Here is the full text of an article written by Grant Thoms for his Tartan Hero blog on 24 November 2007:
Wendy’s in a ‘spin’ again
It should have been third time lucky for Wendy Alexander and a head of communications for the Labour Group. First, Brian Lironi left within days of Wendy’s coronation. Then Babyface Marr spectacularly resigned last week after a bout of political Tourette’s Syndrome. Now, the third man, Gavin Yates is in a spin after his blog postings were reported by the Sunday Post and Sunday Herald.
In his blog (which has since been closed down, a fine example of bolting the stable door), he praised Alex Salmond as ‘a politician at the top of his game’ and lauded the SNP Government’s achievements in it’s first 100 days. Now we shall see if this ‘journalist’ will change his tune now Labour is paying for his pipes.
It seems as though “Tartan Hero” has become the Tartan Feartie, scared of his own views. For the man the SNP were pinning their hopes on for the Glasgow North East by-election has now withdrawn from the contest, apparently afraid that his blog “would return to haunt him”.
We have seen this sort of thing before of course. As Tartan Hero’s post says, one of Wendy Alexander’s spin doctors, Gavin Yates, closed down his blog and deleted it. As I pointed out at the time, if you want to hide your blog then deleting it is pretty futile. You leave traces of yourself all over the place, and deleting your blog only brings attention to the fact that you might have something to hide.
In the case of Gavin Yates, I was still able to access all of his archives which were sitting in my Google Reader account. Anyone can access old RSS feeds in Google Reader as long as they were subscribed to the website while it was still being published.
This week The Herald says that “traces” of the Tartan Hero blog have been retrieved by Mr Thoms’s political opponents. In my Google Reader account I have found a bit more than “traces”. I have access to the full content of 684 of his articles. I think this is a very substantial proportion of his archives.
In the words of Lallands Peat Worrier, he has been “Indygalled“! We can add his name to the list which includes Gavin Yates (whom, ironically, he gloated about), “Indygal” Anne McLaughlin and Kezia Dugdale.
Anne McLaughlin’s blog made the news when she became an MSP. Journalists trawled her archives looking for anything vaguely juicy, and they found a few interesting comments about (and a few photographs of) other politicians, but not much more. After some of the offending content was deleted, and a brief hiatus, she continued blogging and the whole thing blew over.
Kezia Dugdale also took some time off her blog after deciding it was “far too risky a past-time”. I think she got in hot water a couple of times about some of the things she published. Now with a promise that she will “be a bit smarter” with her blogging activities, it remains one of the very best Scottish Labour blogs going.
Tartan Hero was not among my personal favourites (although I guess I should be grateful to him for once rather inexplicably deciding that this was the second best Scottish political blog!). But it was clearly a very popular blog and appeared to attract quite a wide audience. His opinions didn’t do him any harm then.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think there is anything in Tartan Hero’s archives which is worth getting too excited about, which makes the deletion all the more strange in my view. The Herald hints at worries about this views on gay rights and Catholic schools. Jeff (apparently with the scoop!) also pinpointed Catholic schools as a potential issue.
The thing is, Tartan Hero was always had quite a provocative style. The views were not particularly extreme, but they were forthright and strongly expressed.
It seems strange to me that a politician would get cold feet over political views they so vehemently expressed just a year or two ago. It can’t be a surprise that his writing would find itself in the spotlight. Indeed, that was surely the intention.
It is true that in the rough-and-tumble world of party politics, one’s character and history faces a different type of scrutiny, and the game is not often played very fairly. But Grant Thoms is surely an intelligent person who has presumably had his sights set on becoming a Parliamentarian for a while now. None of this can be a surprise to him and he will surely have seen it coming.
So the deletion of his blog does make me scratch my head a bit. Moreover, it looks particularly silly given what he wrote when Gavin Yates deleted his blog.
As I said the last time I tackled this issue, no doubt if someone tried hard enough they’d find plenty of material on my blog to use against me. After all, as a mere
22 -year-old scamp who has been blogging since 2002, I have left a fairly thorough record of my opinions going back to the age of 16.
It’s not that my opinions as a 16-year-old were particularly invalid or wrong, but a lot of them will have changed. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that I have written something in the past that could be taken out of context and used against me.
I’d like to trust people to be responsible about it, but I wonder if it’s possible. Certainly, it is a sad reflection of the state of politics that astute bloggers feel the need to cover up their writing for fear of it being used against them and thwarting their political careers.
At least Anne McLaughlin and Kezia Dugdale have not been put off for good and have been able to continue blogging in the long run. I wonder if one day soon a modified version of Tartan Hero will return to the blogosphere.