On the difference between Blogging and Plogging

There was some commotion in political blog circles over the Darbyshires’ blog and a local spat they had with one of their rivals. Apologies if I have some details wrong, but it appeared an acquaintance became disgruntled with them over various things, and started spoofing their blog. While there was much that was funny and eminately spoofable about the content of their blog, the spoof was a somewhat mean spirited and nasty act. But while I agreed with the Darbyshires’ about the motivations of their nemesis, they were quite naive in threatening legal action without first seeking advice. Parody is not libel, particularly when the spoof didn’t even name its targets.

However while all this was going on the Darbyshires’ blog was attached to the LibDemBlogs aggregator, and read by many who weren’t enamoured by what they were seeing. I was saddened by some of the reactions, both out on the blogs, and on email lists with one person haughtily complaining about the number of blogs that have personal content on them. I believe this point of view to be both unhelpful and misguided. People involved in politics need to have lives and both their colleagues and supporters need to know they have lives.

While I regularly read the blogs that talk solely about political matters, I derive more pleasure from reading those that stay off the political topic, because in reading them I feel like I’m connecting with friends, albeit some of them friends I have never met.

Because, dare I say it, it’s important to know the people campaigning to make the world a better place are real people, much like those that can be found on any street in any town. Human beings, not alien species called “politician” and “activist”. Real people have real lives. The best campaigners know this- why for example did the flyer enticing me to go and help Willie Rennie, a by-election candidate in Scotland[1], metion his success in the Scottish coal carrying championships, and Tim Farron’s election literature feature him raising money on a fun run? Blogging or campaigning on thigs outside the political sphere, does not however, preclude having a private life, and does not excuse any intrusion onto the same.

And dare I say it, while there’s a place for political and economic theory in politics, and no place for knee-jerk pandering to fear and ignorance, all politics at all levels needs the benefits of the multiple perspectives of people from different backgrounds and lives. Because if it doesn’t it will lose touch and no amount of reading the paper via the web or listening to focus groups can rectify it. In short both politicians and activists need real lives outside of politics and any day job in order to do their political jobs properly.

While I respect those who’ve chosen to subjugate the blogging medium to their own ends and blog solely about politics, we can’t all be walking textbooks on political theory and philosophy. And it’s just as well we’re not.

[1] Unfortunately I can’t with my broken leg

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