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Thursday, April 15, 2010 

Political conformity and the fall of a swear-blogger.

Who would ever seriously want to be a politician? Not only are you viewed as lower than a tabloid journalist, as all the same and only in it for yourself, but you are also now submitting yourself to the kind of media-led vetting that picks occasionally on the most innocuous, at least in personal discussion terms, previous utterances that you were silly enough to leave a record of. Stuart MacLennan's tweets were inadvisable and occasionally offensive, and he should have realised that eventually some bored hack was likely to look at his history, but it was hardly a sackable offence. Even less justifiable was the prying into Ellie Gellard's previous comments to find that she, shockingly, had thought that Gordon Brown maybe should go and that Margaret Thatcher slipping on a skateboard might be humourous, accompanied by reporting which was typically sexist, along with the active drooling from the usual priapic morons. Her far bigger crime was that she calls herself a socialist, even a stilettoed one, and yet presented a manifesto that is about as socialist as David Cameron's eyebrows.

And so who next enters the media's disapproval of grassroots potential politicos saying anything even vaguely controversial? Why, it's that lovable rogue, Chris Mounsey, better known as the man behind Devil's Kitchen, and now the leader of the Libertarian Party UK. Compared to MacLennan and Gellard, Mounsey is admittedly on a whole different level of endlessly inventive invective, extending his insulting of politicians and hangers-on to almost poetic levels of lyrical violence. My objection to swear-blogging, of which I think DK was the undisputed master and on a whole different level to some of the more recent entrants to the genre, was the peril you ended up a one-trick-pony, or more seriously, spreading yourself too thinly, targeting individuals that either weren't worthy of such abuse, or who actively didn't deserve it. You also run the risk of people falling into the belief that your online persona, this furious, incisive, whirling dervish of fury is your actual personality, when hopefully it isn't. I have very occasionally indulged in some poor swear-blogging myself, such as here, but only when I felt that it was fully justified. It's not just that such diatribes aren't really me, however much I'll swear at politicians on the television, it's more that repeatedly calling someone a cunt or even actively wishing for their death isn't very pleasant.

Some then will take active pleasure from Mounsey, or DK, coming so unstuck after being invited onto the Daily Politics as the leader of LPUK. He claims, quite understandably, that he was only going to be asked about his party's policies, but he surely must have known there was a possibility he was going to be asked about the more out-there personal attacks on his blog. As it was, after initially putting across LPUK's economic policies, Andrew Neil moved onto the smallness of the LPUK, which was a bit of a tautology considering that the section is devoted to the more minor parties in the election, although considering how little support LPUK has outside a vibrant online libertarian blogging community that has always punched far above its weight it was just about justified, and then onto a specific post by DK dedicated to the trade unionist Chris Keates, which he was unable to read almost any of but which this blog has no qualms about repeating:

Go fuck yourself, Chris Keates: I hope that the massive black dildo — with which you while away the hours between raping babies and destroying the dreams of the young — ruptures you and you bleed to death out of your disgusting, filthy, piebald cunt.

As DK's swear-blogging went, that was probably one of the less eloquent posts. DK could however have still attempted to justify it, on the grounds that he was just indulging in his persona and that he didn't really mean any of the above, although he was entirely serious about his main political point. Instead, he apologised and backed down, and that really was it. DK has since, after also receiving a phone call from his boss, removed the entirety of his past output, including that of guest posters, and set himself up anew. And with it, as Chris says, the public sphere and definitely the UK political blogging scene will be duller.

I think, frankly, that DK has over-reacted. There was certainly no need to remove all his past material; he didn't even need to clarify it. If anything, his reaction on the DP has just shown that he has very little in common with the actual character that he has played, should anyone of thought so, and perhaps that might well be slightly liberating. Blogging has always been for me about catharsis, expressing at times what is boiling anger about the injustices which our politicians have foisted upon us, and even if we're often coming at it from completely different political angles and writing stances, my guess is that's been the same with DK. As he writes, he might well have been moving away from the swearing in any case, but feeling forced into it by an uncertain performance when ambushed was perhaps also an admission that it wasn't who he really was, or at least isn't now.

While Chris has suggested that this is the media repressing any alternative to the main three parties, I think that could have been done far more effectively by just pretending the likes of LPUK don't exist. The BBC had no need whatsoever to invite DK on, but who knows, perhaps there was someone motivated behind the scenes by a previous screed against them. Clearly though, if you want to get any sort of attention without qualification you have to come to some sort of compromise; while wishing Thatcher would fall over and die is one thing, actively expressing depraved fantasies, however non-seriously, is simply not going to come across well. Also, if you give it out as DK has for so long, you also have to prepared to take it. As limited as our political debate often is, and as joyful as it would be to have voices from across the spectrum rather than just from the dead centre, the real thing that prevents that is not the media, although they have a role, but rather the electoral system itself. Make every vote count, and you remove the insanity of chasing the marginals which leaves us with this body politic that involves complete allegiance to the leader and leaves alternative thinking strangled as a minority pursuit. Mounsey's victims might well be enjoying schadenfreude at his defenestration, but his silencing and the loss of his archives is still a great shame.

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Sadly it's once again a case of the media conflating private and public life.

Justifiable if it exposes a hypocrite, but instead it's the vaguely snobbish 'is this person fit to do this job?' that they never quite come out and ask.

Perhaps because if they had asked straight out 'Would you want a person who vents in such a foul manner representing you?" they are scared that the hoi-polloi might answer 'Yes, it'd make a nice change'. Recall the disparity between the media's reaction to Prezza's Punch and the public's.

Shame the site's changing, but in these times and in his position anything DK posts will be held up and used against both him and his party and he's obviously decided that the party is more important.

Sorry but I disagree, DK's blog was vile and I've grown tired of people who use the dis-conneted nature of the Internet as an excuse to act like a dick but when in a real and human face to face situation, can't hack it and bottle it, as he did.

So it was with great pleasure that he shown up and great pleasure that he has taken down his archives and back-tracked because words are important, they do hurt, they do cause offence, they do cause people pain and to pretend that a person's own 'letting off of steam' doesn't have personal implications for others is fraudulent.

And as for it being duller...good grief, what a tiny little insidious world this political blogging tosh is; it's like saying without the violent thugs of the BNP and their racist nonsense, UK politics would be duller.

Bloggers have to realise that what they write has an effect and they have a responsibility and if, woe betide, you try and make a transition away from hiding anonymously behind your laptop to the real world, you better be prepared for your Internet behaviour to come bite you hard on the arse.

I'm with Mr Hoffmann-Gill on this one. Thanks for posting the clip, by the way: Paisley Grammar School 1-Eton College 0.

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