Sunday, June 04, 2006

Writing for Tribune Magazine

Now who's the person least likely to write for Tribune magazine that you know? Correct. Me. This week I've got to write an article about why the right wing blogosphere is far more active than that of the left. I'm fairly ecunemical in my blogging tastes, but it is very difficult to find many Labour blogs, especially Blairite ones. Even Bloggers4Labour only has 17 members, compared to 80 on LibDem Blogs and 120 or so Tory blogs. Do let me know why you think this might be and I'll quote you in the article.


Croydonian said...

If I might venture so bold, I think it is probably because it is an awful lot easier to blog against than to blog for.

Jock Coats said...

You're looking for "left" Blairite blogs? Shirley some oxymoron?

Besides, "Old Labour" can't afford or haven't learned computers and "New Labour" does not permit dissent or discussion so there would be no point would there?


Anonymous said...

Shame on you Mr Dale - first you get your interweb chums to write a book for you. Then you start subcontracting out responsibility for the content of your magazine articles. What next - turning your blog into a small scale UK version of the dailykos - with you sitting atop setting standards/frameworks, whilst a host of rabid diarist fill the gaps?

I think the problem with your question is the question. There are undoubtedly a lot of leftie blogs - from Harry's Place leftwards (taking in all manner of trots, greenies and other fist shakers of varying degrees of sanity and readability). And there are a fair few rightwing blogs (though I would guess far more influential by virtue of who reads them than because of their mass market penetration - cf again the DailyKos, which is much more than a soapbox aimed at a few political junkies and bored lobby journos). But no Blairblogs - why? My guess (and given that this is a genre still very immature, it is just a guess) is that political blogging is the natural (if slightly faster and shallower - but such is life nowadays) successor to the ancient art of topical pampleteering - a medium you will understand has always been made more readable, entertaining and urgent by its by opposing and (sometimes) poking fun, rather than doing what governments and establishments do, which is often the much harder (and more boring) task of justifying and defending. At the moment New Labour is the establsihment, so generally it doesn't blog. Put it in opposition, with a Tory government to oppose, and the blogs will start up.

So what of the States, where there are all manner of political shades of blog? I'd guess here that it is in part a function of the politicla settlement there. On the left a blog community fired by opposition and the need to organise. On the right, a neocon establishment, which (rather like, at times, the Thatcher project) defines itself by opposition to all manner of enemies, real and imaginary, so even when in power continues to fizz with anger and indignation. Add to that a distributed and devolved constitution - not just a single parliamentary chamber to argue about , but all manner of elections in every state all the time - so a much looser sense of who is the establishment at any one time.

I could ramble on. But its time for bed. G'night all.

Anonymous said...

Two reasons I can think of:

1. The LibDems and labour are going through a bad patch. Supporters tend to stay undercover in these circumstances.

2. The Tory Party is going through some change but it is more of the same with labour and the LibDems. Change sparks debate.

Sorry for such boring reasons....but that is my take on it.

Pickles said...

bloggers for Labour hasn't got only 17 members. It's got loads....go to bloggers4labour and have a look down the right hand side - they're all Labour bloggers.

It's true that the Labour blogosphere isn't so full of internecine squabbling - that's because there's considerable unity of purpose in the Labour Party...


Anonymous said...

God! Some of those that Pickles claim to be Labour blogs are pretty desperate....e.g. one needs a password for anything to happen (in true Eastern Bloc style) and another (also password protected) seems to be all about gardening in Hastings! I only looked at three!

Anonymous said...

Agree, bloggers tend to be anti-establishment (government).
The Tory resurgence is infectious; people want to participate.
The Government is tired and stale; its regular supporters reflect that and can't be bothered to participate.
Right-wingers are interested in ideas; left-wingers, hamstrung by dogma and political correctness, have little to argue about.
Possibly, most important: right wing blogs are funnier. Left wing comics simply aren't funny, because so many targets are off limits.

ian said...

Maybe it's difficult to find a blairite blog because no-one, No-one, likes him?

Anonymous said...

"...because no-one, No-one, likes him?"

Surely his Mummy and Cherie like him? But, then again...

Serf said...

I think there are more, active Conservative blogs simply because we actually believe that we might make a difference. Ok we are currently read by three people and a dog each day, but with the party steaming along in the polls, we have the chance to be a very small cog in a very large and soon to be successful machine.

Paul Linford said...

As far as the lack of Blairite blogs is concerned, I'm with the "blogging is essentially oppositional" camp here.

There are of course plenty of left-of-centre bloggers who are anti-Blair - eg Tim Ireland, Justin McKeating and myself. We just don't happen to be as successful as you and Guido - yet!

Anonymous said...

Croydonian may be partially right, but in the US the government is of the right and still the blogoshere is right slanted.

Perhaps, and I have removed my tinfoil hat, it is because the left are generally happier with the MSM coverage of their point of view than the right. If this is the case those of the right have more incentive to seek out other means of expressing themselves.

You also have to remember that the left are actually very conservative when it comes to jobs and traditions. One of the greatest icons of socialism is the image of Lenin slaving away at a printing press hidden in a cellar churning out pamphlets and illegal issues of Pravda and Iskra. The leftie mindset is weddded to the idea that things are changed by underground newspapers. We righties came late into the game of revolutionary commentary. Thus with no cultural baggage we are more likely to grasp the new medium.

Then again, Jock could also have a point when he says that the right are generally more affluent and probably have the sorts of jobs that permit regular interweb access.


Croydonian said...

RM, as usual makes a telling point. I suspect that there are fewer Lefties blogging as they like doing things collectively and are not so big on espousing anything unless they have ideological soulmates acting as an amen corner. Meanwhile, we the broadly Right are perhaps happier to stick our necks out and to make alliances of convenience with those we agree in part with rather than argue with them.

Look, if you will, at the far left - they are never happier than when splitting and denouncing erstwhile comrades foer heresy. And creating newspapers to voice that....

Man in a Shed said...

Blogging in opposition may be more attractive, but I don't think it explains the relative success of the right's blogs over those of the left.

The New Labour project has been about controlling peoples perceptions from the centre with press releases, initiatives, new legislation, reviews and emotions. They don't seek to convince, but rather to subvert the electorate. (Its just getting harder and harder to hide the results.)

Blogging is not easily controlled and requires thought. Hence it leans to towards freedom and conscious intelligence. Today that means blogging will flourish on the right.

Tom Welch's has a good point also.

Davide Simonetti said...

I think part of the reason might be that many of the blogs that are against Blair and New Labour sometimes get mistaken for being right-wing when they may (in some cases) be more alligned (not sure if that is the right word) to 'old' Labour or just non partisan while having a broadly left-wing outlook.

Kerron said...

Er, only 17 Labour blogs on Bloggers for Labour???

I think there were around 80 odd last time I checked.

Where did you get the number 17 from?

Obviously I couldn't hazard a guess at how many are "Blairite" blogs. But this isn't one of them. :-)

BTW Iain, feel free to add me to your Labour blog bit in the sidebar!

Unknown said...

There are currently 204 blogs at B4L, which rather blows the point of this article out the water, but it would be nice if it could be corrected anyway.

This "right wing blogosphere is far more active than that of the left" argument really doesn't ring true for me, but I guess everyone has their own opinion.

Anonymous said...


I hadn't actually made the connect that the leftie's preferreed medium of publicity is more a collective activity. Never having used one I forgot that running a printing press, even a covert one, was a team sport. Your point makes sense though.

I'm sure the lefties will try and use this to say that bloggers, especially the right wing ones (broad or otherwise) are sad loners who spend their lives sat in front of the computer. I prefer Tom's description that we're rugged individualists.

Hope we've given Iain some material to work with though. I wonder if he'll give us a mention? Or even a link to the published article? I don't fancy having to trawl through a couple of weeks of Tribune to find it.


Anonymous said...

Just had another thought, probably related to previous comments:

Rather than being "right-wing" isn't blogging more liberal (in the classic sense) or even libertarian? Socialism tends towards authoritarianism but so do some right-wing ideas.

At the moment there is a (nominally) left wing government in office and its tendencies are authoritarian, hence the blogospere's antipathy towards it. Well, that plus the obvious incompetence. But if there was a right-wing authoritarian government, would we all be classed as lefties? I'm sure quite a few bloggers currently deemed to be wing nuts would have quite a lot to say about authoritarianism with a right wing slant as well.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...


I'm not trying to score points or gloat, but what sort of readership do the blogs affiliated to your site have? Do they match similar right or centre blogs?


Unknown said...

As for traffic, well, who can say? If we can't even identify people correctly, how can there be statistics? There are clearly some huge ones on the Labour side, which is why it's so odd that they've been written out the picture. I don't see why the popularity/frequency chart should be that different between the parties/left-and-right. Therefore, given the disparity in numbers, you have to suspect that Labour-backing blogs get a lot more visitors than those of the other parties.

Have to say that this thread is nothing but hot air and idle speculation:

"... it is an awful lot easier to blog against"

"... left are generally happier with the MSM coverage of their point of view than the right."

"Internet right-wingers are often ruggedly individual and don't fit into any simple media mould. So obviously now they've got a chance to let off some steam and find ideological bedfellows they seize it with both hands."

"I'm sure the lefties will try and use this to say that bloggers, especially the right wing ones (broad or otherwise) are sad loners who spend their lives sat in front of the computer."

Just one stereotype after another.

Trevor Ivory said...

Isn't the simple answer that for the first time in many years, it is the centre right that is confident and is busy generating the new ideas that will define 21st century Britain.At the same time, Labour and the LibDems are drifting towards a prolonged bout of naval gazing?

Anonymous said...

Tribune published my article on the rise of the BNP last week but they omitted any reference to my weblog and several other Labour blogs that have highlighted the issue - despite reminders!

Unknown said...

it is the centre right that is confident and is busy generating the new ideas that will define 21st century Britain.At the same time, Labour and the LibDems are drifting towards a prolonged bout of naval gazing?

Well you're not really comparing like with like, there.

No, I'd strongly disagree. It's the liberal centre/left who seem to be making the running. They may not necessarily affiliate to Labour, but there's no enthusiasm for the Tories, nor does there seem to be any obvious intellectual effort coming from the right. Take "markets": the "right" have lost control of that one entirely. Flat taxes and citizens' incomes: it's the centre/left who are really thinking how these things can work, exposing right-wing advocates who are merely interested in the regressive aspects.

Croydonian said...

I'm again inclined to agree with RM, this time on the classic liberal / libertarian bent of those one might call (for sake of convenience) 'right wing'.

As a broader point about oppositionism (even if B4L thinks it is a stereotype - not that his 'argument' went any further than calling it such), it is my experience that partisans for an incumbent government, especially when the opinion polls are going against it, can feel somewhat besieged and with such infertile ground are more likely to keep their peace than howl into a vacuum. Put it this way, how many of us would be able to take a vocal Blairite seriously at the moment?

Anonymous said...


Stereotypes? Careful, there's a bunch of people round here who love to pull apart blanket statements like that:

No1 statement of opinion

No2 qualified by "perhaps" and a joking reference to conspiracy theories. If you read the full paragraph you will note that it suggested as a possible reason "right wingers" appear to blog more. The perception that the MSM is biased against the right is probably stronger than the perception that it is biased against the left. Doesn't mean it's true necessarily, but the perception is there.

No3 a statement that blogging is by its nature a solitary activity spun to make the individuals look good (wishful thinking) followed by an observation that even rugged individuals like to find and communicate with like minded fellows sometimes.

No4 almost a follow on to No 3 noting that while solitary activities can be spun as "rugged individualism", they can also be described as "sad and lonely". Ended by a statement of personal preference.

None of them are cases of stereotyping as I learned the meaning of the word.

As for Croydonian's comment, one only has to look at the reaction to Neil Harding's blog whenever he puts on his NuLabour cheerleader skirt. The poor guy does get a lot of stick sometimes.

Let's face it; blogging and commenting gives the little guys a chance to scream at their betters, let off steam and occasionally make some positive contribution to political debate. The potential for anonymity also allows us to kick off the shackles of the pc thought police for a while.

At worst it's a kind of safety valve letting the loons of all persuausions vent their spleens and have fun relatively harmlessly. At best blogging may add another dimension to the wider political debate.


neil craig said...

I've noticed that blogs tend towards the right/libertarian/individualistic (not all the same thing) position & that discussion groups tend even more strongly towards quite extreme leftist membership. Since one is an individual creation & the other a collective one this is not really surprising.

Tim Worstall said...

I don’t think Conservatives or Tories are much bigger an influence in blogs than the left. Actually, I think the two groups most vociferous are the two groups who feel very left out of the traditional media. Weird lefty groupuscules and libertarians. A lot of people who might be described as "right wing" are most definitely not Tories: myself for example.

Neil Harding said...

Tim: Maybe you should tell Ian that, he lists you as a Conservative blogger.

Ian Dale has done no research on this, 17 is a made up figure about B4L, which tells you everything about Ian Dale and the party he represents.