Anyone who deviated from the official party line – as laid down by a self-appointed uber elite of British bloggers – faced a cyberspace lynch mob, more in keeping with Nazi Germany than a country which is supposed to pride itself on its support for free speech.
For the self-appointed uber elite of British political bloggers, the fact that someone, not of their number, and who did defy their three line-whip on the Iraqi interpreters issue – was nominated – and then won, in a free public vote, the title of “Best UK Blog” in the most prestigious prize in blogging, is too much to bear.
In the case of the Iraqi interpreters campaign, “self-appointed” we may be. The very nature of single-issue pressure groups is that they consist of people who stand up for a cause they believe in, filling a void that is not being filled by other organisations or political parties. We have certainly never claimed a democratic mandate, or to speak for anyone other than ourselves. The campaign gains its authority, and support, entirely from the strong arguments we have made in favour of the Iraqi interpreters.
Neil’s post on Friday matters, and is deserving of a response and a criticism, because he misunderstands, or perhaps misrepresents, the nature of the debate. The outcry that followed his “Iraqi Quislings” issue was not some orchestrated, strategic smear. It was not the fact that he had crossed or questioned the party line that raised hackles. Rather, it was the reactionary and ill-considered manner of his objections which provoked a response. Bloggers from the campaign were right to vigorously defend their stance, and should not be criticised for doing so. It is a shame that Neil now chooses to ignore the substantive points in the arguments, and instead retreat to ad hominems that so readily invoke Nazi Germany. It is odd that someone who has just won a best blogger online poll, should immediately resort to such a discredited line of attack. As Sunny says: bizarre.
Unity, another self-appointed uber-liberal uber-blogger, takes a fisk to Neil’s article. Given my comments above and earlier today, I suppose I should say that I do wonder at the efficacy of ‘fisking’. I fear it will simply provoke more of the wrong sort of debate.
Again, I ask: At what point should the arguments-about-the-arguments be abandoned? To resort to ridicule and satire is slightly frustrating, I feel, because at that point the attempt to convince your correspondent blogger (and their own dedicated readers) will fail.