Let the reader beware – In blogs we trust

Blogs are great, aren’t they? Informative, entertaining, interesting. They are any or all of those things and more. Plus there is a blog for every topic under the sun. Whatever your passion, there’s a blog out there for you. Now I follow a lot of blogs and most of them are on politics and current affairs. There’s a few sports ones, some friends personal blogs, some on cookery, some on fitness, and some randomly hilarious ones. But the majority are on UK politics and news. Being a Labour supporter, I tend to follow more blogs of that ilk than others, but I do follow a few Libdem and Tory blogs too. Know your enemy, as Sun Tzu rather famously recommended.

But, before I move on to the enemy, here are a few blogs I’d recommend. First, The Audacity of Pope mainly for Conor Pope’s hilarious Blog The Week v-logs, but also for the other comment on there too. Next, for generally thoughtful, insightful and occasionally irreverent political commentary, Hopi Sen is a must read.  In these trying economic times, it’s good to know a bit about the subject. Chris Dillow does a great job of clearing the fog for me over at Stumbling and Mumbling. For political blogs not necessarily all about the Westminster village, I thoroughly recommend Andrew Gwynne MP’s blog on Think Politics. And, finally, for words of wisdom from inside the House of Commons plus commentary on Doctor Who you can’t do better than Tom Harris MP’s And Another Thing. There are loads more I could mention, and I may do that another time. Have a stroll through my blogroll if you have the time.

By all means, read as many blogs as you have time and interest for. I hope mine continues as one of them! But now for a word of warning. I’ve found in my browsing of many blogs that it’s important to be wary of what you read. Just like newspapers, don’t take everything at face value. Not that many blogs will tell out-and-out lies. There’s no point if they (a) want to hold onto readers and (b) want to avoid being sued for libel. But blogs, especially those with a specific agenda, are prone to representing things from an angle which most supports their views without actually giving you the whole picture. And, whilst biased myself, I have to say I find the Right-leaning political blogs more prone to this than most.

A classic recent example is Paul Staines writing on his Guido Fawkes blog. There he produced the following quote:

Michael Wolff writes…
“In Conservative shorthand, Osborne, the brilliant tactician, will become the brains of the party; Boris Johnson, the party’s most charismatic figure, its soul; and Cameron, the most media-ready of the new blood, its face.”

If you’d logged on to his blog and read this post, you’d think Michael Wolff had written a really complimentary positive article on Cameron and the Conservative party. If you actually go on to read the whole Michael Wolff article, published here, you’ll see that it actually isn’t that favourable a sketch. It also contains quotes like

“I don’t believe for a minute he believes protecting the N.H.S. is a good idea,” says Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, the Tory-leaning weekly, with some mixture of disdain and admiration.

Or

“He is, I believe, much more conservative by nature than he acts, or than he is forced to be by political exigency,” says Tory M.P. and Oxford friend Ed Vaizey.

Of course, I could be using Staines’ trick of just picking selective quotes to make Cameron look bad. That’s my point really, dear Reader. Caveat Lector.

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