I used to think that bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, from right across the political spectrum; almost like an (albeit slightly more tech-savvy) microcosm of society as a whole. Obviously there are a lot of poor people who can’t have access to the internet, but in general I thought the above at least had the potential to be true. But a couple of issues have me wondering now.
I vaguely recall this being a talking point in the recent past: Are there any bloggers out there who actually support ID cards? The answer would appear to be no. (I am actually an ID cards agnostic, although that means precisely that: agnostic.)
And the reaction in the blogosphere to the proposed 90 days legislation was overwhelmingly negative. I hear that Harry’s Place hinted at being in favour of it, although I wouldn’t know because I don’t read crazy blogs. Has anybody spotted any bloggers supporting the proposal? Leave a link in the comments if you have, because I find it astonishing that there can be so many bloggers out there who were so heavily against the proposal when opinion polls led us to believe that a majority of the public at large supported 90 days.
This struck me on Wednesday. Obviously I had heard about the opinion polls and all the rest of it. That a majority of the population supports banging people up for 90 days for no good reason is not much of a surprise given that a majority also support the death penalty and whatever else. But I had spent the whole day blogging about it and reading blogs, and it felt like the world and its dog was fully against 90 days.
Obviously bloggers have a very wide range of opinions. But thinking about it (if you excuse me for using crap right / left terminology) most of the right-wing blogs come in the shape of libertarianism who are (usually) as angry when civil liberties are eroded as they are when taxes are increased. Those to the left of Labour are against it because for all their faults they at least tend to defend civil liberties to the hilt. Hell, even most Labour bloggers found this one difficult to bear, choosing either to sheepishly admit that their party was wrong on this one, or just stay quiet about it. Meanwhile, the liberals are… liberal.
Then I went off the computer. And I switched on the radio. The difference between the public mood on the radio and television and the public mood on the blogosphere is striking. It appears as though Joe Public is very different to Joe Blogs.
Me personally, I’d lock ’em up and throw away the key.
That’s an actual quote that a caller made on BBC Radio Five Live on Wednesday evening. When I woke up in the morning David Davies and David Cameron were on receiving calls and texts along the lines of, “I’ve voted Conservative all my life, but never again; not after what happened yesterday.” Sometimes there was the same kind of language that has been used by The Sun this week — traitors, betrayal, all of that. All-in-all I think I only heard about two texts speaking out against 90 days on the radio.
Back on the blogs, everybody’s kicking the shit out of The Sun!
So what explains this? Is it that most bloggers are middle-class metropolitan types who “don’t live in the real world™”? I doubt it, because this is actually one issue where you can’t throw this easy accusation around: metropolitan types are actually far more likely to be affected by a terrorist attack than, say, a remote Northern fishing village is.
Or could it be that bloggers are actually better-informed about the issue? That would be a pretty pious stance to take.
Am I just reading the wrong blogs? What is it that makes Joe Blogs so different to Joe Public?