Friday, October 13, 2006

On Politics 1

Last night I put a comment on Guido Fawkes. The post was about the Sion Simon video. Most of the 50 odd comments then (like the 100 plus now) were dim-wittedly abusive - 'What a prat!' etc. I couldn't understand why anybody should bother to do this - of course, he's a prat, haven't you anything to ADD? My comment was, 'What are you all actually talking about. Politics? No. What then?' A subsequent response pointed out that I just didn't 'get' Guido's blog. I have been thinking about this. (This is On Politics 1 because it is potentially very long and I don't like the look of long posts.)
Politics, as I understand it, is argument, debate, conflict and manoeuvre about the best way to run the country and the world. Individuals are important in this context, but only onsofar as they influence these matters in the outside world. In the mid-nineties politics was redefined. The second term of my definition - 'about the best way....' - was downgraded or even removed and the first term became dominant. Blair and his spinners are usually blamed for this, but, in fact, the roots are much deeper. Apart from anything else, Blair had no choice but to protect himself against the kind of press savaging John Major endured. Either way, it happened, and the political press accepted it. Subsequently political coverage became, in essence, either a Westminster soap opera or a juggling of government-defined 'issues' or 'initiatives'. A decade later, this has become what, in most people's minds, politics is. So, in that sense, my question to Guido was misguided (misguidoed?) . All these dumb-ass abusers were talking about politics.
On Politics 2 to follow and possibly 3, 4 and 5.


  1. You are indeed missing the point. Political journalism is not about issues or the evolution of debate; it is a form of sports reporting. Who's up, who's down? What are the tactics? Who's slipped up? Which personality has an embarassing sexual or pharmaceutical secret? Any attempt to probe issues like right or wrong, effective or ineffective is instantly dismissed as wonkery and pointyheadedness. Parliament is not reported as a matter of routine anymore - even though the Commons is more rebellious more often than at almost any time since the war - and Bills are frequently rewritten to meet the concerns of obstrepperous MPs. And even when such things are reported the substance is seldom mentioned - it's all about what this will mean for Blair.

  2. I don't do self justification, but Bryan you are missing the point.

    Guido is about political entertainment. To quote Roy Greenslade Guido is the "bastard lovechild of Kelvin Mackenzie and Popbitch"?

    My agenda is entirely negative. To ceaselessly expose our political class for what they are - despicable scumbags.

    If you see politics as show business for ugly people it all becomes more comprehensible.

  3. It is simply bizarre and, from a great deal of personal experience, simply not true to say that our political class consists of despical scumbags. There are slightly more scumbags in politics than in other businesses, but only slightly. It is also glib to come up with that old line "show business for ugly people". But thanks for the response, though it is disappointing. Of course, I understand that Guido is about entertainment. My question is: how has politics become the occasion for this form of entertainment?

  4. You're right Bryan. Guido is desperate to be the rebel, yet desperate to be a member of the lobby. Desperate to be one of the lads yet desperate to be accepted by the establishment. Indeed, as soon as Francis Maude invited him to the tory party conference he couldn't get there fast enough. Then he regaled his readers with tales of how pissed he got. His inner psyche reminds me of that of Malcolm McDowell's character in the film 'If', when McDowell went on the school roof with a machine gun and wasted the masters and headmaster because he couldn't get his own way. Pity him. For he is likely to be the architect of his own downfall.

  5. Brian
    I think you're missing something about Guido - that he is really Paul Staines, a man with a very long history supporting the right in this country (Thatcher) and elsewhere (heading off to Nicaragua to shoulder a Kalasknikov with his friends in the Contras). He made a large amount of money on the rave scene, has a series of offshore companies [tax-efficient, no doubt] to support his online ventures, and presents himself in a way that will sucker the more gullible lefties [Alex Hilton, known as Recess Monkey] into alliances.

    But his agenda is to undermine the left and create the conditions in which his friends can rule again. Read what he says and does in that light, and do not underestimate his guile or ability.

    Guido is doing low politics and using modern methods. Those who dismiss him are making a mistake. Those who engage with him on his terms are also making a mistake.

  6. So should we dismiss Guido or engage with him Bill?