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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 17:17 GMT
Do political blogs have any sway?
By David Gregory
BBC Politics Show, West Midlands

Blogger Guido Fawkes has claimed the internet's first ministerial scalp with the resignation of Peter Hain.

The Northern Ireland Secretary stood down from the Cabinet last month after admitting he had not declared some donations following revelations on the political blogger's site.

Former BBC presenter Adrian Goldberg
Many journalists, like Adrian, have moved into blogging

Politics Show reporter David Gregory has been looking at the state of the political blog, how politicians are using them and what it means for voters.

I have always said as a journalist that anyone can do it, I just never expected so many people to apply themselves and prove me right.

But thanks to them, staying across the "blogosphere" is now an essential part of my daily routine.

And after Peter Hain was dispatched by Guido it seemed like the right time to ask - just where is this explosion in comment and journalism taking us?

Plenty of journalists have moved from the mainstream media into blogging.

'Degree of vandalism'

Adrian Goldberg was a BBC journalist and presenter and now runs the Birmingham and Black Country website and blog, thestirrer.co.uk.

We may have been talking in Adrian's house, but the phone calls and emails he was getting while we were there were more what you would expect in a newsroom not a living room.

"I thought it would just take up an hour, or an hour-and-a-half," he told me.

"But the truth is, it takes up all of my time now. But that's because there is a demand for it out there."

It is not just journalists who are blogging. Politicians too have realised it is a useful tool.

Screengrab of Blogger homepage, Google
Politicians have realised blogging is a useful tool

John Hemming, Lib Dem MP for Yardley in Birmingham, says he uses his blog "mainly for campaigning issues, for putting out information, for arguing issues and often we have big rows in the comments".

Ah yes, the comments section. Everyone I spoke to said the discussions found there can certainly get heated.

Paul Uppal, blogging prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Wolverhampton South West, admitted he suffered "a degree of vandalism" in his comments section.

But, he has a theory that it is "politicos" that end up arguing while, for want of a better description, "normal people" read and take stuff in but do not tend to post.

Anonymity is built in to blogging and I did wonder whether that degrades the level of debate.

But all the bloggers I spoke to said that it could also be a good thing, protecting sources for example.

It may sometimes be bad tempered and aggressive, but blogging is clearly shaping our political conversation and if you do not like what you read on them it is easy to start your own. The demand is there.

As Adrian Goldberg says: "Even when I presented a three hour radio show, once it was over the conversation had to stop but on a blog it can carry on as long as the people want it to."



SEE ALSO
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