Maybe it was the over-stuffed surroundings – the Grand Comittee Room of the House of Commons – but last night’s ‘blogging and politics’ event, organised by The Work Foundation and Vox Politics felt sort of important. The long-hairs and the suits, the iBook trendies and the wonks (even a few Trots) – and all three of the currently blogging MPs – all in one room (and a room with wi-fi) for the first time?
Tom Watson, MP and heavyweight blogger, explained the simple, day-to-day benefits he and his constituents get from his weblog. A US ‘e-democracy expert’, Steven Clift, said that weblogs might never have any big democratic effects but will certainly alter politics. Political columnist (and alleged neo-con) Stephen Pollard gave four or five good reasons for journos to blog – not least it seems to be a good way of using up uncommissioned story ideas. Contributors were practical, un-euphoric. Weblogs as tools for connection with constituents, accelerated idea gathering, better accountability.
Chairman James Crabtree from the Work Foundation worked the crowd well – Tom Coates sputtered at the stupidity of ‘reputation management’ for bloggers. The usual ragged RCP plant from Spiked! limply debunked blogging – clash of ideas, real politics, blah blah…
Sasha told the story about the blogger, the local councillor and the person from Transport for London getting together to actually do something useful in her community. There was some useful to-and-fro about centralising, control-freak pols vs. out-of-control, hyper-accountable bloggers ? deserves a proper work-out, that one. Wikis came up ? I’ll bet that was a first for the house ? and Tom Watson (our blogging MP) was encouraged to put up a PolicyWiki. Very good idea, I think.