Incendiary political blogger Guido Fawkesmade an interesting observation the other day that the Left are once again saying that 2010 will be their year to dominate the Blogosphere in a run up to an election and beyond. As he points out, they’ve also said this in 2007, and I remember similar thoughts being voiced when Labour first started playing with computers for campaigning back in the 1980s (as an ‘Old Labour’ member I was involved with Computing For Labour for a while, on and off up to my exit from the party in 1996).
The article started me thinking about the whole business of political blogging. Just to provide a quick view of where I personally come from politically…. I come from the left, but have found myself for the last decade inhabiting the territory of the Libertarian. I’ll get the joke out of the way now ‘Being a Libertarian is like being a Liberal; you can come up with lots of ‘out there’ policies because you’ll never have to bear the responsibility of putting them in to action’ 🙂 My own take on Libertarianism is minimum Government, maximum possible empowerment of communities to provide services locally, with national Government providing only the necessary services and infrastructure that it would be inefficient for local communities to provide. On a personal basis I try to practice what I preach by involving myself in local organisations and efforts to develop local economies and local structures of service provision.
Enough about me – back to the blogging. When a party member blogs they almost by definition need to watch what they say if they intend to adhere to the Party Line. Whilst this may not be important for the ‘rank and file’, if you’re anyone with influence or position in the Party, stating anything that is not doctrine will probably get you a slap on the wrist (or a boot up the bottom) from the powers that be, especially when it is viewed as being important for all to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Which frequently makes a political blog by ‘well known’ politicians as interesting as reading excerpts from the Manifesto document of that party. It’s highly unlikely you’ll find anything truly radical and rare that you’ll find anything that confronts the existing status quo within the Party.
My own attitude towards political blogging is to pay more attention to the more ‘independent thinkers’ outside the mainstream political parties, and also pay more attention to the ideas irrespective of who posts them. Politics isn’t about politicians or political bloggers, spin-doctors, media pundits or journalists; they just practice the business that modern mainstream politics has become. So, my advice would be to treat most blogs by ‘professional’ politicians as marketing efforts for the brand they’re working for. As for the other political blogs – go for ’em! Try them out, whether you agree or disagree with their viewpoint. It’s ideas that are important, not which doctrine they come from. There’s a good list of Political Blogs compiled by Iain Dale here.
Real Politics is about our day to day lives, and how we are permitted to live them – whether that permission comes in terms of laws, resources, money, media influence. The old labels are becoming just that – labels on political product that is less and less relevant. Perhaps the real winners in the political blogosphere for 2010 will be ‘none of the above’ but the ‘Real Politics’ blog posts of the rest of us.