As predicted yesterday, the events of the last 24 hours show how personal, nasty, and petty the political blogosphere can become. The frustrating thing about it is that Labour has found it hard to adjust to the world of political blogging. And now they have started to play, they have played absolutely the wrong game. They have gone for tabloid-esque rumour, slur and gossip. By playing the wrong man and wrong game they have dropped the ball. In so doing, as I discussed yesterday, they have allowed the big egos of the political blogosphere to claim the moral high ground. Hopeless really.
On the issue itself, I agree with comments made yesterday by Tom Harris and wholeheartedly endorse the comments made by Alastair Campbell about this approach being incompetent. The Labour party has to set the very highest standards and then meet them. We fell short. That's it.
David Cameron and George Osborne have been so woefully wrong on the economy that I do have grave concern about a future Tory government. It will set the UK back economically and will harm our reputation and influence in the world which makes us less able to defend our strategic interests. That is a powerful argument that should be made continuously until the next general election. Make that argument lucidly then a fourth term becomes a possibility. Events such as this weekend detract from that clear argument. From Labour's perspective, that's the real pity.
Finally, a comment about blogging to expand on my comments yesterday. I was a sceptic at first but decided to give it go when I was in the States covering the Obama campaign just over a year ago. It was a travelog as much as anything but then I saw that it provided other opportunities for self-expression. Hundreds of other people see the same thing: that makes for a diversity of voices and perspective. For me, that is the hallmark of a healthy democracy and blogging most definitely has something to contribute. That is strongly in the public interest.
My fear is now, as it has achieved its first major scalp, blogging has started, in political consciousness, to move into the mainstream. The danger is that it will be seen as an opportunity to wash the sort of dirty laundry that not even the tabloid press would touch. If that is to be the case, it will have a specialised audience based around the Westminster Village rather than a broad audience tapping into the diversity of opinion in UK politics. I hate to say it but this weekend may come to be seen as the UK blogosphere's 'Drudge' moment (though on a much more petty scale). I don't celebrate that- and it's interesting that one of the people at the centre of this describes his blog as being 'anti-politics'- remember that. I just look at the fantastic range and quality of the post-Drudge US blog sites (see my links to sample a few that I read) and stay optimistic.
Post script: Are you following me on Twitter? http://twitter.com/anthonypainter