Iain Dale is a funny symbol of the Westminster bubble. Inside it, he's practically royalty. Outside, he's nobody. It's a funny discrepancy, to have so much fame within one important circle and barely any name recognition outside it. Today, Iain Dale announced he would quit blogging. That will mean nothing to most people and really rather a lot to others. His duties at LBC, Total Politics and his book publishers have won over his blog entries. But what did Dale do to deserve his status?
Dale's primary achievement was to introduce civility and thoughtfulness to the blogosphere. In what will later be considered the painful birth pangs of a new media form, Dale offered considered opinions and a reasoned approach to political argument. This was totally at odds with the barely concealed rage of many, if not most, right wing bloggers of the period, whose vitriol often revealed a barely concealed hysteria about the country and themselves. He also demonstrated a healthy commitment to using his considerable influence to promote new bloggers of all political stripes.
He was not perfect. Since the coalition was created his blog posts became considerably less interesting. On too many occasions they could easily have been swapped for a ministerial statement without too many people noticing. It was a far cry from the independent Conservative opinions he was capable of.
But there was much more that was right about Dale than was wrong with him. When we look back on the early years of political blogging, we'll be grateful that he was around to lay out his opinion in a polite and sophisticated manner, despite the fury of the voices around him. It was the manner with which he expressed himself, rather than his actual opinions, which will be missed.