Blog off

I SEE that someone over at Iain Dale’s Diary has left a comment to the effect that I shouldn’t really have time on my hands to blog, what with being an MP and a minister and everything.

This is becoming an increasingly common criticism. But is it only aimed at politicians? Or does it cover everyone in full time employment? And are those who tell me what I should be doing in my spare time the same people who object if they think that politicians are telling them what to do?

So, for the avoidance of doubt: blogging does not interfere with my job in any way. I don’t interrupt ministerial meetings by saying: “Oh, can we take a break there? I’ve just thought of a great idea for season five of Doctor Who…” And I don’t cancel advice surgeries to review visitors’ comments.

I enjoy blogging in my spare time. If you have a problem with that, no-one’s forcing you to read this. For the rest of you, what did you think about Catherine Tate as Donna Noble…?

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17 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Doctor Who

17 responses to “Blog off

  1. Richard

    Get back to work.

  2. Frank Davis

    I think that the real objection to blogging is an authoritarian objection to anyone having their own opinions. As a blogger, you are expressing your own opinion rather than the Labour party’s diktat. And anyone who replies is doing much the same.

    Authoritarians and totalitarians don’t like this sort of independence of mind. MPs (and everybody else) should be kept sufficiently busy to disable them from thinking about anything they ought not to be thinking about (the EU, 42 days, smoking bans,etc.). These matters should be left to experts and other authorities .who will in due course tell people what to think.

    Much the same criticism is thrown at Boris, who is supposed to be too busy as mayor of London to write for the Telegraph. Another man with a worryingly independent attitude to life.

    As for Catherine Tate, well, she seems to wear an almost permanent look of horror on her face..

  3. You have spare time?! Is this what I pay my taxes / party membership for etc etc ad nauseam….

  4. wrinkled weasel

    There are three kinds of politician who I consider are safe; MPs who have wealth in their own right, having inherited or made a packet before entering Parliament, and MPs who have a large majority, such as yours. (And of course old politicians.)

    What the three have in common is that they can afford to say what they like within reason, knowing that the consequences of being frank are not fatal. They are less prone to bullying from the whips, less worried about losing their jobs and as a consequence, more likely to behave like proper human beings, and more likely to tell the truth.

    I get flak over on Iain Dale for being nice about Tony Benn from time to time. He is an example of someone who never gave a hoot about what people think. His “signposts and weather vanes” analogy always rang true for me.

    So, I guess your strength is that you having a whoppingly safe seat. You can use it to make a difference, without fear of losing it, or become supremely complacent. Somehow, I don’t think your particular constituents will let you do the latter.

    As to the very pressing and important final point, I think Catherine Tate’s problem is that she was never a team player. Her strength is in character comedy on her terms. The last episode of this series confirmed this. She looked lost among the very fine actors in what was a quintessential ensemble piece. Plus it is an almost inviolable rule that the hero must have an adoring side-kick. Even these days it is the case, though the side-kick might play hard to get first. Catherine Tate doesn’t do “adoring” and from that point of view the chemistry never worked for me.

  5. Keep going Tom! While people might have a whine there are plenty of us reading your blog with interest and we would not want you to stop.

  6. Andrew F

    It’s just a partisan dig at you, Tom. No thinking person honestly believes that writing about 500 words a day is reasonably beyond the means of a minister.

    And we should god every day that Daily Mail readers don’t decide the schedules of ministers: you’d be burnt out in a week if you didn’t have time to blog/do whatever you want to.

  7. Frank Davis

    Actually, I think better of MPs for blogging. Any who do so open up another line of communication with the general public. Well, anyway, as long as it’s a real attempt at two-way communication, and not just another way of one-way-broadcasting their pre-digested opinions. Very few MPs seem to do it. Which means, as far as I can see, that most MPs don’t want to engage with the public at large, and are content to dwell in the bubble of the Westminster village. Which is what I already thought about them.

  8. Stu

    I think they made a mistake getting rid of Catherine Tate. I reckon they only realised what a mistake it was after it was too late. Unless, of course, she left the show and told them she didn’t want to do another season.

    Of course, nobody in Sci-Fi is really ever irretrievably gone. All they have to do is invent the thingamebob that can save her.

    Anyway, You Can’t Stop the Blog. MPs should communicate more with the electorate – really it’s part of your job description. You could probably get any incurred expenses paid for by the taxpayer, in fact…

  9. And besides isn’t two-way communication part of your job, so isn’t it even better than you’re doing your job in your spare time!

  10. Johnny Norfolk

    You see Tom we pay your wages. You dont pay mine. If I pay your wages then I am entitled to make comment and ask for justification on what you do. I know it is difficult for Labour people to get their head round it as they think it should be the other way round but it is not.

    You do appear to be far more open minded than a lot of the others in your party, but you serve the public not the other way round.

  11. I think all MPs should have a hinterland and if blogging is yours, then that’s just fine!

    Really!

    However, I do think at times it is a challenge to blog and to have a full time job. I just about manage it by setting myself a target of 2 blogs a week (I’m not a ‘news’ blogger, so it kind of works); most of the time I can do more.

    BUT if anything extra happens, for example recently I had too look after my very poorly, elderly dog, then blogging goes out the window.

    I do notice those bloggers who blog like mad for a while and then a free lance job comes along and they just go very, very quiet! I’m the opposite, when I’m not on a contract I have to be dragged back to my computer and hardly blog at all!

    Blogging and working full time isn’t a walk in the park but it can be done…and you should continue!

  12. James

    Reasons to keep Blogging:

    1) You’re getting better at it
    2) You allow comments (I know good Conservative MPs who won’t)
    3) You’re not afraid to print the adverse comments
    4) You do not allow or make crude comments or swearing
    5) It is one of the best (and cheapest) forms of communicating with the public

    As for the time element, you will have plenty of that spare when you get exterminated at the next GE

  13. Following your blog has transformed my understanding of the ministers who come and go through my professional life. And the blog is fun, too!

  14. Firstly, I only came to your blog for the first time today via the spoof defection story Iaian Dale had.
    Secondly, it’s excellent (not excellent “for a politician”, but excellent).
    Finally, this criticism of you (and others) for taking time to do this is perverse. I suspect the same people are outraged when politicians appear “distant” and “not interested”. Rather like John Lloyd’s book a while back predicted, it’s an example of people getting the politicians they deserve if they’re not careful.

  15. Matthew Cain

    I am delighted that you continue to blog. In the absence of a worthwhile political media, a forum like this helps humanise politicians.

    I applaud your courage in continuing an honest dialogue with us.

  16. Couldn’t take to Catherine Tate at first, but she got there eventually. Glad to see she’s gone though. As for his new companion, how about one of the Cheeky Girls?

  17. Simon

    Keep blogging! It makes politicians more normal and that’s got to be worth doing.

    On the more important issue Catherine Tate wasn’t bad, though she wasn’t amazing either. She certainly didn’t deserve the criticism she got, but I can’t say I’m sorry she won’t be around next season.

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