Friday, April 17, 2009

Steve Richards: Guido Is One Of the Media's Most Influential Figures

Steve Richards has written a thoughtful piece in today's Independent. I thought these two paras were very telling...

The creator of the Guido Fawkes website, Paul Staines, is in my view one of the most influential figures in the British media. One day this week I heard five items on the Today programme that followed up his stories or his observations. Politicians have not learnt how to cope with an individual who has as much impact as entire newspapers. He is one of the reasons why Derek Draper, the recipient of McBride's emails, felt the need for a left of centre equivalent...

...When Draper set up the website Labourlist he became an immediate target of right-wing sites.
They were quite open about why they were attacking him. He was supporting the government and they regarded this as unacceptable. They pointed out, rightly, that sites like the brilliantly innovative ConservativeHome contained criticism of the Tory leadership. But what they did not acknowledge was that there are plenty of places to go if you wish to find strong support for the Conservatives' leadership. There is almost nowhere to find anyone putting arguments that highlight the positive impact of some government policies.

Wonder why that would be, then? Actually, there is. Tom Harris, Hopi Sen, LabourHome to name but three. Indeed, if I were Mike Danson, the man who now owns 100% of the New Statesman and LabourHome, I'd be throwing a bit of investment Alex Hilton's way. Now is his time. If he plays it right, and ups LabourHome's game, it can achieve what LabourList didn't, and probably won't.

I would dispute Steve's reasoning on why we attacked LabourList. We attacked it because it was, well, a bit crap. Both Tim Montgomerie and I had met with Derek and we both genuinely wished him well in the project. Of course we would never have agreed with the content, but we attacked his top down approach and the fact that it just didn't work as a site. It was him that then tried to launch a war with Guido and myself, dubbing us as people who condoned racism.

Read Steve's full article HERE.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

Well actually there is Tom Harris and Labour Home. Hopi Sen is as incomprehensible as his silly name (which is probably the only reason his site gets hits.)

Plato said...

And his readers give him quite a kicking in the comments too.

I'd don't think he's quite recovered from you asking him why if he knew all about the rat-f*cking didn't he do something about it before.

It was very amusing to listen to his splutter.

Check out how Guido describes Steve's article on Seen Elsewhere.


Old Holborn said...

Labourlist pretended to be independent.

Guido knew it wasn't.

That is the only reason Guido went after Draper.

End of Story.

Andrew Efiong said...

Iain, I'm all for blogs supporting good government policies but LabourList seemed to close to government.

As such it just came across as propaganda, not support. Remember there is a very big difference between the Labour Party membership and what the government is doing and LabourList seemed to ignore this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Indeed the internet allows 'the people' to mount a counter agenda.

The reason why Guido's is so succesful at this time is the anti-sleaze agenda in hard times is a strong and worthy issue. Labour due to their 12 years in power suffer the most as they have set the system and regulated it - they are in otherwords responsible.

The internet empowers the individual and every facet of financial or ministerial "Bad behaviousr" whilst using public office can be uncovered.

Lord Snooty said...


You are being slightly disingenuous here, I think. It is no doubt true that Labourlist was attacked partly because it was a bit crap. But I'm certain that some of the vitriol and venom was driven by who Draper is and his supportive stance to the government. Indeed, attacks on Draper and his promised site appeared long before Labourlist had even materialised!

Also, I cannot agree that the 'blogwars' between Draper and you/Guido are entirely one-sided in their origin. It takes two to tango and you and Mr Fawkes have both played some part.

Delighted, by the way, that you've gone back to the old comments system.

happyuk said...

Yes LabourList is attacked not so much because of the policies they believe in - one mans meat is another mans poison and all that.

The real reason is more mundane - LabourList, in common with many lefty blogs is just plain DULL.

When will these prim n proper twats realize that they don't have to take such a stuffy approach to blogging?

Unsworth said...

Well, speaking as one who 'attacked' Draper I'd just like to point out that my comments, and those of many others, were in response to Draper's drivellings on sites such as yours. At no stage did I bother with commenting on LabourList.

The facts are that time and again Draper - in an attempt to generate traffic - chose to come to these fora, often making crass or irrelevant observation, and then was taken to pieces for so doing.

Steve Richards presents this as some sort of concerted attack on Draper. I'd prefer to portray it as a concerted response to Draper. Indeed I can recall directly warning Draper that he should sort himself and his blog out before continuing with his inanity.

The problem for the Left is that they - by and large - are uncritical of Government. Why do newspapers find that good news does not sell? However they shouldn't be too downhearted. In a few months, after the General Election, they'll be able to criticise the Government to their hearts' content.

Crocodile Dundee said...

is this true? It certainly reflects the true face of new Labour - and the bottom of the barrel for UKIP

Jonny Mac said...

What's also striking about Guido is how he has been attacked publicly and specifically by several Government ministers - eg Hazel Blears on his 'vicious nihilism', Ed Balls complaining about the 'sexist and homophobic' comments on his site, Tom Watson sticking the boot in repeatedly.

The executive bullying an individual commentator in such a way makes me uneasy, and leaves me wondering whether Little Andy 'mascara' Burnham is going to try to push through some 'regulation of blogs' piece of nonsense legislation after all. Let's not forget how keen Gordon is to 'clean up our [OUR!!] politics'...

Jimmy said...

I think you're right to point out that your criticism of Labour List was both fair and constructive. Others plainly were not. I suspect Draper's idea was to put the site on the map by picking a silly handbag fight with the people he saw as the biggest kids in the playground. Not the brightest idea he's ever had.

Ferdinand said...

>We attacked it because it was, well, a bit crap.

When it started, a lot (most?) didn't attack it, but held off to see.

But if you start phoning up people and threatening them, then they (and all the rest) get pissed off pretty quickly.

Lord Snooty said...

Unsworth said:

"The problem for the Left is that they - by and large - are uncritical of Government."

I would say that entirely the opposite is true. The Left always hate their leaders and complain that they're not 'left' enough. Wilson, Callaghan, Kinnock, Blair were all continually berated for being too centrist or even right-wing. And I don't know many lefties who haven't been complaining about New Labour not being socialist ever since 1994.

There are a small number of tribal Labour-ists who cannot stomach criticising their own party but that is certainly not true of the 'Left' in general.

Will said...

I'm sure in politics and the media business, "dubbing us as people who condoned racism" is a declaration of war.

But I am interested, if out here in the cold, it's really the terrible slur it's being painted as. When people go 'gasp, he called me a racist', or each 'gasp, he said I tolerated racists', is that genuine horror or just a bit of camp theatrics?

It seems to me that we all actually tolerate all sorts of racism and sexism, it's just that the tolerable flavours and direction of it are subject to fashion.

What do other people think?

Conand said...

Labour leaning blogs might flourish if they manage to get into opposition. :D

Conand said...

@ Will @2:18

I was appalled when Yasmin Alibhai-Brown basically said that all BME Conservatives were racial traitors. That was one of the most blatantly racist things I've heard for many a long while. (Not to mention that it generally makes her sound like a National Socialist).
If you actually believe that a massive state is the only course of action that avoids iniquity then surely that applies to whites also? As a raving honky I'm disappointed she didn't brand me as a traitor to my race too.

Plato said...

Mr Draper had terrible previous and then picked a playground fight.

He used two of the most repellent terms to do so and went out of his way to smear the biggest traffic sites [ConsHome doesn't count in this war as Tim M is a card-carrying squeeky clean Christian].

And then he attacked Alex Hilton in a massive red on red attack.

Hmm - now why did Labourlist get a kicking again?

Oh yes and it was very crap - which is why Draper was desperate for traffic, just like being desperate for votes and so smeared his Opposition opponents.

*feels like form to me*

Schards said...

In answer to Will, I believe that racism is the new witchcraft and it's very difficult to defend yourself if accused. An accusation can also be career threatening even if not substantiated.

That's why the left seem to throw the accusation at anyone they are looking to undermine, that and the fact that it also tends to shut down whatever the original debate is as discusion enevitably focusses on accusation once it's made.

john miller said...

Funny, I thought Richard's piece was positively unhinged.

The general tenor seemed to be that politicians were treating the public and each other as pieces of ordure, but we should admire them for it.

Then to say that New Labour's spin machine was a defensive mechanism is just delusional.

I must say I rarely read Richards, Mary Riddell and Toynbee, because you need a certain mind set in place before you can tackle their articles.

Preferably, you need to venerate socialism as a quasi religion, whereby any means whatsoever are justfied by the ends. You have to ignore the fact that these wealthy, upper middle class writers positively hate middle class people, whilst adoring the concept of the working class. This does not extend to having any contact with the working class, mind you.

And, in the end, there is no escaping the fact that, as you pointed out, he has had his nose where it shouldn't have been for the last 15 years, which has prjudiced his writing enormously.

Lastly, thank god you no longer have to be a geek to comment!

Anonymous said...

I think blogging is grat ,when mr Dale of Tunbridge Wells got upset with something he read about in the newspapers he wrote to them in the letters column and hopefully it got printed,now when mr Dale gets upset he can write about it in his own blog or leave a comment in some one else's blog,blood pressure is relieved.

Iain the mr Dale could be anybody but your goodself as you already do the above.

cjcjc said...

Oh come on Iain.
It's not a thoughtful piece, it's pure self-justification.
Rather weak too.
He's been caught out and he knows he and his ilk will never be trusted again.

Red Riding said...

Snooty @ 2.05pm

I would go further than this. It's not just that Dale/Guido were partly to blame for the 'war'. Draper was actually right about Guido - he not only condones racism and homophobia in his comments (he's happy to delete comments when he chooses, so why leave these?), but also subtly encourages, notably through the Friday caption competition.

For the avoidance of doubt, I don't believe for a minute, Iain, that you are racist at all, although I thought you could have been a bit less mealy-mouthed about the Carol Thatcher incident. Also cannot understand how you can say you are 'mates' with Guido given his homophobia.

Scary Mary said...

Aren't you a Hilton fan as he is compliant and plays by the nicely nicely rules of the blogging fraternity which leads to lots of self congratulatory back slapping and mutual love ins?

Lord Snooty said...

Rather like a weak Opposition is a recipe for bad Government, do you not think that a stronger left-wing presence in the blogosphere would improve your own performance? In which case, maybe time to leave LabourList alone?

Iain Dale said...

Haha. Re Alex Hilton, if you do a Google search on me and him you will know that in the past there has been a lot of bad blood in him and me. Had you bothered to do that before you posted your comment you wouldn't have made such a fool of yourself.

Martin S said...

You offered Derek Draper the hand of friendship. He made the mistake of biting you.

Now, I could be wrong on this, but I think the only reason he did this was to boost visits to his site.

That is unacceptable, in my view and the Labour Party should have pulled the plug on him as soon as it became obvious what he was doing. Why didn't they? We can only presume that this was because they were in on it from the start.

Unsworth said...

@ Lord Snooty

"In which case, maybe time to leave LabourList alone?"

That's exactly what most people did and do - take a look at the stats (insofar are there are some). Trouble is, Loopy Draper decided that he wanted to generate traffic - well before he'd got his site sorted and his policy/contributors sussed - and that despite repeated neutral advice and comment here and elsewhere. The rest is history. None so blind as those who will not see.

However, your point about a strong left-wing presence is well made. But who is there? Who amongst the Left is capable of putting up decent and sustainable argument for left-wing policies? Polly Toynbee? Maybe that's because such argument is not capable of being sustained.

Paul Halsall said...


I find LabourList to be massively conservative. Like this government.

Which is the problem.

Perhaps 50-55% of people in the UK are on the left, perhaps 50-55% are on the left.

But it cannot seriously be argued that this is a left wing government.

wild said...

Why would anybody in the UK want to read a Leftist blog?

We have a Leftist school system, a Leftist University system, a Leftist State broadcaster, and a Leftist government who extract what they can from us in order that we may become wholly dependant upon a bloated, arrogant, and self-serving Leftist bureaucracy.

Is there anybody who does not know exactly what Leftists think to about everything - to one hundred decimal places?

The Internet has been the greatest shift of power (outside war) away from the Left and towards a free society in two hundred years.

It is akin to a literate serf in the Middle Ages discovering a library which has books in it which reveal that the Earth is not the centre of the universe but revolves around the Sun.

By their deeds you shall know them – read their history and weep.

Why would anybody read the blogs of Leftists who (as the comments section in this blog demonstrate day after day) are little more than hate filled bigots struggling with their envy of those who live happier lives than themselves.

It is only a matter of time before Leftists try to “regulate” the Internet. It is their greatest enemy and they know it. They thrive on powerlessness, fear, and ignorance. Blogs ruthlessly expose them for what they are – and it is not pretty.

The Digger said...

"We have a Leftist school system, a Leftist University system, a Leftist State broadcaster, and a Leftist government who extract what they can from us in order that we may become wholly dependant upon a bloated, arrogant, and self-serving Leftist bureaucracy."You are confusing leftist with Statist. There is a fundamental difference. You can be left-wing and libertarian, or left wing and statist. You can be right wing and Statist (just ask Dick Cheney) or right-wing and libertarian.

Weygand said...

I thought that the article was the usual self-delusional rubbish, as did most who posted comments online.

It missed two crucial issues:

a) Labourlist was set up to be as a propaganda machine for the Labour Party and thus completely different in character from the blogs it wished to emulate, which are partisan but editorially independent.

b) The McBride/Dolly emails showed an agenda to invent wrongdoing rather than expose it.

As for Richards trying to make out that the media are now all jumping on an anti-Gordon bandwagon because it has become fashionable. The truth is that the moral bankruptcy of this administration has now become inescapable to all but the likes of, Richards, Toynbee and Ms Riddell who believe in it as an article of faith.

not an economist said...

"They were quite open about why they were attacking him. He was supporting the government and they regarded this as unacceptable."

Even IF this were the case isn't the riposte be "So What"?

For the last ten years the left wing media has dismissed anything and anybody that stuck their head above the parapet defending/advocating Tory ideas. The most obvious example of this is Toynbee who openly says things like "I dont know why anybody listens to the Taxpayers Alliance as its just a Tory front". How is that sort of attitude any different to what is said in the opening quote? If Richards is correct about Guido's motives then its just a classic case of tit-for-tat.

wild said...

"You are confusing Leftist with Statist".

Actually I was reflecting upon the relentless (in my experience) Leftist content of State education/broadcasting in the UK.