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Terry and Teddy Edward: the library debate continues

Although I’m relatively new to the blogosphere, I have received an on-line ‘fisking’  a few times. You know what a fisk is, of course. The blogger takes an article or blog with which he disagrees and rebuts (he thinks/hopes) point by point, usually in a slightly irritating clever-dick way.

Yesterday, within minutes of posting a few mild thoughts about the shadow culture minister Ed Vaizey and his views on the library service, I was given a good fisking – by the shadow minister himself.

Since we are all pals in this strange virtual world, I’m sure he won’t mind if I try that tricky on-line manoevre, the reverse fisk.

Ed kicks off…

Thanks Terence.  It’s a slightly silly post, if you don’t mind me saying so.  I’ve fisked it below, the caps are to distinguish my comments from Terry’s blogpost, they do not represent shouting…

Hang on, Ed – or should that be Teddy? We haven’t met and, as it happens, I haven’t been called Terry since I was at school. Between you and me, I don’t entirely welcome this fake intimacy. Back to my original blog… 

It was an interesting performance, not so much for the content – which was distinctly light – but for the style of address. Imagine Boris Johnson, with the well-practised charming duffer effect taken down a notch or two, and you are not far from Ed Vaizey.

IT WAS AN AFTER DINNER SPEECH AT 930PM.  IF YOU WANT SERIOUS AND HEAVY, I’LL DO IT AT 11AM, WHEN MY AUDIENCE HAS NOT WINED AND DINED!

Hi, Ned, me again. It may have been an after-dinner speech but it can’t have been that light-hearted and off-the-cuff since your office quickly put out a self-puffing press release about its main points.

Breezy, amiable, bright and jokey, he conveys the image of a good-hearted amateur. Like other  new Tories, he has perfected the art of appearing slightly surprised and amused that anyone is taking him seriously.

New Labour has a voice: concerned, humourless, starchy and faintly sinister. The Tory default setting is that of a cheerful bungler, doing his best under difficult circumstances. I suspect that, if these people are in control for the next five years, the charm of this act will wear off quickly.

On the evidence of the Society of Bookmen speech, it is also not entirely to be trusted. Vaizey uttered all the right warm words expressing passionate commitment to the library service. Subsequently, a supporter of the Campaign for the Book  has pointed out that when, last year, a local Tory council proposed to shut down the popular Old Town Library in Swindon, he visited  the library incognito, and then supported the council’s position.

INTERESTING.  MY VISIT WAS NOT INCOGNITO, I WENT WITH LOCAL COUNCILLROS, AND MET THE STAFF AND USERS.  WE CAN ARGUE THE MERITS AND DEMERITS OF CLOSING OLD TOWN LIBRARY BUT I AM THE ONLY LIBRARY SPOKESMAN TO VISIT, AS FAR AS I AM AWARE, (HAVE YOU TERRY?)

No, but then I’m not the shadow culture minister.

AND LOOK AT THE SITUATION, VISIITNG NOT JUST OLD TOWN BUT THE NEW £10M CENTRAL LIBRARY AND THREE OTHER LIBRARIES IN SWINDON.

Hey Jedward, you came with a councillor but failed to tell the local MP or the support group for the library. You did not, apparently, speak to staff at the desk.

 ON A WIDER POINT, IS IT REALLY YOUR VIEW THAT IF A MINISTER/SHADOW MINISTER ALLOWS A LIBRARY TO CLOSE ANYWHERE, AT ALL, THEN THAT IS A FAILURE OF POLICY?  THAT CANNOT BE A SERIOUS APPROACH SURELY?

No, but nor is it serious to express unequivocal support for a system when, in one of the first important specific cases, you have come down in favour of closure (a fact  excluded from your speech)

Behind the vagueness and the charm, the same old political business is going on.

 It certainly is.