Sunday, July 19, 2009

Letter to the Editor (And the Reply)

This is an email I received this morning...

Hello Iain,

I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you that your blog has lost most of it's punch. You're obviously devoting time to your other media work which means your blog is no longer a leader in it's field.

If there was any significant political news, I always looked to your blog for your very perceptive comments. Now the number of postings is much less and a high percentage of your blog is about your radio/TV appearances, Total Politics or surveys, rather than your views on events and news. Most days, you directed me to other interesting blogs through your Daily Dozen. I'd guess there have only been an average of 2 or 3 full Daily Dozens per month for quite a while.

I feel sad about, what is almost, the demise of probably the best UK political blog which, although slanted towards the Conservatives, was a reasonably independent voice.

I understand the change is probably driven by the need to earn money and I wish you all the best in the new direction of your career.

And now for my reply...

Dear Chris,

Thank you for taking the trouble to write. I agree with you that the last month has not been this blog's finest. Posts have indeed been less frequent, and also perhaps less interesting than normal. I am well aware that I have not been providing my normal level of service and the readership stats confirm this. Let me try to explain.

You understandably put it down to alternative media commitments. Actually, that's not so. I have done less TV and radio in the last month than any other month this year. Indeed, I have turned down more than I have accepted. However, I am running a business, and over the last month I have been heavily involved in setting up a new venture (which I will be telling you more about next week). We have also moved offices and run a conference. I am responsible for the employment of a dozen people and for running a profitable company. If you ask me which has to take priority - that or the blog, I am afraid I know which I must choose.

Blogging is by definition an up and down pastime. Every blogger goes through periods where they are on fire and others which are more fallow. Sometimes there are days when you simply have nothing to say. However, I have created a beast which demands feeding, and if it is not fed the right food it gets emails like yours. I do my best, but I do recognise that my efforts over the last month have not been up to scratch. But that should not provoke knee jerk accusations. I actually don't usually say much about my TV appearances on the blog - I use Twitter for that. And in 140 blog posts over the last month, I have mentioned Total Politics a grand total of six times, and two of those were where I reproduced my interviews with Alan Duncan and Jacqui Smith. Are they not of interest to readers? You are right to upbraid me about the lack of regularity of the Daley Dozen over the last month, although you exaggerate your case slightly. There have in fact been 9. The reason is not laziness, but it is dependent on me being in front of a computer late in the evening to compile it. The last month has been an unusual one in that this has not happened as often as usual, and to be honest there have been several evenings when I have got home and have been too bloody knackered to do it. On one occasion I actually fell asleep typing!

None of this is a result of what you call a desire to earn money. It is mainly because of having a day job, which at the moment is very demanding but also because from time to time I have been suffering from a lack of inspiration. Guido will tell you he goes through the same periods, as, I imagine, do most other bloggers.

But I promise to try to do better over the next few weeks!

Kind regards



Anonymous said...

Fair enough. I did sort of think the blog had been a bit rubbish the past few weeks, but it happens to us all. :)

Bryan said...

Can't say fairer than that!

Archbishop Cranmer said...

"...from time to time I have been suffering from a lack of inspiration."

His Grace shall pray that you rediscover your mojo.

rob's uncle said...

I have no complaints about your blog and look forward to hearing about your new venture.

Anonymous said...

I personally like less comments as it fits easier into my busy life!

If I had nothing to do all day, I might have time to write winging letters. Im busy trying to contribute to the economy!

Just for your information - Its hard keeping up with the blog when there are loads of postings in 1 day! - Although its rare I miss a posting.

Personally I think that the link with Total Politics means Iains blog has access to people other bloggers could only dream of, enhancing its value rather than lowering it.

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, I think we all feel let down after the excitements of June, and the ever-growing possibility that Jonah would be forced to move on. We are all suffering from post-coital slump, without ever having had the required orgasm !

Alan Douglas

bladerunner86 said...

A fair letter and a very adequate response. Thank you Iain for putting it up for everyone to see.
Very commendable.
I do share a lot of the views which corresponds with the letter which was sent to you, and believe its time for you to readdress this.

Although I do not traditionally identify myself with the centre-right I do like to read your blog, but at times have felt you need to cover more breadth and scope in posts but also accept your explanations as to why.

I would like to see more coverage done on foreign affairs and the economy. However I do not feel these areas are ones which you are very comfortable with. So I hope you will take on this ambitious task.

Rich Tee said...

I am suspicious about this. Is this a new strategy by Labour to try and demoralise bloggers?

I am the suspicious type though!

Agent Smith said...

I hope the standard of your blog will become better as it has in my opinion been quite rubbish in the last week. I don't really care much about blogging polls as I think its a waste of time to devote so much attention to it.

Also I think there was too much attention given to equality issues to do with homosexuality and do feel that this blog has on occasion become a vehicle in promoting the gay agenda. Although I do believe in equality issues I think you also need to have more coverage of other things such as the economy etc.

Boy on a bike said...

It's not like we're bloody paying for the content! Whinging bloody poms, I don't know.........

Max Atkinson said...

As one who's fairly new to blogging, I'm amazed at how you manage to post so much interesting stuff so regularly. It also strikes me as perfectly reasonable to mention Total Politics and other things you're involved in. In fact, if I signed a self-denying ordinance never to mention any of my own books on my own blog, I probably wouldn't bother doing the blog at all.

BG said...

What a load of rubbish that letter from Chris was. If I want an insightful blog about what's going on in politics, there are a few blogs I check out and this blog is on top of the list.

Keep up the good work Iain, we need more blogs like this on the web.

Unknown said...

"I have been suffering from a lack of inspiration". Hope the scrotum video has sorted you out!

Anonymous said...

He does have a bit of a point that it is better, generally, to excel at a few things than be a 'jack of all trades..'.

But in modern times, who is to know what will be the 'next big thing' ?

But there are a lot of blogs out there, and unlike newspapers there isn't quite the 'brand loyalty' [or inertia ?] so one could wake up and find that a readership has drifted away very quickly.

Having said that you are the best judge of what to invest your time and money on - but I think you ignore the 'core vote' which has been the foundation for ventures such as Total Politics and Play Radio at the risk of compromising your ability to initiate ventures like that in the future.

Of course, we are now in the 'silly season' and there will be more time to devote to things out side the Westminster Bubble.

Events dear boy, events said...

I don't know if this is much of a story or not. With your connections, have you any idea why Dannatt did not appear on Marr this morning as advertised?.

I blogged about this and now notice the Marr site has changed.

I replied to your Tweet about your mention on Marr on this point.

Hamish said...

My impression is that the blogocracy generally has been in the doldrums recently.
Whether this is just a temporary becalming remains to be seen.

My uncle commented that before WW2 there were few prostitutes in Hong Kong: "too many enthusiastic amateurs". Similarly with bloggers.

There are other factors, such as the emergence of alternative internet/mobile media.

Some factors can be mundane such as bandwidth. I rarely visit LabourList, and you're slowing up a bit yourself, Iain.
I mean that logarithmically.

Your blog is still my first port of call.

be a temporary phenomenon

Simon Gardner said...

I have to concur. It’s been a bit boring lately - made worse by the need for pre-moderation. And now we’re in the silly season...

JohnofEnfield said...

Your blog has certainly dropped down my reading list. This may or may not be a danger sign for you.

Getting a living wage takes priority however.

If I do have a concern it is that GB's performance has absolutely collapsed in the last month and - to mix my metaphors - it should have been all hands to the pumps to give him a really good kicking.

I think that Hatty Harman has also plumbed the depths - what Senior minister has the right to apparently incite racial hatred over an issue that she can know nothing about (the replacement of a member of an ethnic minority on some panel or other by a white person). And the idea of northerners getting a place in government on the basis of their ethnicity rather than merit is fatuous. (I write as a "professional" Yorkshireman).

The 'copter story goes from terrible to an absolute farce. Hutton's revelations are the final nail in GB's coffin.

Have a relaxing summer and come back brimming with energy. There is much work to be done.

Dominic said...

Iain, you're probably tired. Tired of living in such a poorly governed country.

Thursday might inspire you.

Guido's gone off the boil too since all that expenses stuff from the Telegraph.

For what it's worth, I think you're doing rather better.

Best of luck with your new venture.

Plato said...

I think many of us are feeling the same - not much to talk about after the leadership-fest we had just a few weeks ago

And the Euro results.

And the local elections.

And of course Scamalot.

And no Mr Draper either.

We live in lean times apart from helicopters statistics and Norwich by-election.

It's a shame that comment moderation is on again, kills discussion stone dead.

Scary Mary said...

This is an email I received this morning...

Hey coming to the Fox for lunch? Been ages!

And now for my reply...

I'm all over it like a rash..see ya there at 1.

Bomber Harris said...

Iain your blog has become very boring recently.

Sort it out old boy.

Angela said...

I wouldn't worry about it Iain. Sadly, whatever is put in the public domain becomes a "right". If posting on some days is light, even non-existent, some will feel deprived of their "right" to an interesting read.

I have so far managed to cope with your abuse of my rights :)

Devoted fan said...

Iain don't be too hard on yourself. It happens to the best of us at times.

Anonymous said...

Its your blog - and its free!

WV - obfeccar .... 'a swear word of Irish priests'

Pete said...


May I suggest that you offer all the twats their money back?

alistair said...

I enjoy your blog very much and wish to add the following points.
Your blog is free looking at it costs nothing. Complaining about it is like criticizing free ice cream.
After the heights of expenses, local/Euro elections. Things were always going to slow down.
Your twitter feeds are always entertaining.

Little Black Sambo said...

A very gracious reply to Chris's letter (and unnecessarily apologetic, I thought).

Dick the Prick said...

Completely agree with Plato. I've been doing meeja stuff and wittering on about the IMF and stuff - hardly exciting.

@Events dear boy, yeah, noticed that too - bit suspicious.

DMC said...

I have to say fair play to both Chris and Iain for not ranting and responding in a reasonable way.

Anonymous said...

Credit to you, Iain, for responding with humility. You do seem able to accept criticism, as well as admitting errors when they arise. I think that's something your readers appreciate.

While i understand the reader's criticism - or, perhaps, disappointment more than anything - i'd remind him, and others, that this still remains a personal blog to which we have access. It's not a public service blog which you have a duty to attend to.

As a further point, i don't think you're the only one who's been struggling for material or inspiration. Guido's admitted as much, recently. With the exception of the controversy over Afghanistan, and the swine flu pandemic (which in itself isn't really bloggable), we've had a pretty quiet month - particularly compared to Labour's early June antics. This'll remain the way over the summer recess, probably. Come party conference season, i expect to see you back on form!

jailhouselawyer said...

So, it wasn't just me who thought your blog was going to the dogs...

Morus said...

That was a gracious response - I like to think I'd have been that gracious.

The point of "offer him his money back" has been well-made. Not to say that readers shouldn't send this sort of email (reader feedback is crucial), but few realise the toll of writing two or three posts a day when you also have full time work. Oh, and it's unpaid.

I hadn't really noticed a drop off, but that's partly because I read several, so when one blogger is attending slightly less, others are going at full steam - my daily read stays pretty much the same.

At the moment, after local/Euro elections, several attempted coups by the Cabinet, Smeargate, Expensesgate, and all that drama, there is not so much to write about at the moment (in terms of political intrigue). Silly Season is usually pretty barren, and this year will be no exception.

Come Party Conference Season, the blogosphere will be firing on all cylinders again, then through to the next GE. Roll with the lulls.

PS Is there something terribly odd about His Grace using the word 'mojo'? Rather unsettled me.

Word Verification: whingli

Unknown said...

Is this new venture the new publishing company? I hear you may be publishing Anthony Seldon's new book on trust in British politics.

Iain Dale said...

Luke, you might draw that conclusion, I couldn't possibly comment :)

Unknown said...


Brilliant. I very much look forward to reading the whole book. Had a glimpse at some of the chapters being researched, some very interesting topics are to be discussed. I think it could well be the book that embodies post-recession Britain.

Martin S said...

Chris, nothing is perfect. Sometimes there is a lot to blog about, sometimes not that much.

Of course Iain references the other stuff he does, his radio programmes, Total Politics, reviewing the papers, etc.

Why shouldn't he? In fact, if he didn't, I'd complain and DEMAND that he includes these.

Anonymous said...

Is 'Chris' the letter writer Chris Bryant, of the Y-Fronts on the web fame?

Anonymous said...

@ Your Grace: a mojo is an African-American magical charm. I am shocked that Your Grace is encouraging paganism.

@ Iain: pay no attention to anyone who thinks that "it's" is a possessive adjective. They never, ever have anything useful to say.

Henry Mayhew said...

Sad to see you end your emails with

Kind regards

What the hell does that mean?

Hamish said...

Iain, pay no attention to anyone who thinks "its" is a possessive adjective.

Bungle said...

I can't help but feel you don't actually understand politics at all.

Perhaps its because you didn't study Politics at university.

Furthermore I wonder why you were turned down as a candidate to become PPC for the upcoming General Election? I think because people can see the same thing, that you don't understand politics or the complexities of the political system.

My advice to you Iain is a short and simple one which might be hard to digest. - Have a career change!

Bungle said...

Why didn't you study politics at university? Why did you study German instead?

Radiochild said...

i think your blog is a load of crap. I suggest you delete it.

Simon said...

I think you're not being cloyingly sanctimonious enough, Iain, and you're certainly not doing enough wimmins and gay ishoos, leaving poor Harriet to do all the heavy lifting.

Plenty said...

No complaints about your blog. Great stuff. You must be learning from the master Yaro Starak? He says exactly the same thing as you regarding creativity and writing.

Blogging is not 24 hour news anyway....

The Grim Reaper said...

Were I ever to receive such an email, my reply would be along the lines of:

Dear Chris,
F███ off. You think you can do better, write your own damn blog.

Yours sincerely,
The Grim Reaper.

happyuk said...

You tell em Iain.

At the end of the day if there's nothing in the tank, there not much one can do about it.

During dry periods it is probably better to say and do nothing rather than churn out any old crap just to get the wordage in.

happyuk said...

I quite like Guido's standard response to similar moans: Please accept full refund for non-delivery and fuck off.

killemallletgodsortemout said...


You are such a gentleman. My reply would have been along the line of

Dear Chris,

Bollocks to you.

Yours etc..

It's great that you have ANY time to keep us entertained and informed, and thanks for doing that. Many of us appreciate it.

Unsworth said...

@ Henry Mayhew

"Sad to see you end your emails with

Kind regards

What the hell does that mean?"

Perhaps that is the point...

Anonymous said...

Fair comment, fair reply.

Mrs. Dale said...


when is your next cloyingly sanctimonious, ill-informed, hysertical rant directed at the BNP going to be published?

Osama the Nazarene said...

Have no fears, its still the second blog I visit every day.

Anonymous said...

Lists, Lists, Lists - it's an easy way to fill a page.

mark said...

I agree with Chris. The blog has become self-indulgent. I used to read it every day but now turn first to politicalbetting and only look at Iain Dale's Diary if I have nothing else to do.

disgusted said...

I like your blog because you come across as a nice bloke.

I think you could ramble on about cabbage and still retain an audience.

Unsworth said...

Well you can't please all of the people all of the time, but as this is your blog who cares anyway?

It's unbelievable arrogance on their part to complain. This is not a paying service, is it? But, frankly, I'd be quite happy to pay a modest subscription - as I do with other sources. Even then, if those other sources are not to my liking I simply don't have to use them.

If the content critics don't like your choice of topic they should have enough wit to piss off and find something more to their tastes.

Anonymous said...


How much do you make from the adverts on this site in a busy month?

How much profit do you make from Total Politics in a good month?

Don't forget the Blog.

Anonymous said...

Thought that letter was a bit shitty really given that this very enjoyable blog is entirely free.

Simon B