Conference Blogging

Right, I’m back after my summer recess and I’m going to kick things off with a bit of a question…

Having watched Bloggerheads and others doing a very nice job of outing David Taylor, a part time researcher to Leighton Andrews AM, as the ‘ringer’ behind the Blairite ‘Keeping the Faith‘ brown-nose fest – you can catch up on the action here, here, here and here – I couldn’t help but notice the announcement on Bloggers4Labour that Jonathan Roberts of Thirsk and Malton blog has been chosen as the ‘up and coming’ Labour Blogger who’ll be given ‘given access to all the key speeches and events at Conference and will be blogging from the floor about their experiences.’

Blogger4Labour, who covered this competition when it was launched also noted that:

The "best, the most innovative and the freshest" entry will be chosen.

Before going to express the view that they’d

strongly discourage all references to "Official Labour Blogger", not least because it (a) isn’t what’s on offer, (b) implies a hierarchy of bloggers, which doesn’t (or rather, shouldn’t) exist, and (c) undermines the credibility and independence of the participant.

Bearing all that in mind, its a bit disappointing to have to ask publicly whether Jonathan Roberts, our erstwhile ‘up and coming’ Labour ‘blogger’ is the same Jonathan Roberts who is currently listed as a National Officer for the Labour Movement for Europe and a member of LME’s national executive or even the same Jonathan Roberts who was a parlaimentary assistant to Bruce George MP in 1990-91, in addition to being deputy editor of Jane’s Nato Handbook during the same period, and co-author of ‘The British Labour Party and Defense‘, with Bruce George.

Of course Jonathan Roberts is not that unusual a name as offer any certainty that the blogger, the LME exec member and the parliamentary assistant are all the very same individual, however as circumstantial evidence I would enter this missive to the Yorkshire Post, which would seem to support the notion that at the very least our Jonathan Roberts is, indeed, both the blogger and LME national officer…

From: Jonathan Roberts, Saxty Way, Thirsk.
JIM Bray (Yorkshire Post, August 16) makes a valid assessment of war, and the need for countries to "settle their differences in a civilised manner".
I am sure he is aware that this is exactly what happens within the European Union. Elected representatives and governments of different European countries meeting to resolve their differences and decide upon mutually beneficial measures.
David Quarrie (also August 16), however, rants that no good has come from the EU, nor New Labour.
Well, I suspect that the millions of people currently in work and training, who wouldn’t have been under the Tories, or the millions of employees who have increased workers’ rights, or the millions of people better off under minimum wage and tax credit systems, might disagree.
I am not arguing that everything is perfect in our country; there’s a lot to be done and a lot to be improved – but it is unfair and highly inaccurate to argue that nothing has been improved at all.

Now what was that about avoiding the term ‘official Labour blogger’ again?

UPDATE – Thanks to B4L for pointing out a post, today, from Jonathan that would put his age at around 24 and rule out his being Bruce George’s former assistant.

Meanwhile, getting back to David Taylor, who if you’ve followed all the links above you’ll find has been busily registering any ‘johnson4leader’ domain he can get his hands on has also taken the time to list ‘Tony’s Blair’s Achievements‘ on his Keeping the Faith website…

Of course, the more observant amongst you might notice that a few of these achievements appear to rely rather heavilty on the support and involvement of HM Treasury, and therefore, Gordon Brown – so at best you’re looking at achievements that could rightly be credited to both of them… although, again, if like you me you’re rather more collectively inclined and not into stroking egos and political idolatory you might prefer to consider these achievements to belong collectively to the Labour Party.

Did I just say a few of these achievements? What I meant was a lot… well a bit a more than a lot, try the majority of them as in 33 out of the 50 listed – these ones, in fact…

1. Lowest inflation since the 60s
2. Low interest rates
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage
4. Record police numbers in England and Wales
8. Funding for every pupil in England to double (since 1997) by 2007-08
9. Lowest unemployment for 29 years
10. Written off up to 100 per cent of debt owed by poorest countries
11. 78,700 more nurses
12. 27,400 more doctors
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice at any time
18. New Deal – helped over a million people into work
19. Local government funding has increased by a third in real terms
21. Free entry to all national museums and galleries
22. Overseas aid budget more than doubled
24. Child benefit up 25 per cent since 1997
25. Created Sure Start to help children from low income households
27. £200 winter fuel payment to pensioners & extra £100 for over-80s
28. The biggest rolling stock replacement programme ever seen on our railways
30. Over 30,000 more teachers in England schools
32. All workers now have a right to 4 weeks’ paid holiday
33. Record rises in the state pension
34. 700,000 children lifted out of relative poverty
35. Introduced child tax credit giving more money to parents
37. Cut long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent
38. Free nursery places for three and four-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales
39. Free fruit for all four to six-year-olds at school
40. Free school milk for five, six and seven-year-olds in Wales
41. Record police numbers in Scotland
44. Free TV licences for over-75s
46. Halved maximum waiting times for NHS operations
47. Free local bus travel for over-60s
48. Record number of students in higher education
50. Five, six and seven-year-olds in class sizes of 30 or less

Every one of the above would not have been possible without the Treasury to put up the money to make them happen, and in many cases the support of the PLP in carrying through legislation, so they’re hardly Blair’s achievements but achievements brought about by the Labour Party and the Labour movement as a whole…

  …or at least that’s how I see things, and I’m pretty sure that my party membership cards still says ‘Labour Party’ and not ‘Cult of Blair’ – or at least it did last time I looked at it.

10 thoughts on “Conference Blogging

  1. Can’t say I’ve researched thoroughly, but I’m informed the guy’s 24 (somewhat reinforced by this), which rules out at least two of the roles you referred to. I expect loyalism played a part in the blogger-selection decision, but it doesn’t prove that the guy will not/cannot express his own opinions. What we don’t know yet is whether or not a new Labour-hosted blog will be set up especially for him to use during the event. It seems rather likely, given that his own has something of a Thirsk & Malton focus and doesn’t allow comments, but that would, I suspect, entirely unnecessarily jeopardise his independence. All the same, I don’t believe Labour’s view is that its blogosphere should be on-message (far from it), and perhaps there are people who really want this to work?

  2. Yes, that would rule out the possibility of him being parliamentary assistant to Bruce George and may even make him a bit young to be a national officer for LME.

    The name is common enough that it could easily be a coincidence but having noted it, I thought it better the question is asked by another Labour blogger well in advance of the conference rather than see the questions come from outside and that it be asked openly so if a public rebuttal can be posted if necessary.

    We’re dropping way too many bollocks at the moment in terms of using new media, David Taylor’s being the latest, to get caught out again in yet another party hose job.

  3. Hey turns out I do know this guy – Jono!!!

    Never knew he blogged though! Very suspicious!

    He isn’t any of those above things – but is a nice guy.

    Nice and impressionable! 😉

  4. That’s useful to know as it culls one possible line of attack.

    It would be useful if someone could impress on him that his blog may get quite a bit of scrutiny, some of which will inevitably be on the hostile side and seeking any possible chance to write the whole thing off as a spin doctor contrived hose job.

  5. Pingback: Tim Ireland

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