Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Parish Notice

This is what a reader called Hampstead Owl wrote in a comment earlier.

Everything you put here these days seems to be either a puff for, or a report from, your various extra-curricular activities, be it publishing books, presenting radio programmes or hanging out with Ann Widdecombe in various unexciting provincial theatres.

Are you feeling that you are out-growing mere blogging? Are you preparing to shut down and move on?

The markets are starting to get twitchy. I think we should be told.

I get rather tired of comments like this so let me answer the points mad once and for all. Funnily enough, if I do mention that I am presenting a radio programme, it's because strangely enough many readers do like to listen. Indeed, many complain when I don't alert them that I am going to be on. On the Queen's Speech Forum, again, I felt that readers might like to either attend or watch it live on their computers. Some may, some may not. Again, I felt readers who live near Lichfield, Birmingham, Chelmsford or Salisbury might like to see the Widdecombe theatre show. And some did, as I know from my emails.

And yes, if my company publishes a book I think my readers might be interested in, damned right I am going to mention it. Wasn't the Peter Watt book relevant to this blog? Weren't the libel issues raised by the Schillings threat to us over the Rooney book relevant?

Now, if people think none of the things I have blogged about above are of interest then they will not return and seek their blogging pleasure elsewhere. Fair enough. It's a free market.

There are times when any blogger has fallow periods. I have them myself. There are also times when my life is very busy and I don't have time to blog as much I might like. This week is one of those times. There are also times when frankly I have nothing to say. And the worst kind of blogging is just to do it for the sake of it. I try not to fall into that trap, but I am not always successful.

I'm certainly not "outgrowing blogging" as my correspondent seems to think. Yes, I have had thoughts about the future direction of this blog - as I do most years. But why on earth would I think of shutting down the very thing that defines me in politics and the media? I've always said I would stop blogging when I didn't enjoy it any longer. And believe me there have been periods over the last eighteen months or so when I have been sorely tempted. But in the end the positives outweigh the negatives. And when I get emails - as I do most days - from people telling me how much they appreciate what I do, I feel I would be letting them down if I stopped.

So all I am saying is that because it is not my job, it's not what I do full time, there will always be a lack of consistency in the frequency and quality of my blogging. Most of my readers understand that. But I thought I would spell it out for those that don't.

End of self justification!

UPDATE: This comment from Nigel Hooley on my Facebook page sums up entirely the point I was trying to make...

Excellent point well made. If it wasn't for the blog I would not have listened to so many excellent radio shows, seen so many Sky news paper reviews or indeed bought a certain fantastic book about a certain footballer who we hope will win the world cup golden boot.

Keep on bloggin'


Doktorb said...

Iain, the whole point of blogging is, surely, that there are no firm rules about what can and cannot happen to them, or their content?

Blogs are not mainstream media, that's the point. You're not outgrowing blogging, you're just taking your blog in another direction.

Anonymous said...

It's your blog, do whatever the hell you like. If people don't like it give them a full refund.

Anonymous said...


The world of political comment and gossip has gone flat post-election.

There really is not very much going on and I suspect your followers and commenters, like me, are finding this vacuum, disconcerting.

Good on you that you have a real life and whilst it is one very much related to politics, it is the sad anaoraks who still think that politics is a febrile, minute-to-minute source of excitement and entertainement who are out of touch with reality.

The interns have been sacked, the campaign professionals are being pensioned off, the coalition is going to last and whilst we are all going to have a bit of fun commenting on the Labour leadership contest, frankly, there is little to make waves in politics for a couple of years.

There will be cuts and tax rises. There always are at the start of Tory Governments because socialists leave a mess behind. The public are already bored and really don't want to be bothered again for a while.

You push your radio show and puff up Ms Widdecombe. There is little else to do and you followers and commentators ought to recognise that. Mind you, don't tell your advertisers!

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain, let's face facts here. In all fairness, you are a media whore. There's no denying it. That's not a criticism, you understand - I think it's probably the best way for you to be. You do it extremely well and long may that continue.

The blog does have a one-subject tone on occasional days, but so do most others. It's impossible to keep everyone happy all the time. Keep doing what you're doing.

You're a pioneer for many bloggers out there, including several who don't want to admit it. And as soon as some things in my life are sorted, I hope to start a blog myself. You're part of the inspiration for it. Count that as a compliment if you want...

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, how dare you not provide the same quality and quantity of coverage as the whole Daily Telegraph team do ? You should be ashamed of yourself.

That critic should exercise his right NOT to open your pages, and leave those of us who value you both for yourself and as a portal to the wider blogging scene, to get on with what we enjoy.

Alan Douglas

Unknown said...

You're a very sensitive boy, aren't you, Iain?

The slightest suggestion that you are not perfect has you veering between tears and tantrums. Genuine criticism has you in a rage and deleting comments.

It's very, very sad and a clear sign that you lack the intellectual maturity needed to function as an effective parliamentarian. It's also a sign that you're pretty much on the same level as the fools who've spent the last 13 years turning the Mother of Parliaments into the biggest running joke in the country.

Unknown said...

@Alan Douglas

I quite agree. Anyone who makes a comment that is not 157% supportive of everything published in a blog should be banned - banned, if not shot in the head and buried in a shallow grave!

Still, at least Iain has bold fellows like you ready to pre-emptively agree with anything and everything before it's even posted. It's high time we had more people ready to take a stand against objective judgment and free-thinking opinion.

Iain Dale said...

Q, I haven't deleted any comments.

it may have escaped your notice that I am not a parliamentarian and have never made any assertions as to my intellectial maturity.

Now piss off.

Maverick Ways said...

Mr Dale,

I have a great idea: why not do a survey and find out what your readers want?

Oh, wait a minute, you've done that. So you know what your readers want.

So why not publish it on your blog so that Hampstead Owl can read it?

Oh, wait a minute...

Lauchlan McLean said...

I and thousands of others would very much miss your blog if you did decide to stop. As with other posters who follow you are aware that you have been very busy on other media following the pre and post election period and are aware that we are entering a temporary quiet period until the dust settles and we get into the Conferance season

Osama the Nazarene said...

As a regular reader of this blog I fully recognise that you have a living to earn and may run into these fallow periods.

Hampstead Owl is exhibiting signs of "cold turkey" because s/he's so hooked on regular high quality contributions to the blog. Tough titty for him/her.

I'm also pleased you let us know about your appearances on various media outlets and try to listen / view your contributions.

Fianlly your Seven Days contribution to Tory Radio is a weekly must. Not "dilettantish", unlike Guy News!

Thorpe said...

I think most readers of this blog are here for the politics and political gossip.

Hampstead Owl is clearly turned off by "puffs" for Iain's other commercial activities. I'm not, but they don't enthuse me either. To me, it's a necessary part of Iain's commercial life, and if he couldn't make some money in those then doubtless there'd be no blog.

I'm not enthused at all (in fact, I'm becoming increasingly irritated) by various posts on the blog that seem to me to advocate a mono-dimensional homosexual agenda, particularly as those posts appear to abandon the sense of proportion or mental discrimination that is true for the other posts and become "my sexuality right or wrong". But that's just me, and I've made that point to Iain in my feedback on his reader survey. This is Iain's blog, and not mine to try to influence his editorial direction. If Hampstead Owl leaves, well someone else will arrive. If I leave, no one will notice, mind, or care, and that's just the way it should be.

In short, if you want a "perfect" blog, well go out and write one. If you want Iain's blog 90% of the time, well put up with the wrinkles that you see.

wild said...

I think that if people get something for free, if they do not like it they should simply go elsewhere.

As far as I can see the personal attacks on you, as opposed to the frank but polite disagreements with your views and actions that are posted in the comments section of this blog, are motivated by little more than jealousy.

I think the fact that you very rarely delete comments is to your credit, and is one of the reasons you are widely held in such high regard - you truly believe in a free society.

Another major contributor to your blogging success is that you obviously work bloody hard, and I am pretty sure that the vast majority of those who read your blog are (quietly) in awe of your achievements - notwithstanding your appalling taste in music.

Look on the positive side, at least your critical readers prevent you from getting too big headed.

HampsteadOwl said...


You really are the most touchy and thin-skinned individual. If my comment offended you I apologise, though there was at least one line in it that should have told you that the tongue was in its cheek.

If there is a serious point here it is this.You yourself raised the question of the future of the blog not long after the election. And it is clear from your various posts that you have lots else going on and, indeed, are meeting with growing success in other ventures such as publishing, broadcasting etc.

Based on that, it is not unreasonable to speculate that you might be starting to think the blog has had its day. You say that your blog "defines" you, but perhaps you'd rather be defined as a broadcaster or a publisher or a multi-media megastar. After all, why not? Anyone can write a blog; not everyone can succeed in the other sorts of things you are doing.

Since there are clearly people out there who would slit their wrists if you ever gave up blogging, I plead a public interest defence in just raising the question. I guess you can say that you have answered it. Shame you had to fly off the handle over it however.

Anonymous said...

Dear Q and Hampstead Owl,

I rarely read the comments on this website; I only did today because I wanted to say something supportive to Iain. I, and I suspect 90% of other readers, don't give a toss about your opinion and think your comments are rather rude. If you don't like the blog, why not go and read something else? I wouldn't blame Iain if he did delete your comments, which he hasn't, probably because he wants people to see what smug and self-important individuals you are.

I enjoy reading the blog a couple of times a week but when there's nothing on it to interest me I get on with my life, rather than leaving whiny comments about it as if Iain has some sort of obligation to keep me entertained.

Unknown said...

I made this point in my tweet to you Iain, but I'll make it again.

Wayne Rooney's book was too far. I supported you in everything else you did (even when I thought it smacked of self-promotion, I supported all the book profiling).

So, yeah, I'm going to keep subscribing, because I love what you do, and I'm just going to be a big boy and get over the fact that you thought serious politics junkies would enjoy a book about Wayne Rooney.

Thanks for all the great work.

Danny Law said...

oh take no notice of people like that -

as you say - its a free market - if they dont like it - they can go somewhere else.

i like the links you give to other stuff you do.

so just know a lot of us out here very much appreciate what you do.

keep on bloggin'

Iain Dale said...

The Rooney book post was not to puff the book, it was to highlight the outrageous behaviour of Schillings in trying to stop it from being published. The post highlighted why our libel laws and privacy laws need to be changed.

Unknown said...

You can't please everyone so stop trying. Your survey told you things were fine. The odd whinger is to be expected.
I don't listen to your radio shows and rarely watch the newspaper reports - mostly because I forget - but have no problem with you telling us about them.
Rock on.

Anonymous said...

So this morning you were upset because somebody didn't like your play. This evening you are upset because somebody currently doesn't like your blog. Only a couple of weeks ago you decided to be rather unpleasant to a protester who dared to disagree with you on your blog.

Grow a thicker skin, please. You are at your worst when you are blogging about meta-issues like this. You are coming across as rather petty.

Its your blog so do what you like, but this is feedback... Please don't name or shame or ridicule me for being honest. Just read it, and choose whether to take it in, or ignore it...

alistair said...

Perhaps its just me but I like to hear about other things going on in your life, it helps the understanding of your opinions. Also some of the things you do and places you get go to are interesting. I like those bits. Keep on bloging

Matt Wardman said...

If you do switch your direction, why not? Everybody else is doing it, as the landscape has changed.

It's not as if it takes half an hour *not* to read an article, is it :-)

Magical_Mist said...

Have to agree. I switched on LBC the other night because I read that you would be on at that particular point.

I think you have quite a nice voice, that it 'soothing' to listen to.

I visit your blog daily, and enjoy it a lot. I do find it slightly annoying when you don't make any posts for a while, but that's my fault because I check your blog on multiple occasions each day!

You keep a good blog ;)

PS - stop all the damn Top 10 etc!

Chris O'D said...

well I bought the rooney book

only a third through - weird writing style but interesting

keep it up Iain disagree politically with you but admire your work

Unknown said...

I agree with the central accusation about you, Iain. You HAVE changed and not for the best.
You provide the Schillings story as an example but fail to mention your bizarre posting on the Guardian website yesterday. Had you responded to emails-as you always did in the past-you wouldn't have complained. A response to THREE emails is now still awaited, something which would never have occurred with the old Iain.

Alan Douglas said...

Q : It's high time we had more people ready to take a stand against objective judgement and free- thinking opinion."

It is even higher time that people like you who seem to revel in only negative comment are countered by optimists, of which I count myself one.

Any arsehole can criticise (as you have just proved). Not that you care, but if I have an issue with Iain or other bloggers whom I generally approve of, I take it up quietly by email.

Not ALL of us can belong to the 13-year destructive machine called New Labour Spin, some of us choose to remain true to our own values, and be targets for the arseholes to aim at, so that you.

Alan Douglas

Thomas Rossetti said...

Iain, you are absolutely right about blogging. You should just ignore this silly man.

I do worry that you seemed to be upset by what he said, though. You need an extremely thick skin to survive in politics and I'm not sure you've got one.

Unknown said...

Further confirmation that Hampstead Owl is onto something here. These lawyers seem to think Iain's criticisms were unjustified and it is a non story.
Iain-Pull yourself together. even your appearance on Radio 5 last week was embarrassing-The public has no interest in whether or not your mother approved of your "husband" before you "married" or whether she listens to programmes in which you discuss your sexual preferences

Sean said...


You do a great job on this blog.

But I bet you every reader would do it just a little different if s/he were running the show.

Of course anyone else has the opportunity to do just that - set up their own blog and see if they can get the readership.

Null said...

Iain, I was about to advise you to tell the moaning f**kers to piss off, but I see you are already out of the blogs on that one.

You will know whether you are doing right or wrong by watching the traffic flow to each page. The numbers don't lie.

Personally, I think you do a good job with this blog. It is free to the end user, and it helps, in one way or another, to provide you with an income. Whats not to like?

HampsteadOwl said...

Oh dear Pete (and to some extent others). Why is it that people like you simply cannot cope with a point of view different from your own without becoming offensive?

Anyway, next time I choose to say something controversial I think I'll go for an easier target - the Prophet Mohammed maybe - where there are fewer fundamentalists to deal with.

For what little it's worth, I wasn't criticising the content of the blog. I am also in total agreement with that hugely erudite argument that if I don't like it I don't have to read it. But surely one of the characteristics of a good blog is other people pitching in, and if everyone who took issue with the blog host just went away, it would soon get very dull indeed

The point about the content I was actually making was different: : that its increasing focus on the other things Iain is doing might lead us to conclude that he is moving beyond the blog and could even be planning to wind it up. Iain has since answered that point, albeit I thought in an unnecessarily crabby way (I know I don't have to read it).

Clearly I touched upon a sore point, but even though Iain is not an elected politician he has also chosen to put himself in the public eye (may even be starting to tick some of the boxes marked "national treasure") and can hardly complain if some people start to ask questions about his intentions or his motivation. I don't know Iain, but think well enough of him to believe that, in his more placid moments, he might agree with that. Not sure about some of his more fanatical supporters, however.

Given the number of Dale fundies there are obviously out there, I hold to my earlier defence that what I was raising here was a matter of extreme public interest.

Roger Thornhill said...

Well done for out growing blogging, Iain, but that does not mean you end blogging, just that "only blogging" is not enough for you.

Hampstead Owl is trying to cut a tall poppy.

Unknown said...

"Weren't the libel issues raised by the Schillings threat to us over the Rooney book relevant?"

Relevant, and, judging from the fact that Private Eye has featured them in its latest issue, newsworthy.

Ignore the carpers.

JB said...

I've read your blog since 2005, and as my blog list has changed through working at a think-tank, and asset manager and now as a trader, you have always been on it. I only read four political blogs now but I have never thought of dropping yours!

Unsworth said...

It's quite extraordinary how many people seem to believe they have any right whatsoever to tell you how to run your own business. As others have said - your blog, your time effort and money, your choice.

'Only trying to help' is so often the claim. I get pretty close to homicidal when I hear that phrase. Why do these people think they have anything at all to offer? Utter morons. Apart from anything else, bloody bad-mannered too.

wild said...

"The public has no interest in whether or not your mother approved of your "husband" before you "married" or whether she listens to programmes in which you discuss your sexual preferences"

Maybe Iain should check with you next time he decides to share any personal information with his listeners. You obviously have his best interests at heart. If only it were possible to thank you in person.

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain Dale said "The Rooney book post was not to puff the book, it was to highlight the outrageous behaviour of Schillings in trying to stop it from being published."

Yes, but you can't seriously argue that the extra publicity will be harmful for you and your company, will it?

Stephen Wigmore said...

Hear, Here, Iain.

Keep doing what you're doing mate. You make a very good job of it.

jdr said...

Repeat after me

ENGLAND is the Mother of Parliaments

WESTMINSTER is NOT the Mother of Parliaments - merely one of the wayward children

ENGLAND is the Mother of Parliaments

WESTMINSTER is NOT the Mother of Parliaments - merely one of the wayward children

ENGLAND is the Mother of Parliaments

WESTMINSTER is NOT the Mother of Parliaments - merely one of the wayward children

and so on . . .