SBR8: Why you should pay attention to bloggers (again)

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s roundup! I think there’s been a lot of brilliant blogging this week. It’s a shame that I’ve had less time to read them over these past few weeks.

In case you were doubting the relevance of blogs, a little intervention from Matthew Taylor, Tony Blair’s strategy advisor, provides a few clues as to why you might want to listen up. Taylor criticised blogs for being:

…generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.

To which bloggers responded en masse: “Well, if politicians weren’t so venal, stupid and mendacious then we wouldn’t have to!”

Will P has a brilliant post on this issue. He sees Taylor’s comments as anti-democratic.

We shouldn’t fear blogs, we should be excited by them. For the first time outside the newspaper letters page (and even that is subject to editorial control), the people have a medium to present their opinions to a wide audience, and to discuss ideas with people from across (and outside) the country. Now we are all journalists. We are all commentators. We all have access. That’s a good thing. And for Mr. Taylor to complain that we aren’t saying the right things, in the right way, with the right intentions is supreme arrogance. Mr. Taylor is wrong.

I’ve taken a big quote out of it, but, as they say, read the whole thing.

Bookdrunk also has a good post on Taylor’s comments. She notes that Taylor implies that only the centre can decide what counts as “mature discourse”, and only the centre can decide when a complaint is justified. Democracy, eh? Bookdrunk also notes that if the mainstream media didn’t do their fair share of lying, bloggers wouldn’t need to be so angry in the first place.

Meanwhile, Mr Eugenides has this to say:

Blogs are merely loudspeakers through which ordinary people voice their frustrations with the way they are governed… If you’re going to be tough on shrill, be tough on the causes of shrill, too.

Away from the celebration of blogs though. It turns out that biometric passports can be hacked. Who didn’t see that one coming?! Will Howells compares Nick Clegg’s response to the news to that of the Home Office. Meanwhile, Garry Smith has a cheeky suggestion about what we should use biometric identifiers on the National Identity Register for.

Will P asks, when is it acceptable to hold a referendum? He notes that Labour have had some fairly strange answers to that question in the past and criticises Labour’s opposition to a referendum on independence.

Grant Thoms criticises corruption in Westminster. He says that the Mother of all Parliaments has become the whore of all democracies. Thoms suggests that independence would rid us of Westminster’s corrupt culture. But while it would be nice to think that moving politicians to another location would suddenly make them all less corrupt, I somehow doubt it.

Shuggy lays into those who want Sundays to resemble a “waiting room in the dentist – on a national scale” by forcing shops to stay closed. He has a novel suggestion for those who supposedly find shopping on Sundays stressful. If it’s so stressful, don’t do it!

While we’re on religion, Clairwil is fed up with those atheists who are just about as fanatical as religious believers.

Scottish Political News takes a look at the latest unemployment figures, which show UK unemployment to be at a seven year high. He criticises the Scottish Executive, reminding us not to forget Nicol Stephen’s role — or non-role, as the case may be.

Following the resignation of education minister Peter Peacock, there was a minor reshuffle in the Scottish Executive. Holyrood Watcher noted that those who were promoted were once again Labour men from the west: “The mafia takes greater control”.

Mr Eugenides has written an open letter to Rosie Kane. It’s fair to say that if you’re an SSP supporter it is probably best to avert your eyes.

The Devil’s Kitchen considers Fairtrade.

…the fucking stuff is far more expensive that it should be given the minute extra that the farmers receive; someone is making a lot of cash out of the whole business and it is not the farmers themselves.

Finally, one of the twentieth century’s most influential economists, Milton Friedman, died this week. Neil Craig isn’t fully convinced that free market solutions are always the best, but he found Friedman impressive. Meanwhile, David Farrer notes the personal debt he owes Friedman.

Right, I think that will do for now. Remember, we could always do with your suggestions. If you see anything interesting (it doesn’t necessarily have to be on a blog), then do let us know by emailing scottishroundup [at] gmail [dot] com.


  1. Excellent post.

    The article you refer to made my blood boil when I read it. Mr Taylor calls for new ways in which the public can engage in consultation with the Government, but when the public DOES take the trouble to get involved in an official Government Consultation, their views are treated with contempt.

    During the consultation regarding proposals to bring in new laws to deal with Extreme Pornography, over 71% of individuals who replied said they felt there was no need for a change in the law. The consultation itself was extremely biased and misleading, but despite this, the overwhelming majority of those responding put forward well reasoned arguments as to why these proposals would make bad law.

    Their views have been totally ignored and Labour is pressing on with this, regardless.

    Please spend a few minutes checking out the background to this on my blog at:

  2. I just spent 18 months working with an incredible Scottish leader, I love the Scots! They are smart, have a sense of humor and play a good round of golf. By the way, his name is George D. Wells, he came over from Scotland and helped build the seminconductor business in Silicon Valley. His book, The American Dream in a Kilt can be found at
    I always learn something from him about people, business or life – a great Scot!