Weekend light relief

3:20 am - November 17th 2007

by Sunny Hundal    

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Well, it’s difficult to get more amusing than this. Neil Clark, gloating on Comment is free yesterday about his (relentlessly plugged) weblog 2007 awards win, thinks it’s a victory for the British working classes. I believe he is right in one sense – the British blogosphere over-represents middle-class libertarians. The other group I believe it over-represents is obsessive Trots who love nothing more than to split themselves into smaller and smaller sectarian groups (and throw endless accusations of ‘coward‘ or ‘traitor‘). Just ask the SWP and their chums. Of course I want nothing to do with these time-wasters nor his ‘blogging revolution’. Poor Neil is feeling victimised by me for ignoring him. Show him some love please people…

Update: From the “self-appointed uber elite”, Unity and Robert have responded.
Septicisle and Matt W have also piled in now.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

Didn’t he win with a total of less than 2000 votes?

I’m not entirely sure what he did to win in the first place (other than possibly having more mates to cajole into bumping up the vote tally) since there’s plenty of more popular UK blogs out there.

Sunny is right though about the UK blogosphere being over-represented by far-right libertarians and far-left Trots. We need more blogs in the middle of the spectrum.

There are literally thousands of centrist blogs – I know, I have to sift through them everyday. In fact, if you look at the Lib Dem blogosphere, you will find countless excellent blogs discussing policy, morality, and current affairs.

But they don’t get the headlines because they’re, either, low-key or too serious (appealing to a very narrow group of wonks). The number of liberal/left blogging is not the problem – it’s the profile and, maybe, the tone. The reason Guido et al get the news is because they appeal to larger, vocal and tribal clique, who are interested in political sleaze and slamming whoever they see as part of the nanny-state and increasing “political correctness.”

Anyway, the mainstream media have an agenda in promoting the blogs who are aggressive and shrill. Serious commentary and news from new media frightens them.

The reason Guido et al get the news is because they appeal to larger, vocal and tribal clique, who are interested in political sleaze and slamming whoever they see as part of the nanny-state and increasing “political correctness.”

Yes, I suppose that’s true. Also true of the far-left blogs who have their own vocal and tribal clique. And blogs like Harry’s Place, Dave’s Part and Socialist Unity can be gloriously entertaining when the readership start yet another Judean Peoples Front-esque spat and erupt in massive blogfights across the comments threads.

Sing with with me, to the tune of the “Itchy and Scratchy Show” theme:

They fight!
They fight!
They fight fight fight fight!
Fight fight fight!
Fight fight fight!
The left-wing and liberal shoooooooow!

I think I’ve show him plenty of love over at MoT.

Aaron, it’s not just the profile and the tone though, it’s at least in part the poor state of technology for actual discussion. Trackbacks between blogger, typepad and wordpress blogs still remain unreliable and haphazard.

The comments section here and elsewhere doesn’t actually encourage discourse except in quiet diaries because it’s just one long line of comments. When someone posts RE:Sunny #10 at comment 73 of a 109 comment article, you know few readers are going to keep up with the exchange.

However, as you note, the political reality remains that thoughtful policy discourse isn’t going to get a lot of press attention. There’s no getting easily around that.

Who are these “right wing libertarians”? I’d like to see if they are actually libertarian at all.

BTW, one cannot label someone “right wing” just because they disagree with a leftist stance!

I actually added Clark to the ol’ RSS feed jobbie in the run-up to this award (that I’d never heard of), simply because his constant bleating for people to vote for him combined with the manner in which he articulated his begging (“Neil Clark stands for The People. This blogging award would be a Victory for The Proletariat!”) was one of the most unintentionally hilarious things I’ve read in a long time.

Beyond parody.

Roger Thornhill,

No, they’re not particularly robust libertarians – the majority are Thatcherites for one thing. Thatcher: not exactly remembered for loosening the grip of the state, was she?

Re Metatone @6, that’s one of the reasons I like comment threading on blogs—works very well on blogs like Slashdot and anything Livejournal hosted—having tried a number of platforms including Blogger and WordPress, I ended up back there while I and a few others worked on the technology for a better system. There’s a plugin in beta that someone I know is working on that works really well at combining a lot of good discursive elements for WordPress—when it’s done I’ll send Sunny and Robert a link and an example of my test install to play with.

Of course, we could horribly corrupt the system for next year, and get someone completely spurious in first place if we wanted, wouldn’t take much, and could be done very discretely as well…

It’s right that there are a lot of mid-range personal ish left/liberal blogs, and smaller numbers of higher profile rightish blogs, and I personally prefer to read a chunk of different sites on my aggregator. We don’t have, nor do we need, a Guido or a Dale. We have a huge bunch of us interlinking and talking to each other when we want to. The Lib Dem Blogs aggregator is a blessing and a curse for the Lib Dems—there are loads of blogs out there, partially because of it, and a good blogger (like Charlotte or Alix) can break in and get notcied very quickly because of it.

But it also leads to a very insular sphere—half of the complaints from LDs from this place were “where are all the liberals” when what they meant was “where are the names I recognise”, because pretty much all the names I knew that Sunny and Robert chose to write here are people I was reading and mostly agreeing with already. Most of em, anyway.

MatGB, I think you’re spot on about all that.

Re: comment thread, I did consider that for this site, although it can get a bit confusing sometimes. But I am willing to try it out if its a good implementation.

Aaron: The reason Guido et al get the news is because they appeal to larger, vocal and tribal clique, who are interested in political sleaze and slamming whoever they see as part of the nanny-state and increasing “political correctness.”

Yup, as Dave Hill now calls them – the Seething Classes. Heh, I love that phrase.

Metatone and others you are entirely right- thoughtful analysis is trumped often by Guido like rubbish, however I think that its not entirely hopeless. The thing about it is to get people moving between blogs- in the states the wonkosphere and the blogosphere seem much more integrated. I think part of this might be the slow maturing of the British blogosphere- at the moment the British blogs play very much to the lowest market, but as audiences increase it could be that different audiences come online and slowly a wonkosphere grows up.

Who the hell is Neil Clark?

Someone who plays very much to the lowest market.

Has anyone actually ever seen Neil Clark and Alan Partridge in the same place at the same time?

Good debate. I’m totally unimpressed by the Clark-monster.

I reckon it was 19 “vote for me” posts and updates in 5 days, and 4 or 5 “you can vote every day” reminders, followed up by this statement in the “Comment is Free” post header:

“My blog just won the best UK Blog award – because my views are more in tune with ordinary people than most in the blogosphere”

This statement demeans us all, because we all know it is not accurate.

The man is dishonest or delusional – I don’t know which.

Matt Wardman

16. douglas clark


Or, has anyone seen Dave Spart (of Private Eye fame) and Neil Clark at the same time? They do seem to be doppelgangers.

Someone is touting him as a potential Parliamentary Candidate, but he seems strangely silent on that front. Now that would be a real test of his popularity, don’t you think?

Excellent comment Aaron.

I’d suggest that one of the purposes of LC should be to get that policy analysis and bring it into the larger arena.

Matt W

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