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Blogging on Radio 4: The Two Tony’s

Thanks to my Dad (and the fantastic BBC online radio archives) I found out about MPs Tom Watson and Tony Benn chatting about blogging in politics on Radio 4 on Saturday.

My Notes from The Week in Westminster on Radio 4 – blogging bit kicks in at about 21 minutes in to the programme:

Tony Watson defines blogging as online diaries that are regularly updated and important to him, have retrievable archives (so that he can be held to account on statements he makes – [Wow!]).

Tony Benn apparently keeps a daily diary (paper-based) so that he can “see who said what” in the past, but understands that blogs are fundamentally different. He cites a few other media that provide vague blog-like abilities such as MPs having columns in local newspapers, but again understands that blogs are different than this. Benn has his own website and champions the “capacity for people to reach the MP”.

Tony Watson claims to have received 150,000 visits (unique?) since April last year. He talks about a particular case whereby a man from a village near Birmingham managed to attract Watson’s attention about a local supermarket (he doesn’t say what the supermarket is supposed to have done), and produce some responses on Watson’s weblog. This online force prompted the supermarket to “clean up it’s act”. Watson claims that blogging changed his state of awareness through other bloggers posting on his site.

Tony Benn gets the last word in when asked if blogging can fundamentally change the nature of our politics. He claims that he learns 90% of what he knows from his constituents – presumably this is suggesting that blogging can increase this level of knowledge, through greater contact with his constituents.


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