Monday 20 April 2009

Don't blame blogging for bad politics

Guest post by Ben Brandzel

Clearly, the Labour party has been burned by the recent scandal, and this serves as both a dangerous and powerful lesson for those -- like myself -- dedicated to the Labour cause.

It's a dangerous lesson, because the error could easily be misconstrued as blogging itself, or the entire goal of fostering more open, participatory engagment online. This would be a tragically counter-productive misreading indeed.

It's a powerful lesson, because what this incident actually reveals is that these tools simply cannot be successfully twisted into extensions of old-style politics. Their true power is not in enabling political mischief from the top, but in empowering political renewal from below.

Decent, ordinary people of every stripe are sick of the politics of personal destruction and know our present challenges require real leadership instead. The overwhelmingly negative reaction to even a hypothetical smear campaign makes this abundantly clear. So how does the Party harness the power of blogging and online participation to elevate, rather than devolve, our political discourse? Quite simple: Open it up as widely as possible, and let those same decent, ordinary people lead the way. That's exactly what we did in America to beat back the tide of eight years of misrule and elect Barack Obama to the White House, and that's what it will take to keep good leadership in Westminster.

The principles and guidelines laid out in this eloquent statement by Labour bloggers points the way. The party, and all those who champion its ideals, would do very well to pay heed."

Guest post by Ben Brandzel (formerly of and the Obama campaign, currently founding advisor to

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