A big moment for the NHS – and for blogging

February 10, 2012 8:03 am

Today marks a big moment – not just in British blogging history, but in British political history. The decision by cabinet ministers to go to ConHome calling for the health bill to be dropped is a breach of collective responsibility, that much is clear. That they have briefed ConHome anonymously makes very little difference – Tim Montgomerie is a scrupulous character who can be taken at his word. These cabinet ministers, whoever they are, are angry. And they want this bill dead. Or perhaps “taken out and shot”.

What is particularly instructive is the choice of medium. I won’t be so trite as to say that this is a coming of age for the blogosphere – that moment came long ago and the big political blogs are now an established part of the political geography. But what this represents is an escalation of the elevation of blogs as a platform for shaping actual policy. These cabinet ministers are going to ConHome because they know this is a potential route to getting the bill dropped.

In times gone by if you wanted to reach the Tory grassroots you’d have gone to the right wing press. Now there’s a growing realisation (in all major parties) that political blogs speak to a specific and crucial constituency – opinion formers and activists.

Although our politics are poles apart, I have always have had a soft spot for ConHome editor Tim Montgomerie. And although his definition of where the “mainstream” of British politics lies seems a fair distance from the actual mainstream, that’s clearly just the tactics of a canny operator who wants to shift that mainstream. Well today he’s certainly shifted the centre of gravity in the Conservative Party towards his blog, and his grassroots voice.

And what of us in the Labour blogosphere? Our part of the web is still maturing, but the pace is picking up. Our style may be different to ConHome’s, but at LabourList we promise that we’ll always speak for the grassroots, and for all of the different strands of opinion within the party. It’s what we’re here for. Influencing and shaping debates and policy is a huge part of what political blogs do – and must do.

It’s great to see the mainstream media begin to catch up with that reality, at last…

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad Labour has finally woken up to the attack on the NHS, I thought Miliband and Burnham so far had been weak very weak on this , thank god they have  found some  back bone and do not tell me they have been doing it for a while it was pathetic.

    • Ian

       it was lightweight under HEaley but Burnham said ages ago he would repeal, all that has changed is everyone has followed us in saying ‘drop the bill’. In the big issues we are being proved right.

      • Dave Postles

         I think Burnham’s playing a blinder; sadly, Shirley Williams is not.

  • Ian

    I think Mark it is significant a blog on the right of Cameron has these minsiters coming to it.

    In fact I go as far to suggest this could be the first in a long war over Cameron’s future.

  • Janiete

    It is significant that the mainstream media are only interested in Montgomerie’s blog because it has generated a Westminster interest story. On the ground, there is widespread anger about the NHS reforms from all political viewpoints but as yet, the press and broadcast media have not reflected that. People are extremely angry about the push to put NHS provision in the hands of the private sector and the absolute denial of any democratic voice in this process.

    The mainstream media has a very long way to go before it recognises it has a responsibility to report the view of the people not confine itself to narrow journalists’ interests and the Westminster bubble. Until then the blogsphere will continue to be the only place for public discussion and traditional media will continue to decline.

  • TomFairfax

    Maybe more pertinent is that Tim Montgomerie is seem to be a person of integrity and that is not a word associated with the press currently.

    Realistically he has to play honest broker and referee between different views from different perspectives from individuals he has no leverage over, as part of the day job.

    In the press it’s all about pushing the proprietor/editor’s agenda and protecting circulation.

    I suspect it’s wanting to be taken seriously, and not being written off as part of any paper’s ‘out to get Cameron’ campaign that should be considered. Plus only having to rely on one person to keep their identities secret.

    If this had been in the press, names would have been asked for, and doubt cast on the report.

    It’s a credit to his reputation, not ConHome.

    There’s no reason you can’t achieve the same if you want to Mark.

Latest

  • Comment Europe McFadden’s appointment comes at a time of big opportunity for Labour on Europe

    McFadden’s appointment comes at a time of big opportunity for Labour on Europe

    Pat McFadden is taking over the Europe brief just at the time when the issue can work in Labour’s favour. Provided we hold to Ed Miliband’s decision not to cave in to the calls to offer an in-out referendum. Europe is again becoming toxic for the Tories. How Cameron must be looking back wistfully to that time when he told his party to stop banging on about Europe. That’s exactly what it is now doing. And it’s largely his own […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The Next Portillo Moment

    The Next Portillo Moment

    Undoubtedly the highlight of election night ‘97 was seeing Labour record the unlikeliest of victories where I live in Enfield Southgate. We did it through hard work, at the time all three Enfield seats were blue and though the Labour swing meant that Edmonton and Enfield North were going red regardless it took a special campaign lead by an extraordinarily good candidate in Stephen Twigg to record what was an iconic victory in the Party’s history. We held the seat […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The business backlash against Tory EU exit plans 

    The business backlash against Tory EU exit plans 

    It’s not just José Manuel Barroso who has warned David Cameron that his party is taking the wrong approach when it comes to talk of an EU exit. There is a clear sense of concern and anger from the UK and international business community in respect of the Tory plans for an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in 2017. This has led to a serious business backlash against the Tories. Standard & Poor’s, the international rating […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Miliband sets out 5 point immigration reform plan (but won’t join “Operation Pander”)

    Miliband sets out 5 point immigration reform plan (but won’t join “Operation Pander”)

    Ed Miliband is in Rochester today, where he’s campaigning for the party’s by-election candidate Naushabah Khan against what he called the “two Tory opponents” of UKIP and the Tories in the Rochester and Strood by-election. But the main purpose of Miliband’s speech was to set out what Labour’s approach to immigration will be – specifically an Immigration Reform Bill in the first Queen’s Speech of the new Parliament. Miliband announced it’d be based around five key principles (most of which […]

    Read more →
  • News Sadiq Khan asks Mansion Tax critics – how would you fund the NHS?

    Sadiq Khan asks Mansion Tax critics – how would you fund the NHS?

    Since Labour conference, the majority of Labour’s potential London mayoral candidates have been critical of the party’s Mansion Tax proposals. However one presumptive candidate has been consistently positive about the plans – Sadiq Khan. That’s understandable and expected, as he’s a Shadow Cabinet member and a Miliband loyalist. But Khan has now launched a public defence of the tax (calling it “absolutely fair”) and a broadside against critics, asking them “why they are opposed to hiring thousands more nurses and doctors […]

    Read more →