Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Slow Newsnight Day

Along with several others, my post about Ming’s turn at the Circus Maximus has generated attention in blogs by Newsnight Deputy Editor Daniel Pearl and (…nearly) top Tory Iain Dale. I actually noticed these at the weekend but, whoops, I’ve been too clobbered by the heat or generally slothful to write about them since. Anyway, I thought I should wave. I suspect Mr Dale is rather more familiar with blogging than Mr Pearl: one knows above all that bloggers are hugely partial and love to be read; the other’s charmingly naïve (and thinks a fluffy elephant’s a top Lib Dem).

Yes, I know, this is blogging about blogs about my blog about a television appearance to tackle media spin, so it’s all got a bit ‘Blog Will Eat Itself’. Apologies to those of you wanting something more substantial, like The Avengers. To put it into perspective, I’d recommend a series of blog articles on this issue by the excellent Stephen Tall, who kindly describes me as “impeccably fair”. Among his pieces, he notes that the members of the public who took part in the programme have been far more positive about Ming than the world of journalism, which is just as incestuous but rather less generous than the blogosphere. He also replies to Newsnight’s Daniel Pearl, including raising some questions about his programme. Unaccountably, four days later Mr Pearl is yet to respond.

Another reply to Mr Pearl comes from my good friend Millennium Dome Elephant. His Very Flurry Diary was one of the two ‘Lib Dem blogs’ to which Mr Pearl linked (eventually; although I’d read his article, it was some time before he fixed his links and I realised I was in there). It’s a little strange that none of the 150 replies to Mr Pearl’s article note that he thinks a fluffy elephant is a prominent Liberal Democrat, nor that he illustrates “Two very contrasting views on LibDem Blogs” (well, I’m on Lib Dem Blogs Aggregated, at least) with, er, two views that generally agreed. It’s nice to be read and talked about, but I wondered just how balanced that was – I know, I know, I’m such a Liberal that I worry about balance even when it’s being provided by my other half’s fluffy elephant and me. I’ve scratched my head and had a look at our blogs, and I think I know the answer to why he picked us. Like everyone else, Mr Pearl and his chums at the BBC like to be talked about. A cursory glance at either blog will find, of all those in the latest Ming debate, probably the most enthusiastic support for the BBC. For example, I’m watching The Avengers on BBC4 as I type and I suspect you’ve noticed my partiality to Doctor Who; meanwhile, Millennium’s generously allowed Richard to write probably the most incisive reviews on the Internet of the new Doctor Who series. So thanks, Auntie Beeb, for plugging two of your fans.

Either that, or Millennium’s fan Mr Frank Luntz – who felt the need to give Millennium the longest reply of any Lib Dem blogger after he was caught being a stealth Republican – has encouraged all his (possibly former) friends at the Newsnight office to read The Very Fluffy Diary ever since. Any day now, one of them will probably slip and refer to the Tory Leader as “Mr Balloon” (please feel free to).

Anyway, hello again, Daniel!

Meanwhile, if you’ve not seen it, Iain Dale’s Diary is a teemingly busy blog – I don’t know how he finds the time; it’s a hugely impressive output – that’s fun to read for its vitriolic anti-Labour gossip, and from which continuing Tory sleaze is mysteriously absent (I’d ask you to guess the party of this fearless crusader for truth, but I’ve already blown it, haven’t I?). Mr Dale describes me as “a little more generous” to Ming than Rob Fenwick; blimey, I thought, was I that mean to our dear Emperor? You can tell Iain was a little worried Ming did pretty well by the way he jumps on poor old Paul Walter for being upbeat: take a look at how he characterises Paul’s comments with ludicrous hyperbole; then says Paul’s losing his marbles; then, unlike Paul, uses ludicrous hyperbole of his own to describe Ming. When someone goes so out of their way to squash something, you wonder why – as Goldfinger nearly said, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is frightened the enemy’s getting their act together.

Sadly, Iain didn’t put a link on his blog to Millennium. It’s possible he thinks he’s too dignified to respond to a cuddly elephant. Either that, or he’s worried about a new satirist on the block.

In moderately good news since last blogging, the government has announced the abolition of the Child Support Agency, after only about a decade of the Lib Dems calling for it to go; well, I say abolition, but apparently it’ll still be around for a few years to look after… All the people who have already been complaining about it. I’m not quite sure they’ve thought this through.

In unremittingly bad news, I’ve been trying not to blog about what the Israeli military and Hezbollah are throwing at each other and everyone in between; what is there to say? But getting tired of bombing civilians from the area and declaring war on the United Nations is appalling even by the standards of the Israeli army. Words fail me.

Alex - please, please do a video debate on Ming between yourself and Millenium. It's a bit Ralph Nader, but I think you can pull it off...
But surely Ralph Nader was talking to himself, and I'd be talking to Richard's fluffy elephant...? I mean, I have a relatively big nose and am quite hairy, but I don't look that much like him.

Tragically, we don't have any video devices, either (aside, obviously, from watching them). I might ask Millennium if he'd be interested in someone filming him at Conference, but I suspect he'd be a little nervous. Could he be voiced by an actor? Ideally Tom Baker?

That's what he really sounds like, you see, but when he's nervous he tends to sound ever-so-slightly like (cough) Richard doing a Tom Baker voice ;-)
It's a shame BT's text service no longer provides translation into Tom...
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