Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Iain Dale on what's wrong with leftwing blogging

Widely-read Tory blogger Iain Dale – a sometime sparring partner of mine since the National Dock Labour Scheme strike of 1989, but that’s another story – has some telling observations on the impact of British leftwing bloggers in this week’s Tribune:

‘But as the right is on the ascendant on the internet, the left seems somewhat stagnant.’

Granted, he has got some nice words for yours truly, which makes a change from the days when the bastard used to try to get me sacked:

‘Apart from the usual suspects such as Tribune columnist Paul Anderson's excellent Gauche blog and Dave Osler's newly-created Dave's Part, few blogs on the far left have registered at all outside that particular political milieu.’

On top of that, I do think Dale's on the money with points such as these:

‘There's no left-of-centre equivalent of the leading rightwing blog ConservativeHome or the font of rightwing gossip Guido Fawkes.

Bloggers4Labour has made a valiant effort to bring all the Labour blogs together but it hasn't developed beyond being a glorified links page. It ought to be emulating ConservativeHome, but shows little sign of wanting to do so.’

I try to look at the all of the main Brit left blogs at least a couple of times a week. Standards vary. But none of them qualify as 'must reads' in the same way that, say, Guido manages to be, just by so obviously being in the loop.

Up until a year or two back, Harry’s Place was clearly number one, however much one disagreed with its pro-war editorial line. There was even some semblance of rational debate in the comments box. But it has lost most of its focus of late, to put it politely. Anyway, I have recently been banned, for reasons I still cannot fathom.

I sometimes enjoy Lenin's Tomb, largely because I too was once young, gifted and ultraleft myself. It's the sort of blog I'd produce if I was still in my twenties, and I'm not surprised it's getting a high readership. But the mildest criticism of SWP orthodoxy is usually enough to generate multiple rounds of apolitical abuse from his devoted following.

The main problem with the best of the rest is that they don't post particularly frequently. I do try to post daily, but real life sometimes gets in the way. And while I've enjoy blogging the last few months, I'll admit to being disappointed at the lack of comments. I'm forced to conclude that all rational people agree with me, all of the time, and therefore have nothing more to add to my bons mots.

But the class struggle left in cyberspace still has plenty of work to do in creating a serious online standard bearer for our brand of politics. So I particularly invite comments from other leftie bloggers. What are we doing wrong? How can we wrest the iniative from the Tories and the Eustonites?

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