As he surveys the fallout from emailgate (or McBridegate, or Smeargate, or even Redraggate), David Cameron might initially feel rather pleased. But young Dave, as befits anyone who took a First in PPE, is not daft. He knows that there is a difference between a body of opinion that opposes the government, and one that supports the opposition. Thus the blogosphere.
Blogs are not a new phenomenon. But they are a recent one. Check out the timelines: in 1997, the last time the party in power changed, we had the Web, and we had email, but blogs were not yet on the radar. So there was no body of opinion expressed in the manner of present-day blogs organised against the government of “Shagger” Major, although the feeling may have been there.
Were there to be a change of governing party, what would happen to the present loose coalition of anti-Labour blogs? The worry for Cameron and his pals is that, put directly, we don’t know. At present, there is a commonality between blogs that are generally Tory supporting, and those which are, more or less, looking to inflict damage on Pa Broon and his entourage.
I’ve previously considered that, on the strength of noises coming from the Tories, the country under their control could be in for spending cuts and increased unemployment. In this scenario, any coalition of bloggers featuring Tory supporters and government haters will quickly come under pressure as an incumbent Tory party has to confront a series of difficult choices, losing popularity and membership as it does so.
Tory supporting blogs will face the choice of becoming apologists, or breaking with the party mainstream. Government hating ones will have to choose between retaining their credibility and losing it – and I predict here and now that this choice won’t detain the main protagonists for long. If the mood in the country becomes anti, then the blogs that do not address that sentiment will cease to lead that particular corner of the blogosphere.
Use the blogs, Dave? That’s the problem – you can’t.