Political bloggers

Speech to the Government Smart Forum. It was a bit like walking into the lion’s den to give the Liberal Democrat position on ID cards (against) because – as the Chair pointed out – most of those in the room stood to gain financially from the relentless march of the ID and smart cards.

In the event it was good fun – and seemed to go down well. And given what the Chair said, I though it was a moral victory that in the straw poll vote at the end the room was pretty evenly split – only marginally in favour of database and ID card! But as the Chair also pointed out – those who voted against may not have been against the card or database – just the idea of this Government implementing and administering it!

Straight on to interview with Channel 4 for a package on blogging. There is a small, but definitive band of us who the media come to for stories about political blogging. Guido Fawkes, Recess Monkey, Iain Dale, me and David Miliband – on the whole. The blogs are all quite different and we all have a different approach and purpose with our blogs.

Ben Cohen, the interviewer, asked me which blogs I read – and I had to confess very few. To be frank as an MP I don’t get any time (although I would love to spend my time doing so) to enter the blogging community in that way. He asked me what I thought of David Miliband’s blog, and I had to confess I had never been onto that site – although I have heard it is pretty bland. Hey – he’s a Labour Minister – what did you expect?

The interesting point Ben brought up was that both Tories and Lib Dems are encouraging their troops to get involved in blogging but Labour isn’t – and therefore is missing out on this movement which is at times breaking news itself. But an army of bloggers saying whatever they wish – Labour nightmare! Especially at a time like now … (Though they shouldn’t be scared. At the time of my party’s leadership travails earlier this year, it was tricky to blog at times – but being able to communicate via blog helped me explain to people what I was thinking and why and things were better for that).

The Lib Dems are taking blogging more and more seriously – indeed I’ll be handing out a “blog of the year” award at this year’s party conference. (If you are a Lib Dem blogger going to conference, see the blogging tips on the party’s website).

And lastly – Blair’s ‘announcement’. I thought it was masked incandescent anger. As for Gordon – he did what Blair forced him to do: give him support. If Labour have any sense (and judging from early rumblings after the announcement sense isn’t their strong card at this moment in time) they will now shut up and concentrate their fire on the Tories. But that would mean breaking some very ingrained habits. We will see!