Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The State of the Welsh Blogosphere

Following my state visit to Wales at the weekend, I thought I'd write a few words on the state of the Welsh blogosphere, which, in general terms, is in a state of rude health.

It came into its own in the run-up to the Assembly elections last year, when blogs such as the Guido-esque Arsembly became required reading for all those interested in politics west of the Severn Bridge. Sadly, in the subsequent months Arsembly went to meet his blog maker, as did the excellent Blamerbell Briefs, whose author Ciaran Jenkins is now a reporter for BBC Wales. Blamerbell threatened to become the single must-read Welsh blog, but it was not to be. Since then, the Welsh blogosphere has threatened to disappear up its own posterior, but I get the sense that there is a new sense of vibrancy among Welsh bloggers. The advent of the Labour attack blog Aneurin Glyndwr has enraged nationalists, who have hit back with the Owain Bevan blog.

But there's a big gap in the Welsh blogosphere to fill - that gap is on the right, where there is a big, gaping void. There are 91 blogs listed in the Welsh section of the Total Politics Blog Directory, but you can count the number of Conservative leaning Welsh blogs on the fingers of two hands. Why is this? Ask me another. It rather blows one popular theory out of the water - that right wing blogs are so popular and prevalent because it is far easier to blog in opposition. If that were the case, Wales and Scotland would be at the forefront of right of centre blogging! It's not that there aren't a lot of opinionated right of centre politicos in Wales. There are. And I know a lot of them. Yes, there's Dylan Jones-Evans, David Jones MP and a few others besides, but with the exception of of the brilliantly incisive Glyn Davies, somehow they have just not made the same impact as Labour and Plaid blogs.

Still, if there's one consolation for the Tories, it's the fact that the LibDems are also rans in Welsh blogging. Apart from the excellent Peter Black, there are very few noteworthy LibDem blogs. DibLemming, written by Steph Ashley, showed lots of early promise, but she hasn't blogged since January, unfortunately. I'm not sure she ever realised what an effect she was having. Someone should persuade her to make a comeback.

There's little doubt in my mind that Plaid Cymru is where the action is on the Welsh blogosphere. There are a few interesting Labour blogs, but Plaid really seem to understand the medium and what it can do for them. They are willing to take a few risks - witness the criticism by Pendroni of the party's line on tuition fees - and the national party seems willing to believe that the threats from blogging are outweighed by the opportunities.

The question is: can political blogs in Wales get a mass audience which reached beyond the rather narrow confines of the Senned and Cardiff Bay and be read by ordinary people with an interest in political discourse? In many ways, that's the question for all of us.

Anyway, these are twelve of the best of the 91 Welsh political blogs. I don't say they are necessarily the best or the most popular, but they are ones that I look at most often.


0725 to Paddington
Written by Western Mail journalist Tomos Livingstone.

Politics Cymru
Written by three young journos, the "three Dewis", aims to cover all aspects of Welsh politics, including video interviews.

Betsan Powys
BBC political correspondent whose contacts book in Welsh politics is unsurpassed.


Valleys Mam
Political but not party political, written by a "woman of a certain age".


Aneurin Glendwyr
The must read Labour attack blog, masterminded by self styled Welsh blogging guru David Taylor.

Paul Flynn MP
Prolific and off message, probably the best written Labour supporting blog in Wales.


Adam Price MP
The blog of the next leader of Plaid in Westminster.

Bethan Jenkins AM
Readble, gossipy, personal and written by the best looking woman in Welsh politics.

North Wales nationalist blogger whose two month retirement from blogging has now ended.


Glyn Davies
Former AM and now Lembit Opik's opponent, his is probably the best right of centre political blog in Wales.

David Jones MP
Personal and the political combine well in this blog by the up and coming Tory MP for Clwyd West.


Peter Black AM
One of the most long established Welsh blogs, and one of the most readable. Often off message.

For a complete list of Welsh political blogs click HERE.


David_Taylor said...

I would never describe myself as a blogging guru!

And Aneurin Glyndwr is a group-blog team effort! It's not just me.

Simon Dyda said...

Thanks for the mention :)

Fidothedog said...

Paul Flynn will be glad you gave him a mention, he stated in a leaflet recently that he gets an impressive 2000 hits a week. :-)

Your link may double that for him.

Sweet and Tender Hooligan said...

I think the dearth of Labour bloggers, with the dominance of Plaid blogs, is actually the bigger story.

Before Miss Wagstaff jumped the shark, there was an equal amount of tory blogs as there was Labour.

There is only one non-elected Welsh Labour blog besides AG.

There is quite a big project underway to remedy that, which I have been involved in.

Simon's Pleidiol website was impressive.

cambriapolitico said...

...aneuringlyndwr enraged the nationalists?
You must be kidding. This website was an excellent fillip to Plaid as it highlighted the distance between the Plaid online activity and Liebour's terrible efforts.

Moreover, it provided us at http://cambriapolitico.com with some excellent amusement - see our 'Sound of Stupidity' posts.

Good to see Ordovicius back though.

Admin said...

Iain, I accept that the Welsh Liberal Democrats can do better in terms of their on-line presence though I appreciate your acknowledgement that we are way ahead of Labour and the Tories in Wales in this regard.

However, there are a number of other noteworthy Welsh Lib Dem blogs as well as the effort made by the party itself to improve its showing.

The Welsh Lib Dems now have their own blog aggregator at http://www.welshlibdemblogs.co.uk> as well as a group blog at http://freedom-central.blogspot.com written by Party activists. In addition there are excellent blogs by Cardiff Liberal Democrat students at http://cardiffstudentlibdems.blogspot.com, David Peter at http//daifullpelt.blogspot.com, Frank Little at http://ffrancsais.blogspot.com, Francesca Montemaggi at http://paswonky.blogspot.com, Gareth Aubrey at http://auberius.blogspot.com, Mark Cole at http://johnmarkcole.blogspot.com and Pete Roberts http://petedroberts.blogspot.com amongst others.

I think that we are starting to get there in Wales.

James D said...

It really reflects the extent to which there is meaningfully a Welsh Party. Plaid does very well at this; Labour appallingly, sabotaged by its own MPs and MEPs; the Welsh Conservatives somewhere in between; and the Lib Dems have a nice taxi or two.

The imbalance this creates isn't a good thing. It's all very well some Pleidwyr having a ding-dong about university fees, but it's largely a debate that goes nowhere as a result. No-one's really taken up the two big issues here:
1) the Welsh Government's lack of control of supply undermines its policies
2) the university situation in Wales is in fact unsustainable -- the alternative to fees is not the status quo, but seeing Lampeter go bust (and Trinity too, if they play the Erie Lackawanna game) and compromising Cardiff University's global competitiveness.

And, yes, the Tories could have a field day on responsible government and university funding if they wanted...

Jabba the Cat said...

Blimey, ninety odd bloggers in Wales, I thought there weren't more than ninety Welsh in total.

Melvin Cragsbury (a pseudonym) said...

The reason there are so few Scottish and Welsh blogs is that the Scottish and Welsh are all communists. Fact - 60% of Scots are employed by the state.


Obnoxio The Clown said...

The must read Labour attack blog

Just don't listen to it!

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

Thanks for the brief mention, Ian.

Having a full-time job and various other interests means that I can't blog every day.

Certainly, not being involved in full-time politics anymore means that others in the party should be picking up the baton as I basically don't have the time to react to everything that comes out.

I also tend to use the blog as a repository for the two weekly articles I write for the Daily Post and Western Mail which, in themselves, take much of the spare time I have.

Perhaps I should become an Assembly researcher for Plaid or Labour then I would have all the time I need to write blog entries :)

The Grim Reaper said...

I've lived in Wales all my life, and I've often thought that this country seemed more "socialist" (for want of a better word) than England. You can see this in our politics - right-wing parties generally have never done especially well in Wales.

King Athelstan said...

Aneurin Glyndwr? after the "Obama moment" video I'm surprised anyone would admit to being involved with it.

Gavin said...

"Perhaps I should become an Assembly researcher for Plaid or Labour then I would have all the time I need to write blog entries :)"

Because of course Miss Wagstaff wasn't writen by a Tory staffer Dylan. lol

Morus said...

Good thread Iain.

For those blessed with true fluency in Welsh (not myself) I am reliably informed that Blog Menai is a must-read.


Thought I'd pass that on.

Valleys Mam said...

Hi Iain
being like Dylan JE employed and with so many other things to do I have to find time to blog.My taste varies from Wales to the UK to some great blogs that are non-political.I like people I am interested in political interaction and the blogs do that.
The blogs pick up stuff that jurnos often miss and that I find fascinating.I like a little personal insight into people too.
Blammer is still my favourite ,it was he who encouraged me to blog.
Tory bloggers are scarce, buy Tories are scarce in Wales.
female Tories who blog I don't think there are any.
Thanks for flagging me up :>)

Ian said...

A well written article Iain. I did a blog when I was an Assembly candidate and often toy with the idea of starting one again. However, with a job, two pre-school boys and more than enough Plaid 'voluntary work', it's a case of blogging or sleep.
Wales has such a lack of specific Welsh media that the blog sites are likely to stay well beyond their predicted demise here.
I would actually like to see more balance, but do despair at the trolls who contaminate the Betsan Powys site.
Another Welsh language blog which is top notch and worth a plug is Vaughan Roderick of the BBC.