There was an amusing moment in the Bloggers' interview with Nick Clegg on Monday. While Nick was answering a question on cannabis, Nick observed that he saw Alex making a "furtive glance" at Richard when Nick said something. With some exasperation, Nick said that it was almost tougher being interviewed by LibDem bloggers than by journos in the Westminster bubble - "and we're in the same party!"
It was a very funny moment.
We've come a long way, if what Nick says has some truth. One of the first Bloggers' interviews was with Ed Davey,as chief of staff. The first question for Ed from one of the bloggers was a real toughie:
What would you like us to write?
I am sure Nick recognises that, despite subjecting him to the third degree, our write-ups were very positive.
I am very cautious about "bigging up" the role of blogs. There are millions of them and most are read by just one person - the author. You can analyse the role of blogging 'til the cows come home, but in the end there is only one reason for anyone to blog - because they enjoy it. And it is only enjoyable if you write what you feel like - not write what you think someone else will like. And if noone likes what you write - then so be it. If some people read what you write - that's great. But insanity starts with thinking that there is some importance in what you write. There never is, in the grand scheme of things.
That said (and I will now sound like I am contradicting myself - but, hey, that's part of the joy of blogging!), I do think that blogging, particularly political blogging, does have a small "ginger" role and it is one that it is not new. In history, there have always been groups of people doing what bloggers do now - reminding politicians that they are human and occasionally pointing out that the "emperor has no clothes".
In Roman times, the soothsayers were on hand to remind emperors that they were human. There's a little bit of that strand in political blogging as there is in political journalism, and particularly in political satire and cartoons.
One tendency which we bloggers also have, which is perhaps not so attractive, is to repeat the role of the tricoteuse in Paris during the French Revolution.
Oh, my goodness me, we do love to see a head drop into the basket, don't we?!