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It’s time to pack in blogging for the summer. At a recent meeting with my staff, I put forward the idea that maybe, now that we were receiving 700,000 hits per month, that just maybe I should carry on.
They all, in unison, shouted NO!
They are of course absolutely right, for reasons detailed below. I apologise to those who may have read the following blog which I wrote whilst on holiday last year; but as we were only getting 100,000 hits a month at the time, there are a lot of readers who haven’t read it.
I am taking away a shed load of books with me , the boxed sets of West Wing, Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives; and I shall now be spending a few weeks toasting, reading and watching all the telly I miss throughout the year.
Have a great summer everyone……
Deciding whether or not to blog, in my capacity as an MP, was a huge decision. I almost gave the, "Shall I,? Shan’t I" process much more consideration than I had even given to my decision to stand for election!
After all, there is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, or in the case of blogging, betwixt keyboard, journalist and the entire planet.
Every MP guards carefully – especially in the era of 24/7 news coverage - every public word we utter, in a manner that could almost be described as manic. We have all watched, in open mouthed horror, the pain endured by colleagues after a careless whisper flitted from tongue to international newswires in a space of nano seconds.
Surely, only an MP wishing to commit professional suicide would put spontaneous thoughts or ideas into the public arena - on a blog?
Blogging is a medium, which by its very ease of unforgiving transmission, does not provide the opportunity for second thought editing.
One can easily visualise the dramatic downfall scenario, brought about via an unguarded sentence blogged and posted late at night; it would manifest in the form of an off the cuff remark or a throw away comment, intended to humanise a paragraph. Such a comment would be a mere sideline to the main content of the message I would be attempting to deliver in my two finger typing non Pitman or Gregg college graduate way.
Think; type; click; and save - done. A 'ten years taken to get here' career taken out by a blog Exocet in just three easy moves.
What would be my excuse when the journalist gleefully nabbed me? After all, journalists hate bloggers – it is this which makes blogging such a dangerous pastime for MPs.
Blogging waters are infested with rare basking shorthand enabled career munching Piranha, equipped with notepad, pencil and a scalp hungry editor
What would be my defence?
Well M'laud, (or a very scary Chief whip, as has so often been the case). It was late there was wine and music; I was in a particularly happy carefree frame of mind; I got carried away with the passion of the observation? Unfortunately, I would, very sadly, be talking to myself; no doubt addressing my remarks to the wooden studded panels of the Chief Whips door, so recently slammed in my face, with the words "you‘re finished" ringing in my ears.
As we know, all political careers end in failure; however, blogging provides new MPs with an opportunity to reverse this trend, why not begin in failure?
Whether or not to begin each day playing Russian roulette with words as bullets, did indeed take some thought.
To be fair, it wasn't just the danger that blogging can present to an MP which made me think twice - it was the other bloggers. Did I want to become a member of this group - could I cut to the chase with the rest of them? Did I want to?
I am sure there are millions of bloggers, but there are only a handful of really good ones.
You can divide political bloggers into two categories;
Egotistical rubbish - they are many and use the internet as a means of extending their already overly large personalities and opinions.
To opine? Is that what blogging is all about? The transference of opinion from one otherwise insignificant individual to the indifferent masses?
There are limits, as to what technology can achieve. Blogging can take the horse to water, but it can't make it read. The egotist is largely unaware of this, having dumped his thoughts into cyber space, he or she will naturally assume that the world's computer owning population will have both read, digested, and allowed their words to influence the daily lives of others.
You can spot them a mile off – they are usually the ones talking to me at the death by canapé fundraiser.
The second category is one of unassuming excellence - I mean that in the most literal way; unlike the egotists they are wordsmiths with serious attitude.
Whether it's an incredible brain with deep political sensitivity, or a penchant for bright ties and yet another list, they have no master, their thoughts are transferred to the screen with no audience profile to please.
Intellectual thought runs riot across the keyboard and is as good as, if not better than, anything written by any mainstream political editor or commentator. Brain to screen to reader in seconds. Cue the reason why political journalists hate political bloggers.
Where are the Emperor's new clothes anyway?
I eventually succumbed, I found my blog niche; after all, what is the point in doing something that everyone else is already doing?
My niche is the de-mystification of Westminster. I like to think that I some small way I take Westminster with all it's strange ways, into the homes of ordinary people like me, through the prism of an MPs ever so unremarkable way of life.
And here I am, at it again - sat with my laptop on the balcony of my rented holiday villa in Spain. Far away from the cautious Westminster atmosphere; nothing to anchor me to the usual second thoughts, which I do occasionally have whilst walking through the corridors of power, pondering on what metaphor I can employ to illustrate an observation I have witnessed - which will never leave my brain until exorcised by a blog.
No danger of sighting an eminent role model to make me think "one day I want to be like you - so I had better re-phrase that comment". No Whip to shout down the corridor after me "Great blog yesterday" to make me think "you are happy with me today, which makes life so much easier - so what exactly was I going to write, which could spoil today?"
No telephone calls from my Association Chairman; no political emails to deal with.
I am in a very serious blogging danger zone.
If I were to slip up, it would more than likely happen on a night like tonight.
When the hot sun has gone to bed and the underwater lights in the aquamarine pool twinkle and beckon; the jug of Sangria on the table next to me screams, "more ice"; the heady scent of Bougainvillaea fills the air; and Jose Gonzales plays seductively in the background, wooing me, egging me on.
There is a beautiful Batik print on the balcony wall of the Madonna and child, it's looking down on me; the warm sea breeze is making the candles on the table flicker, playing tricks with my eyes.
Every time I look up, the Madonna tut tut's at me and shakes her head in mild reproval.
Unfortunately, I don't think even the Holy Mother can help me once I have blogged on. It's between me, the circling shoal of out to get me Piranhas; a loaded gun; an Exocet missile; a suicide wish; the Chief Whip; and the save button.
I wonder why more MPs don't blog?
Back in September.