (and duty) to freedom of speech and encouraging others to do the same HAS to be right for democracy, almost irrespective of what your message is.

Even if Iain were a Pub Bore, so what? If we restricted the right of expression to people who were interesting, not many would keep their jobs in Westminster...

Anonymous said...

I think YAB made a reasonable point - Devil's kitchen would be an extreme example of the type of blog she was talking about.

I quite enjoy DK, but no one could be under any illusion as to its contribution to the rational, balanced debate that democracy needs.

*runs away in anticipation of being called a **** by DK*

Tristan said...

Lets think about this.
There used to be a tax on newspapers. Why? They threatened the monopoly on conveying information which the government thought was its.

Now the main stream media is threatened and they behave in the same sort of way.

I bet arguments were made that newspapers were bad for the country and for effective government. The only difference is that now 'democracy' is invoked. Presumably democracy is only what we the state and established media wish rather than enabling individuals to make choices and have their voice heard.

Then again, the lefties are the very same people who think the Chavez is okay because he was elected but Bush is evil incarnate...

Anonymous said...

I don't have to see or hear what Alibi Brown has to say to know that she's wrong.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Tom Watson, Iain, wouldn't you concede that using 'Mr [Paul] Delaire Staines' is really just the same as saying 'Mr [Iain] Duncan Smith' or 'Mr [Piers] Pughe-Morgan'. Just a thought.

tom watson said...

.tomNot going away Iain, sorry.

Fair Deal Phil
Chris Bryant
Tim Ireland

Say Sorry to them.

As for Ivory Towers. Don't play that one with me man. You're as establishment as I am. Tory Agent, candidate, A-lister, Campaign Director to the Shadow Home Secretary, BBC commentator. You're hardly Chez Guevara are you?

Old BE said...

The fact that you pathetically use his middle name says it all.

A classic attempt to portray Guido as a "toff". The problem for Mr Watson is that nobody cares anymore. The class war is over. People with names like Viscount Anthony Wedgewood-Benn would be accepted in the Labour Party these days.

Anonymous said...

There's far too much of Alibaba-Brown at the moment. She's almost ubiquitous. I can't stand her self righteousness and her constant moaning and whinging. She's doing alright though - but I wish some editors would give her a rest. No one I know reads her column and they all switch off whatever radio/TV programme she's on. I'd love to watch the clip - but I can't!

The Empty Suit said...

"Chez Guevara"? Is that a new Argentinian steakhouse?

Anonymous said...

How ironic that she accuses right-wingers of being angry at modern society while half her articles are moans about Islamophobia etc.

Iain Dale said...

Tom, oh dear. People really do seem to delight in demanding apologies where none are due.

FairDealPhil, I don't recall the exact details of this but as far as I can remember I was supposed to be apologising for something someone else said.

Chris Bryant, I was duped by a Guardian story. I admitted it within 90 minutes. It was me that looked the fool. He then completely overreacted. I deleted the post at his request even though it was me that it made look stupid, not him.

Tim Ireland is demanding an apology because I asked a question. Asking questions is what I am paid to do. If he took offence at the question then I am sorry, but he is being over sensitive. You and I have been called far, far worse. Do we demand apologies every time anything bad is written or said about us? No. You take it on the chin and get on with life.

As I said before, if I get something wrong or go over the top in my language, it is my custom to apologise. I don't really care whgether you accept that or not.

Man in a Shed said...

The established left doesn't believe in democracy - only bloke votes and cheering crowds marching in front on the podium of the dear leader. ( Ref any stage managed NuLabour event over the last 10 years ).

But there's something rather nasty going on here .... some of the established left are having a (coordinated?) go at what they can't control. ( I don't include left bloggers - who seem to at least get this part of benefits of freedom. )

Anonymous said...

How come democracy needs "rational Debate" it kind of suggests that someone will decide exactly what "rational" is. If so then let it be me! (see my blog for excessive rationality)

Political blogs make democracy much more interesting to many people, and this must surely be important?

Also - it is possible to hear a wider range of opinions than traditional media could ever have room for.

And, the fact that some right of centre blogs dominate at the moment is a function of them being in opposition surely? Also they are funnier and better written than most of the lefty ones.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what Thomas 'Tom' Anthony Watson MP thinks anyway?

Anonymous said...

I am having a great deal of trouble seeeing how more voices being heard and people talking more openly about politics is bad for democracy?

What a strange notion!

Anonymous said...

"At least we can put a name to the dirt he peddles now."

Those of us with any sense found it on google months ago.

Anonymous said...

The Left hate democracy because they know that the majority of people are pro-Monarchy, anti-mass immigration, Eurosceptic and pro-hanging.

Unfortunately the majority of people are pro-welfare state but then I suppose it is tempting to live off of other peoples' money.

Anonymous said...

Tom Watson Your attack on the freedom of speech is appalling. I know you are upset that you cannot control the bloggers but control freakery must end somewhere.

As for Yasmin, her worry is that if people are free to broadcast without a journo as intermediary her comfy living and celebrity conferencing might be torn from her.

Anonymous said...

Tom - are you going for the world endurance record for holding grudges on behalf of others?

Anonymous said...

Whatever that lady is up to,it shows she is a business woman ,hence this commentry ,I think she's very canny ,and appears to be very good at advertising to.

Anonymous said...

A quick summary ...

Tom - has-been
Iain - wanna-be

Anonymous said...

I have been following the lefty thought police this weekend and the fact that Tom Watson has suddenly become the defender of Tim Ireland the blogsphere equivalent of the pub bore.
Two bloggers seem to be getting up their nose more than most, and the fact that Guido and Iain have been nosing around a certain think tank seems to be more than coincidence.

"Unsourced, anonymous blogs that run scurrilous stories and then allow anonymous comments to character assasinate an opponent - that's bad for democracy." Tom just change the word blogs and you could be talking about the NuLabour spin machine over the last 10 years, with the David Kelly affair being the most disgusting episode.

"Don't you think it's time we made a stand against this nonsense?" You are right and that is what we intend to do at the next general election.
Tom, you and your pals have bored the pants off the electorate with the petty way that your boss and his next door neighbour have been leaking damaging stories about each other for years. The hypocrisy of this is just unbelievable, face it Labour are crap at blogging and need to realise you can't claim the moral high ground after running politics into the gutter.

Anonymous said...

Iain you are the best. People try and bully you. You politely tell them you won't have it and off they go.

I would like you as my head teacher.

Sabretache said...

Tom Watson complaining about 'Peddling dirt'? Talk about brass-necked gall!

Perhaps he thinks that 'peddling dirt' should be the exclusive province of the Labour Party as its proprietory refex action when any of it's shibboleths are effectively challenged by an individual. They have it down to a fine art - and with all the resources of government to do the digging for them.

The thing Watson and his cronies are so upset about is the effectiveness of the blogsphere in exposing the patronising, self-serving crap that passes for Labour Party communication and consultation with its subjects these days. His whinging is pathetic

Newmania said...

I watched with avid attention and thought she made herself look a bit silly. You Iain were your usual smooth self and she was just doing what collunmists do . I `m against lets find a reason.
Bloggers do that to .It is entirely obvious why any jounallist would want to be anti Blogging. in the hope , of course , of raising his/her profile.

It will be fascinating to see what affect this all has at the next general election and watching the US will give us a clue.

Rachel North Again ?! She doesn`t even write a blog , which , IMHO , is an improvement .

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Dear oh dear Mr. Watson - he really does protest too much, I think. For an MP he's not very keen on interaction with the voters, is he? But then again, he is a Labour MP....

Is he the same Tom Watson who assisted Sion Simon to put that nasty video on YouTube whereby Simon pretended to be David Cameron inviting people to come and sleep with his wife?

"Unsourced, anonymous blogs that run scurrilous stories and then allow anonymous comments to character assasinate an opponent - that's bad for democracy"

If he is, guess he'd know all about the above then, wouldn't he.

Anonymous said...

I have watched the clip which more than confirmed what from my first and only reading of her Independent column had deduced, namely that Alibhai-Brown is incapable of presenting an argument as a result of having poor reasoning skills and being emotionally overrought, more like a taproom rant.

With regard to whether those who 'only' read blogs know what is really going on; this is begging the question: formal sites like contains more quality editorial and reporting than a year's worth of the Independent.

Anonymous said...

The entire story of this government has been use of spin and flat lies, via anonymous "sources" to journalists.

Does anyone recall the incident where a pensioner left on a trolley overnight was labelled a racist?

If you are in the Labour party, then you were a *party* to this. You are guilty. All of you. Not just ZanuLabour.

Serf said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Time to put your tin helmets on for you and Guido I think. Gordon and his BBC have designated this get the bloggers week.

Good luck, chin up.

PS Tom Watson does seem a real tosser.

fairdealphil said...

Iain says he can’t recall why Tom Watson thought he owed me an apology, so perhaps I may be helpful:

When the Mail on Sunday libelled me, Iain was quick as a rat-up-a-drainpipe to provide a link.

Under the headline 'Exposing the Real Face of New Labour', Iain added the 1997 'Demon Eyes' poster for extra effect and praised Richard Gibbs, the source of the Mail-on-Sunday’s libel, saying he ran an 'excellent' blog (which incidentally shut down soon after I issued legal proceedings).

Iain added: 'Needless to say the Labour spin machine has swung into action and tried to trash Richard Gibbs by accusing him of joining the Conservative Party.'

Gibbs was co-author of The Cameron Leadership blog whose opening page at the time confirmed that he was a member of the Conservative Party.

Iain had a link to The Cameron Leadership on his own blogroll, so it wouldn’t have taken a minute to confirm that the Labour Party were in fact telling the truth.

When I won my libel case in the High Court, proving that the Mail on Sunday story was nonsense and winning damages and a grovelling apology, Tom suggested Iain owed me an apology.

Iain says because he didn’t actually post the allegations against me (though he did provide a link), no apology would be forthcoming…

neil craig said...

I said before I thought she was a silly woman. It appeared to be entirely MSM jealousy of a medium which is more open & flexible than hers.

I had thought you might have defended by mentioning stories broken by blogs such as the Lebanese Reuters photos or your own pushing of Prescott or subjects such as GW scepticism which just don't get mentioned there. Perhaps this would have got Andrew Marr against you since the BBC is as silent here as anybody.

As regards the idea that the ability to comment merely provides as echo chamber - I & I think almost everybody else only comment to express at least some disagreement with a point being put forward (except maybe today). I'd also agree with Forthurst in his comparison of the Independent & Anti-War as to real news.

James Higham said...

Have you considered a photomural of that type for Doughty?

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

uhjuiOh come on guys Tom Watson was this kind of operator at Hull. That is why the New Labour types picked him for great things. Tom is well versed in Machiaveli and Sun Tzu. Politics to him and many others is nasty, brutal and unrelenting.

On another note: YAB calling anyone a bore is a bit rich.

Anonymous said...

The relevant ethical standards stated the following:

"....considered that the alleged conduct related to an event which Councillor Dilks attended as a member of his political party and not as a member of Lincolnshire County Council. The Ethical Standards Officer therefore considered that the Code of Conduct did not apply to the alleged conduct."

So it was a case of whether Phil Dilks was wearing either his County Councillor's hat or that of his disgraced party when he kicked that girl up the arse, that was of real concern to the standards board.

Well done Phil. You're the man.

Anonymous said...


So he provided a link, and praised the source's blog. Surely it is the source and author(s)/editor(s) of the material that owe you an apology, not Iain. You could make a rather weak case for Iain apologising to his regular readers for directing them to a story that turned out to be wrong, but certainly not for an apology to you.

Keep your chin up, you'll probably survive.

Anonymous said...

Yes she's quite right of course. If she could just send me a list of her approved reading material I'll ignore everything else...

Why do some people think they have a right to tell other people what to do or believe? I suspect that YAB is from the same wealthy priveleged background as Polly Toynbee - the only sort of people who get to write for newspapers

Anonymous said...

I'm always amused that newspaper columnists think their opinion actually means anything. They generally appear to believe they are only ones who talk sense, or suggest they are standard up for the silent majority and often imply they know the answers to the Nations vexing issues.

Wasters all.

The Stoat said...

Hmm. The age old story that the established media are terrified of competition. Then again, blogging is the domain of an active minority, just like the folks who would go to public meetings (and that didn't make the meeting an unreliable source). I think there's only something like 15% of the world's population on line, just like the small attendences before the mass media decided they controlled the narrative.

Well, the narrative is being challenged, and they don't like it.

Nich Starling said...

Iain, I guess this whole debate shows how important blogging has become because you've shown that the spin machine can be got round via the blogosphere.

You know I don't always agree with you, indeed, I guess nobody who reads this blog has done more to campaign against you than me, but I think you are right in that you have nothing to apologise for in this case.

You are paid to ask questions. One senior Tory blogger accused me of being gay on a couple of blogs recently. Did I sue, hardly. My wife was surprised, but hey, at least I can dance and dress well now !

Unknown said...

YAB out-debated you in so much that she put her hands over her ears and shouted La-la-la-la-la louder than you.

To suggest that bloggers spout forth but she opines for a living was one of the more extraordinary things that I heard yesterday morning. Getting all of your news from a handful of blogs is no more skewed than solely relying on the Indie for a balanced view on world affairs.

Anonymous said...

YAB is so eaten up with hatred of the English, that it clouds he judgement on absolutely everything.

He only argument was that she hates blogs because people can answer back. Makes you realise you got it right all along, when YAB disagrees with it.

She's a control freak who hasn't forgiven England for taking her in and saving her life when Idi Amin wanted to kill her.

Anonymous said...

Iain I saw you taking this interview the other day and my personal view was that you were by far and away too accomodating to the critic sitting next to you.

You need to toughen up.

I gather you are still on the A list but have not yet been selected. This has puzzled me for a while. But I think this may be the reason why.

Someone who is polite and accomodating is not seen as decisive. A key factor in selections. being the nicest man on the planet just may work, but you need an exceptional audience to win the day.

She attacked blogging to death and the 100,000 hitters to your site wanted you to tell her she was out of order. you sort of agreed with her too much and her complaint was not holed.

Toughen up Iain, stand your ground and fight to win.

Then go into a selection.If you totally believe in something then you have to make them believe it.

Ok, I suppose this is criticism but it is meant to be constructive.


Anonymous said...

What a strange woman, just sitting there with her arms crossed and disagreeing with everything being said ... for no other reason, it would seem, than disagreeing.

In the words of Father Jack from the "Father Ted" series ... "Feck! How did that gobshite get to be on TV?"

neil craig said...

Purely as an example of how necessary the net is to prevent politically incorrect stories not being seen here is former media darling Vaclav Havel giving his forthright opinions on global warming.
Granted the country Havel used to run is smaller than the one Gore didn't but his brain, & charisma, are greater.

Anonymous said...

Tom Watson writes "Unsourced, anonymous blogs that run scurrilous stories and then allow anonymous comments to character assasinate an opponent - that's bad for democracy".

But it's OK for political parties, and factions within them, to do the same? NuLab is riven by what you describe; how is that not bad for democracy, whereas free speech in blogs is? Please explain. And no, we are not all so stupid as to believe everything "anon" writes.

Dear me. Poor Tom ...

Anonymous said...

Or could it be a case of blogging is a symptom of an impoverished democracy?