Prescott's sleaze makes blogs get serious

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

The first signs of the significance of Guido’s involvement in the story came from Nick Robinson of the BBC and David Aaronvitch getting all self-rightous about bloggers. Here’s Nick:

Incidentally, this is another example of some blogs trying to make the political weather. First, they demand to know why the mainstream media – and, in particular, the BBC – are not covering an alleged �scandal�. Then they report unsubstantiated allegations which have been denied by those involved, which some newspapers then report as second hand news.*

The Observer* opened the more serious coverage with Net Provocateurs invade Westminster on 9th July:

The effect has been extraordinary. By the week’s end, the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, was trading cyber-jibes with the blogging duo. Prescott’s biographer Colin Brown wrote darkly in the Independent of a Tory-inspired online plot to bring down the deputy PM. And if there were any doubt that British political blogs had come of age, it was dispelled on two of the old-media preserves of political discourse: the BBC’s Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today Programme

Newsnight interviewed Dale about the Prezza blogs in mid-week. The next morning, Today’s John Humphrys – taking his cue from allegations on Guido’s blog – grilled Prescott about claims of further extramarital affairs.

The next day, its daily stablemate The Guardian picked up the theme with How the net closed on Prescott and a leader from Emily Bell:

Prescott certainly has his own ideas about what is contributing to his falling stock – the black arts, as he styles the techniques of the right-wing blogger

But, once you stray outside the media press, you’d be hard pressed to know this was happening. Sure, intelligent bloggers like Brian wrote about Guido’s success. Guido himself has not been slow to point out his success in comparison with Comment is Free. But, outside these circles, there was a resounding silence.

That is, until Saturday. I was first alerted to the chance by Guido himself, who thanked The Telegraph. That caused me to brave the grim humidity of the afternoon to pick up a copy of the paper, where I found a DPS about blogging partly about the sacking of attractive, blonde blogger La Petite Anglais (and the cynic in me thinks that the �pretty, blonde� part of the equation was a factor�), and also a leader mentioning Guido:

Our own specialist and foreign correspondents daily flesh out their reports, printed in these pages, with comment on A rash of political bloggers has also emerged in recent years – most of them, such as and Guido Fawkes’s site,, soundly Right-wing. And as the case of the English bloggeuse, sacked by her French employer for her anonymous reflections on her work life, shows, the medium offers an elevated platform for the humble and downtrodden.

Again, I can’t help feeling that the combination of an attack from the blogging right being something The Telegraph would approve of, and the fact that it broke the Petite Anglais story have a significant amount to do with this publicity. But that doesn’t change the fact that the story is there, in the mainstream pages, and is helping change the perception that blogging is all about teenagers angsting online from their bedrooms. And that has to be good for those of us trying to do serious things with blogs.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.