Sunday, 22 June 2008

Westminster Village -1 Blogosphere - 0 ?

I wonder whether, now the dust has settled a bit, some of the excitable blog chatter about the David Davis resignation looks a bit daft. Remember, the pitch was that it was the "Westminster Village"* that was out of touch with popular sentiment by reporting the resignation as a reckless act. Outside the Mainstream Media (or MSM in bloggertarian speak) the public was right behind DD in his heroic stance on civil liberties.

What was notable though was that the past week didn't see the Westminster Village change its version of events. We haven't seen the Tory leadership swinging behind Davis, and if you read the political gossip the story has continued to be one of other MPs (on both sides) continuing to paint DD's action as rather questionable. If Andy Burnham hadn't had a pointless dig I suspect that would have become the dominant version of the story this past week.

More notable still has been the reaction out on t'internet. I think the initial shock of the decision prevented immediate responses from critical voices, allowing the pro-DD crowd to dominate. But after a bit of time plenty of critical bloggers' voices have started to appear. This isn't surprising - even a quick glance at DD's record makes it extremely hard to view him as a staunch defender of liberal values.

Most striking has been the discussion of DD's resignation this week on a couple of messageboards I go on every now and then. Err... there hasn't been any. Although there was some initial positive commentary, I get the impression that people are confused and/or already bored by the DD campaign.

This makes sense to me. Although the resignation initially played to the generalised desire to land one on the Government (and the political 'establishment' in general) there are a number of forces acting in the opposite direction. One is the that polling repeatedly shows that the public (rightly or wrongly) isn't opposed to the government's plans. Another is that as soon as DD's other views have been examined in greater detail it becomes much harder to see what the big point of principle is (it's not easy to argue that locking up an innocent person for several months is worse than executing an innocent person). A third is the well-known argument about the nature of the contest. If DD romps home against the monster raving loonies what has he proved?

So as much as I am, like many bloggers, no fan of amateur kremlinologists (copyright Paulie) I wonder whether on this occasion their rather less excitable take on DD's campaign isn't going to prove to be the more accurate one. Maybe the blogosphere (or the right-leaning bit of it at least) called it wrong this time?

* Apparently this doesn't include blogs that are obsessed with political gossip by the way.


Praguetory said...

We're in the lull. Of course the initial excitement has worn off. Whilst events are being planned, money raised and messages honed there is less activity. It will ramp up again.

Of course the Conservative Party leadership won't rally behind DD - the support of the Lib Dems is contingent on not making the campaign party political. I'd advise you to hold your judgment. By the way, many in the MSM have admitted that they called it wrongly initially.

Tom P said...

Hi PragueTory

Maybe you're right, it could still take another turn. But I wonder whether he will struggle to get voters to turn out in an election with no real opposition.

Plus there's a small chance you might get Labour and Lib Dem supporters who want to embarrass him voting in numbers for the Loonies.

Praguetory said...

It will not be easy to get the vote out. Therein lies the challenge. I think DD's greatest problem is getting Conservative activists energised without the benefit of a party machine.

It's certainly a tightrope, but I think he knew that at the start.