Saturday, 9 October 2010

Who's blogging who? How the Guido Fawkes torch passed to a new generation

Among the steepest fallers in this year's Total Politics top 50 UK blogs poll was the "Tory Bear" blog. This scurilious, juvenile yet occasionally entertaining look at political life through the lens of the student right of the Tory party plummeted from 11th place down to 29th in the top 50 list.

It may well disappear altogether next year now that the blog appears to have been largely moth-balled, finding nothing worth blogging about at either the Conservative or Labour party conferences. The blog has bothered to do little more over the last couple of months than champion its chosen favourites in the Conservative Future elections, with brief updates not much more than once a week.

But fear not. Its ebullient and ambitious author Harry Cole has not lost his appetite for blogging or political stunts. Just last month, he was sneaking into David Miliband's Movement for Change rally, though it generated a sketch rather than a scoop. Tory Bear can still be found enlivening the political twittersphere morning, noon and night too.

But blogging takes time.

Anybody already scribbling one leading right-wing libertarian attack blog is going to struggle to keep up another one as well.

The explanation appears to be that Mr Paul Staines - having parlayed the blogging game into an impressive degree of media profile and political notoreity - may increasingly feel that he has become a little too big for this blogging lark. Living the brand is one thing; bashing out the blog may be quite another.

So Staines needs more help with the blog, according to Next Left's sources in the right-wing blogosphere. And so it would seem that it may increasingly often fall to the Tory Bear, Mr Harry Cole himself, to give the readers of the Guido Fawkes website something to splutter about over breakfast. (Though no doubt Staines will take his editor-in-chief privileges seriously, and will still chip in too whenever he feels he has something to say).

Hence Staines and Cole sharing a canal barge in Birmingham at the Tory conference (though they have demanded Cabinet resignations for not much more), with Mr Toby Young crashing too for good measure. The two bloggers have much in common, beyond their shared anarco-libertarianism, and an increased willingness to take partisan political sides rather than claiming a nihilist anti-politics motivation. Both used to exert considerable efforts to discouraging any reference to their real identity (rather in the Clark Kent style of Pixar's Mr Incredible), before realising that wouldn't really work in this new age of transparency which they are both so keen to champion.

Next Left's limited experience of both Mr Harry Cole, and indeed Mr Paul Staines too, is that they have always been unfailingly well mannered and polite in person whenever seeking to eavesdrop on some Fabian Society event or other (somewhat at odds with the successful cultivation of their anti-establishment attack dog personas online).

However, political judgement might be something else.

The Guido Fawkes blog's unapologetic role in the Hague-Myers so-called scandal continues to be a subject of much contention between the Fawkes blog and the other big cheeses of the right-wing blogosphere, such as Mr Iain Dale and the grown-ups at ConservativeHome, who have proved successful at maintaining influence with both the grassroots and the party power-brokers as the party has gone into power.

By contrast, our medium-term forecast for the Guido Fawkes blog is for a further increase in studentesque attack dog politics. (That may well, after all, be what the readers want).

Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy is unimpressed by the Fawkes website's attempts to smear Sadiq Khan (who is currently Chair of the Fabians). Hundal attributes this to Paul Staines. That may be right, though it might increasingly make as much sense to see the website as a whole as a joint Staines-Cole enterprise. (We would be happy, of course, to carry any clarification from the authors as to the correct attribution of the site generally or particular aspects of it).

For it would seem that the torch has passed to a new generation over on the right-wing blogosphere too. We shall all watch with interest.


Old Holborn said...

You forgot to mention my part in the great conspiracy

Maelo Manning said...

Blogging is a wonderful way to debate political issues. If 'attack dog politics' becomes the main news associated with blogging in the way newspapers smear people then blogging has lost something.