In the red corner, fighting out of Berkeley, California, the challenger – Derek Draper. His opponent, heavyweight champion of the Blogosphere, Paul ‘Guido’ Staines. Your referee for this afternoon’s contest is Mr Andrew Neil.
When the BBC’s Daily Politics finally brought two of political blogging’s most inflammatory characters face to face, sparks inevitably flew: see the full five minute interview here. It wasn’t especially enlightening: really just a chance to reheat the old, and frankly embarrassing playground spats of the past couple of months. That’s fine for a self-proclaimed ‘anti-politician’ like Staines; but not for someone like Draper, who’s supposedly trying to do something more edifying.
I was bemused by Derek’s continuing efforts to present LabourList as independent of the party, particularly this exchange on funding:
AN: Who finances you?
DD: Well, we publish every year who finances us…
AN: Who does?
DD: Well, we haven’t published it yet.
Or this remarkable about-turn:
DD: The blog is a collection of individuals…
AN: You don’t have a collective view?
DD: No, of course not! LabourList sometimes posts as LabourList…
AN: So it does have a view?
DD: Yeah, it has a view.
Then, as the interview approached a conclusion, Derek tries to turn the funding questions back on Staines: ‘When you set up Order Order, you were just out of being bankrupt, or a bankrupt. So where did the money come from?’ What, to set a rudimentary blog at Blogspot.com, Derek? To buy a domain name? And a Skype account? Actually, that statement probably reveals a lot about the Labour Party’s approach to internet activity. I’ll say no more.
Meanwhile, on the respective blogs, it’s getting very ugly. LabourList chose today to publish a dossier on Paul Staines, detailing ‘a shocking story of bankruptcy, law-breaking and friendliness towards the BNP’ – at least two of which, I’d have said, are totally irrelevant. Meanwhile, Staines has been out to California to do some dirt-digging into Draper’s educational background, with disappointing results both in terms of the lack of a confirmed allegation, and the quality of his video. Interestingly, for the first time I think, Staines has cast aside the Guido persona for both today’s TV slot and his YouTube video… continuing his journey into the mainstream media. One wonders where he’s heading?