Sunday, September 23, 2007

Guide to Blogging 2007: Top 100 Left of Centre Blogs

The GUIDE TO POLITICAL BLOGGING 2007 is being published on Monday. Featured among the 288 pages are a myriad of blog lists. Now for the TOP 100 LEFT OF CENTRE BLOGS.

There are all sorts of theories as to why the left wing blogosphere in Britain hasn’t really taken off, many of which are discussed elsewhere in this book. But it is a truism to say that there is not a single left leaning blog which attracts a mass audience and the kind of influence enjoyed by several right of centre blogs. The challenge for the left over the next twelve months is to put that right. This list of the 100 best left of centre blogs has been compiled by a group of Labour bloggers. It reflects much of the voting in the main top 500 blogs list in that Recess Monkey is considered to be the top rated left wing blog in Britain. In some ways, it’s an odd choice as posting has been irregular and the monkey got a lot of egg on his face for prematurely announcing the death of Margaret Thatcher earlier in the year.

Labour MP Tom Watson follows closely behind (in fact he missed out on the top position by only one point in the voting!) in second place. Watson was one of the first blogging politicians in the country and while his blog has gone through long periods of inactivity, his resignation from the government last summer made the first Minister ever to resign to spend more time with his blog. And he used it to the full. He’s become prolific in the number of times he posts, although his one line posts often serve to irritate rather than inform. He’s become amazingly partisan, but if there are five Labour ‘must-visit’ blogs, then Watson’s is one of them.

Kerron Cross and Bob Piper were last year’s top two, but have dropped down to three and four respectively. Bob Piper got so fed up with attacks on him by the Tory blogger Prague Tory last year that he gave up blogging for a couple of months. But he returned, with a new blog design and soon picked up where he left off. He’s got a sense of humour to die for and can see through waffle and obfuscation with a searing wit. Kerron Cross is also a very funny chap – sometimes a bit too funny even for himself! Kerron could be the big left wing Blogger which the left is constantly searching for. But he’s got to break out of funny stories to do with parliamentary lavatories. My suspicion is that he likes what he does and doesn’t wish to change.

In common with its LibDem counterpart, Labour Home hasn’t really hit the mark. ConservativeHome has left both of them trailing in its wake. Its position at number 5 in this list is somewhat surprising. The weakness of the left wing blogosphere is highlighted by the
highest new entry, Chris Paul’s Labour of Love at number eight. Paul seems to spend half his time commenting on me or what I have commented on. His conspiracies and paranoia are often hilarious to read, but if this is a true representation of the left of centre blogosphere then God help us all.

Dave’s Part is perhaps the best known blog on the extreme left. Written by Trotskyite David Osler it is brilliantly written and often extremely insightful. It deserves a higher position than number nine.

But don’t let me try to persuade you that there aren’t good and upcoming left of centre blogs. While they may take great delight in slagging me off to their hearts’ content, the Ministry of Truth (new entry at nineteen) and Tygerland (twenty four) are two blogs who like to take a forensic approach to an issue. The Ministry of Truth in particular seems to write a book, rather than a blogpost sometimes, and gets to the heart of the matter. He sometimes gets it wrong (don’t we all) but on other occasions his forensic detective work has given a story a much needed push.

Note that the second number denotes the 2006 position. Two dashes means the blog is a new entry.

1-- Recess Monkey
2-7 Tom Watson MP
3-1 Kerron Cross
4-2 Bob Piper
5-3 Labour Home
6-17 Bloggers 4 Labour
7-32 Newer Labour
8-- Chris Paul's Labour of Love
9-8 Dave's Part
10-35 Luke Akehurst
11-73 Fair Deal Phil
12-- Chicken Yoghurt
13-- Paul Flynn MP
14-- Bloggerheads
15-5 Antonia Bance
16-- British Bullshit Foundation
17-9 Mars Hill
18-4 Harry's Place
19-- Ministry of Truth
20-- John Angliss
21-70 Three Score Years & Ten
22--Rupa Huq
24-14 Tygerland
25-- Jag Singh
26-13 Mike Ion
27-- Parburypolitica
28-- Byrne Baby Byrne
29-19 General Theory of Rubbish
30-- Stumbling & Mumbling
31-21 Austin Mitchell MP
32-100 Snowflake 5
33--Grimmer Up North
34-42 Richard Corbett MEP
35-- Shiraz Socialist
36-30 Labour Humanatist Group
37-- Drink Soaked Trotsykite Popinjays for War
38-- Hak Mao
39-65 Jane's the One
40-10 Jon Worth Euroblog
41-61 Omar's Blog
42-76 Miranda Grell
43-29 Political Hack UK
45--Jon's Union Blog
46--Peter Wheeler
47-- Theo Blackwell
48-12 Normblog
49-- Political Penguin
50-- Johninnit
51-31 Snedds, 52-74 Stephen Newton's Diary of Sorts 53-- Blood & Treasure 54-- Geoff Sez 55-62 Brighton Regency Labour Party 56-39 Ridiculous Politics 57-23 Barry's Beef 58-- Idiots 4 Labour 59-- Some Random Thoughts 60--John's Labour Blog 61-- Bexley Young Labour 62-59 Skuds' Sister's Brother 63-50 Gauche 64-57 Pootergeek 65-- Fat Man in the Bathtub 66-- Social Europe 67-- Furber World 68-- Labour Left Forum 69-24 Leighton Andrews AM 70-- Political Futures 71-- Conor's Commentary 72-- Obsolete 73-72 Black Triangle 74--Five Chinese Crackers 75-81 Baggage Reclaim 76-- Tales from the Sports & Social 77-- Stroppy Blog 78-- Stuart Bruce 79-- Cloud in Trousers 80-- Gordon's Gofer 81-- Random Pottins 82-- Wongablog 83-- Yorkshire Ranter 84-- Book Drunk 85-- Citizen Andreas 86-- Labour and Capital 87-- Michael Meacher MP 88-- Complex System of Pipes 89-- A Big Stick & Small Carrot 90-- Mike's Little Red Page 91-- Potlatch 92-- Unoriginal Name 38 93-- People's Commissar of Enlightenment 94-93 Rhod on Public Affairs 95-- Sharp Side 96-80 Gareth Griffiths 97-- Never Trust a Hippy 98-- Some Day I Will Treat You Good 99-64 Could have been a contender 100-- Darlington Councillor


Unknown said...

Bit of fact-checking.

"Bob Piper got so fed up with attacks on him by the Tory blogger Prague Tory last year that he gave up blogging for a couple of months."

I don't think me asking him to take an offensive post down would motivate Bob to chuck the towel in. More pertinent was the rap over his knuckles from his council boss over the same post.

Also, it wasn't a couple of months. I'm not sure it was even a month. Bob took Christmas off.

"But he returned, with a new blog design and soon picked up where he left off."

Actually his blog redesign came before he went offline.

Luke Akehurst said...

How dare you call my blog "left of centre" and lump it in with this load of loony-leftie rubbish. I'm dead centre moderate and proud of it.

Bob Piper said...

PragueTory is correct (goes outside, washes hands, comes back). I only took a rest for a couple of weeks. However he is equally wrong about the Leader of our Council - who is not 'my boss', that is reserved for the electorate - because Bill Thomas didn't 'rap my knuckles' at all and was very understanding about the fact that this was a storm whipped up by a few Tory bloggers looking for a spot in the limelight.

Chris Paul said...

Thanks Iain. Can't resist the snide remarks we know and love!! I suppose I may be at Number 8 and highest new entry BECAUSE I spend a bit of time correcting or challenging some of what passes for news and facts on your blog, and Fawkes' too for that matter - before he gave up - RATHER than despite that? Doncha think?

Many thanks to those comrades who boosted me to this position. I am not worthy etc etc. Many of the other blogs in this list deserve to be higher than mine.

Aw shucks.

By the way Iain have you acknowledged your mistake on the Greer story coverage yet? You can say what you want about LOL but I do try to correct any mistakes and update views as soon as corrections and new information come to hand.

Even your friend Prague Tory is correcting your inaccuracies and impressionisms!!

PS Dave Osler is NOT on the extreme left. He is a Labour party member for goodness sake. There are places to the left of even the most lefty of our number I'd have said.

Praguetory said...

Bob, but you did decide to take the post down and have a break from blogging only after previously saying it would make you look stupid if you did so and directly after you council leader intervened.

As for Recess Monkey being the number one Labour blogger... I presume people weren't judging on style, intelligence or accuracy.

Mind you I liked the idea of a monkey with egg on his face. If I had to summarise the left-wing blogs on your list I'd probably describe them as a chimps' tea party.

septicisle said...

Second year in a row that Lenin's Tomb ('t appeared on this list - rather an oversight, don't you think Iain?

I'm not sure if there's anything more meaningless than being the 72nd best left-wing blog in the country, but thanks anyway.

Iain Dale said...

Septiscile, I agree and disagree. I would have included it, but I didn;t compile the list. Some leftie bloggers did.

Anyway, it features at Number 206 in the main list which will be published next week.

Anonymous said...

I agree with scepticisle, the absence of Lenin's Tomb seems to make this list a bizzare curiosity at best. I'm also eager to know more about the criteria used in compiling this list, and the mysterious group of bloggers behind it; you refer to them variously as "leftie bloggers" and "labour bloggers", although I'm not sure many people genuinely consider the Labour party to be left wing anymore.

(not that I'm not immensely flattered at being included, at number 88)

Gracchi said...

Interesting list Iain- I'm glad to see Dave Cole's unoriginal name up at 90 some, Dave's blog is only sporadically updated but its really good adn well worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Septiscile? Never heard of him!

Imbecile? Chris Paul, yes heard of him. For the sheer volume of his blogging he deserves a special category. Something like:

"Most blogs with the least comments"

or "Most pointless blog with the most coments from the Hitch or Chris Paul himself"

or "Most unintelligible language used in a blog".

This would give him a chance of No.1 spot in all three.

Anonymous said...

your venomous bile-ridden tory comrades do make me laugh.

In all seriousness im humbled considering i didnt even make the top one hundred last year

yes my apostophe is broken

Newmania said...

Thousands of years from now people will look back on Chris Paul`s Blog in the way they do the Pyramids today.Large pointless blocks of impenetrable repetition.
Incidentally it is not true that the Pyramids were built unwilling slaves .They were a voluntary labour of religious devotion.Puritans wrote vast paranoid excavations of minute detail , Mr. Badman ( Bunyan)is another good point of comparison.
Fascinating for students of the fractured mind

Piper is a curious individual I detect an endearing vulnerability. like a lost child you want to guide back to its parents.You sense he is looking around this open free space certain that somewhere there wil be an official to provide him with rules.This mental agraphobia is the real reason the left don`t blog.

There is much we can learn from both of these poor frightened souls and I am resolved to be sympathetic in the future

PoliticalHackUK said...

43? Still in the top 50, at least.

John A said...

If this is a result of the e-mail you sent out entitled "Top 50 Labour Blogs", then there's no wonder that Lenin's Tomb wasn't included. Many of the best left bloggers are outside Labour... "Left" didn't appear in the email once, whilst "Labour" appeared three times, so I assumed this was merely confined to Labour bloggers. Apologies to those who got missed out because of my mistake.

Furrowed Brow said...

Did I miss the English list?

Five Chinese Crackers said...

74th best left of centre blog eh? Now there's something to wave at the teachers who said I'd amount to nothing eh?

That was irony.

Anyway, the link to the 74th best blog points to number 73. Would it be possible to fix it so the inevitable queue of nubile groupies know where to go?


Bob Piper said...

John is correct. I e-mailed Iain to check whether it was limited to Labour blogs and he replied to say that it wasn't, it was for left of centre.

A lesson learnt for next year I suspect.

As for Newmania it is nice to see he is still rambling along after Cassilis carved him up, chewed him into little pieces and spat him out (intellectually speaking, of course) last week. If ever there was a blogger who deserved our sympathy... this was it. He has been sadly awry since his fellow pet PragueTory decided to spend more time with his family.

Sir-C4' said...

Shouldn't it be "Worst 100 Blogs" Herr Dale?

P.S. Platform 10 and WebCameron are missing from the list.

Sir-C4' said...

PS Dave Osler is NOT on the extreme left. He is a Labour party member for goodness sake. There are places to the left of even the most lefty of our number I'd have said.

EVERYONE on the left is a political extremist. Socialism is a mental illness y'know.

Spirit of 1976 said...

Lenin's Tomb probably should be on the list due to its popularity. Even though most of it is utterly unreadable Trotskyist student bollocks.

Anonymous said...

Strange selection e.g. Antonia Bance with half a dozen comments per article at 15, versus Harry’s Place at 18 but then they, and many other of these blogs, are firmly centre or right, not Left.

I’d be surprised if there are 10 blogs on the list written by someone not in Labour, and so not digestable by any decent socialist.

Southpawpunch - The most Left wing blog in Britain.

Anonymous said...

When reading any survey, we need to know a bit about the methodology behind its compilation; otherwise, I suspect everyone present will agree, it may as well have been plucked out of thin air.

Based on comments from Iain, Bob and John, it seems clear that the group of bloggers who compiled the list were unclear as to whether they were choosing the best blogs on the Left or the best blogs associated with/originating from within the Labour party - and that despite the title of this post, "Labour" was the predominant interpretation. If so, I would suggest that this confusion alone puts this closer to the Iraq Body Count than to the Lancet.

Some other things could do with clearing up, such as, were the list compilers given specific criteria and if so, what? More importantly, how was this group selected?

If the group was selected by Iain Dale from among his "leftie" acquaintances, then he has been able to greatly influence the results simply by filtering (unintentionally, one would imagine) the participants along the lines of his own prejudices.

If, on the other hand, the group was self-selecting, then it still cannot be said to be neutral. From where were these volunteers canvassed? On this blog? In the pages of the Telegraph? It seems likely, in any case, that most of the participants came from among those who regularly follow and engage with the Westminster punditry.

The views of this group are certainly valid, but it excludes a significant plurality (perhaps even a majority) of those who consider themselves left of centre: those who, be it from revolutionary ideology or from a cynicism born of recent political experience, give very little credibility (and, consequently, pay little attention) to anything that comes out of Westminster.

No study is perfect, and I recognise that if this one is presented with no pretence at being comprehensive or conclusive, with its methodology (and any consequent systematic biases) made clear, then perhaps we can still draw some meaningful conclusions. However, when the list is presented with no such qualifiers then we can't really infer very much.

For example, it's now pretty clear why Lenin's Tomb was excluded from the list. Rather than an anomaly, it seems that blogs like the Tomb - unaffiliated with the Labour Party, distant from the Westminster punditry nexus - will have been systematically discriminated against. With such bias excluding at least one of the most popular and lively blogs on the Left, one can't really infer an overall weakness of the blogging British Left from the list.

Still, it's nice to be noticed. I look forward to any clarifications you can provide.

Imposs1904 said...

Socialist Unity Blog should be in the top 100 for sheer readibility alone but, alongside Mac Cuid Blog, it broke the story about the recent shakedown between Galloway and the SWP in Respect.

Kevin Williamson said...

The list has some decent left blogs on it but its not a UK blog list nor a British blog list. It is an English blog list of English bloggers and English blogs.

If someone was genuinely left of centre they would know the difference between British and English. Every Scot is fully aware of the difference so I dont see why the English left cant wise up.

I sometimes despair at the lack of political understanding on the English left. Its no wonder theyre in such an ideological and organisational mess.

Louise Baldock said...

I am curious about who the email was circulated to. Not me for a start, and I was in the 50s last year. Apart from all the obvious sites, I would have wanted to vote for ChorltonParkLabour as one of my choices.

I suspect that those of us who also blog about our lives, hobbies and interests outside of politics wont make it to a political blogging index. We are a bit too diverse.

Anonymous said...

Iain responded to my long comment above via email. Anyone interested can view our exchange here.

John Gray said...

I did think that I should ask why anyone on the centre left should be bothered about Iain's views on this matter?

But last night, I meet Quentin Davies at the Co-operative Movement “do” at Labour Party conference.

Maybe there is hope for you Iain after all?

peter bowler said...

I don't care how the list was compiled, I am immensely chuffed to be number 65.

Is it a good thing? It certainly isn't a bad thing!