Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mixing it with The Fuzz

This is worth a look.

At the dispatch box, a minister was daft enough to allow his opponent to identify with a blogger. In this case, a Copperblogger. The said long arm of the law is almost too chuffed about getting into Hansard to be annoyed by the Hon. Members' slight. But not quite.

The minister was asked a question. He gave a glib evasive knockabout answer. And now he's got lots of Plods on his case. Nightmare!

If he had any balls, he'd get involved in Copperblog's comment boxes. He'd have the chance to engage with them and explain his position - and maybe overcome some of the cynicism.

Ex Cllr Andrew Brown in Lewisham did this a while ago when local skaters had a dig at him (before their elders and betters voted him out...). He went into their discussion forum and turned it around somewhat. They didn't go away completely satisfied, but he explained things, got a bit of respect, and learned something. He was able to ask a few pertinent questions of his civil servants, and got the sort of quality reply that you probably only get when the respondent knows it's going to be published.

None of the bog-standard Freedom of Information Act evasions. He picked up a bit of abuse along the way, but he doesn't have an eggshell personality, and these things take time. That's how things should be.

However, I expect that Tony McNulty (the minister concerned) has a battery of unbearable civil servants at the ultra-competent Home Office with lots of 'guidance' and various codes of conduct that would stop him from mixing it in a blog's comment boxes - in the unlikely event that he'd want to, that is....

Either way, I'd mind how you go Tony. Pay attention to the road markings, if you know what I mean....

1 comment:

Andrew Brown said...

I found it kind of disarmed people when I did that kind of thing. For some reason they don't expect politicians to come to them at least not in semi closed on-line forums!

I also never asked permission of anyone and always figured that it was a politician's job to ask people why they disagreed with what we were doing (and then tell them why they were wrong).

It has to be said though that the reply I got wasn't written to be published but I didn't know that until after I'd stuck it up. No harm done in my view.