The Indie Fan’s Guide To Political Blogging

December 3, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Blogging about blogging | 7 Comments

“Well over there there’s friends of mine. What can I say? I’ve known ’em for a long, long time. And yeah they might overstep the line, but I just cannot get angry in the same way.”

That Alex Turner recognised as a teenager what many political bloggers still can’t see in adulthood either speaks volumes about his eye for observation or says a lot about political bloggers’ lack of it. In ‘A Certain Romance’, Turner takes us on a tour through the bawdy, boozed-up bruisers of Sheffield’s pub scene: the ‘kids who like to scrap with pool cues in their hands’, and the fellas who, after a couple of cans, “think it’s alright to act like a dickhead.”

But it turns from an almighty whinge to a funny & true observation when he starts making excuses for his own overly-raucus mates. By doing so, Turner outs himself as a hypocrite, acknowledging that there’s probably someone else making the same snide jibes about his friends that he’d been making throughout the song.

For all our elegant words & pristine paragraphs, the political blogosphere is really just as rife with these affectations as some low-rent West Street Wetherspoons. Because politics arouses strong emotions, fierce loyalties & intense antipathies, many of us are guilty of deploring in our adversaries that which we might ignore in our allies.

I’ll wince at the overwrought rhetoric of Glenn Beck, but won’t mock Keith Olbermann when he has his own little melodramas. I’ll happily march a conservative’s factual errors around the blogosphere, but won’t be anywhere near as circumspect at fact-checking every standard-bearing leftie. These little omissions & hypocrisies are probably inseparable from our personal investment in certain parties, policies or ideologies; the most we can do is accept that they do exist, and try to curb our worst excesses.

Alternatively, you could try this brilliantly mischievous bit of writing:

I used to like Sunny. I always regarded him as someone you could do business with. Not any longer. His site, and his Twitter feed have become full of the bile and sheer nastiness that he pretends to deprecate.

Sunny’s crime was to call certain writers ‘fuckwits’ who push ‘global warming denialism’. Now, Iain can’t really complain about the ‘bile and sheer nastiness’ which is meant to be on display here: after all, he’s on good terms with a right wing pretend teddy bear, a right wing pretend devil and a right wing pretend terrorist. For all those bloggers’ virtues, Dale would at least have to admit that they’re occasionally, well, intemperate, and so complaining about strident language would look a little hypocritical.

So Dale opts for a more cunning line of attack: it’s not that Hundal is intemperate, it’s that he’s a hypocrite because he claims to be the font of fair-minded, Socratic debate.

But that’s actually a rather odd misrepresentation. For as long as I’ve read him, Hundal has always been a confrontational blogger. His archives are full of pieces arguing that fire should be fought with fire – or preferably napalm. At a time when Obama was trying to end (or at least diminish) ‘the culture wars’, Hundal was arguing for them to be stoked until they were won.

And yet Dale still characterises Sunny as a man who likes to prance barefoot through the internet like some self-styled blogging Ghandi. Seriously, you can tell that he doesn’t read Liberal Conspiracy often, ‘cos I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

Nor does the rather clichéd haw-hawing about LC being illiberal ring true to anyone who’s read it: the site frequently features liberal advocacy on any number of issues: education, immigration, criminal justice, voting reform, prisons, libel, foreign policy and drugs. It’s campaigned hard against ID cards, restrictions to womens’ reproductive rights and the government’s anti-terror detention policies. Are these not liberal? Or are they just convenient omissions that come from ignoring all those posts on actual policy?

Still, we should welcome his call for a proper, calm debate on climate change, and stand with him as he protests the cheap name-calling of people on the other side of the issue. As a show of good faith, Iain will hopefully be equally outspoken in condemning those who slime environmentalists as fanatics, ‘preaching climate change religion bollocks’, enviro-fascists, smug, sanctimonious and hysterical zealots. I hope he’ll also point out that those who describe climate change as ‘today’s religion of choice for the left’ are not really doing much to encourage that ‘proper, calm debate’ he longs for.

I would dearly love for that to happen. Alas, I suspect he’ll find that – in the words of Alex Turner – he “just cannot get angry in the same way”.


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  2. Great post!

    But in the political blogosphere, we know which side wears tracky-bottoms tucked in socks, don’t we?

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