When visiting my mum yesterday I told her that John Prescott (or JP as he is affectionately known in the party) had taken up blogging, ‘that’s good news’ she said, ‘he could do with losing a bit of weight.’ ‘No mum, he is a blogger, not a jogger’ though I have to say the mental image of JP jogging is one that I was keen to dispatch as quickly as possible.
Should we be surprised that JP has taken up blogging? Not really. If you were to choose two words that people today use almost daily that they never used or had even heard of five years ago, the words would probably be 'iPod' and 'blog.' Just a few years ago, blogs were relatively rare. Now there are millions. They're devoted to every topic imaginable, from football to flower arranging, from Big Brother to Big Bands. There are some 37 million blogs in the world, with a new blog created every second, yes, every second. The'blogosphere' (according to Wikipedia, the 'collective term encompassing all Web logs or blogs; blogs as a community; blogs as a social network') doubles in size every six months. It is now 60 times bigger than it was three years ago, with 1.2 million new postings each day — about 50,000 per hour.
Political blogging has become immensely popular in the UK over the past couple of years. Blogs like Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale's Diary receive hundreds of thousands of hits each month and are proving to be influential in setting the news agenda ahead of the printed and broadcast media. Apparently one of things that has attracted JP to taking to the keyboard is the fact that blogs help take the media out of the hands of the corporate world and put it into the hands of anyone with a computer and an internet connection. I honestly think that JP’s tentative steps into the blogdom are to be welcomed. I have long been of the view that the main political parties here in the UK have been rather slow to exploit the potential influence of the humble blog. Politicians that seek to engage with their constituents, who are able to get almost instant feedback on local, regional or national issues are much more likely to be in a position to shape policy and to help meet the needs and aspirations of those they purport to represent. Blogs offer a simple, efficient and effective means of doing this. Likewise they offer a powerful means for ordinary people to set a political agenda in their own area or even nationally. Blogs matter and they are having an influence. Blogs are less important because of their direct effects on politics than their indirect ones - they influence important actors within mainstream media who in turn frame issues for a wider public.
John Prescott is living proof that blogs are becoming ever more important in politics and to politicians. Good for you John.