How social media will affect politics: at Progressive London


10:30 am - January 28th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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I’ve been asked to speak at the Progressive London conference this Saturday, on the subject of how blogs and social media will affect the political climate and maybe even the upcoming election.

You may have read a fair bit on the growing prominence of leftwing blogs recently and, where the analysis has come from right-wing bloggers, most of it has been horse-shit. Lefties have been making a lot of noise recently on blogs and Twitter – I won’t deny that. But much has been speculation and back-scratching rather than straightforward strategic planning and thinking.

My talk at Progressive London will be the first attempt to lay out some thoughts on where LibCon could go and how. Next week from Monday I’m going to write some thoughts here on our editorial policy, how the left needs to do things differently and how we could prepare for a Tory government.

New Labour may be in power and the Tories may think lefties control the establishment, but make no mistake: we are on the outskirts. We are not the establishment. We face a tightly organised conservative machine, aided by a growing group of front organisations, that further the Tory agenda. It’s time we became more unashamedly partisan about our agenda.

I don’t know of any other blog that gets so many right-wingers coming on to say what they think should be published or what we shouldn’t write about. This blog isn’t for a “balanced debate” and neither is it for right-whingers. It is here to reflect the broad range of left-wing thinking and to promote others to build a new left-wing movement. More on this on Saturday and next week.

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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


I don’t know of any other blog that gets so many right-wingers coming on to say what they think should be published or what we shouldn’t write about.

True. And it’s so pathetic and futile. It’s something I truly fail to understand. The amount of right wingers crowding LC and offering advice on what (not) to write is staggering. Not to mention those who deliberately disrupt entire threads. Some are most certainly bored shitles, but I reckon it betrays something deeper…more psychological.

We are not the establishment. We face a tightly organised conservative machine, aided by a growing group of front organisations, that further the Tory agenda. It’s time we became more unashamedly partisan about our agenda.

But then, what is the establishment? “The whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised” is the classic definition, and after 13 years in power it’s hard to argue that New Labour are the outsiders. That will shift, I’m sure after the election, and there’s probably a sense in which it is already shifting as people position themselves for the change. But I think that arguing that Labour and the left in general are in a sort of ghetto of lack of influence is to overstate your case.

I do apologise, incidentally, for breaking in on a private party. Perhaps you ought to have an admissions policy, to ensure the correct uniformity of opinion. Disagreements are so unhelpful in arguments I find.

it’s hard to argue that New Labour are the outsiders.

The left is not the same as New Labour.

Perhaps you ought to have an admissions policy, to ensure the correct uniformity of opinion.

I don’t want a uniformity of opinion – after all getting a bunch of lefties to agree on anything is much harder than you’d think. The problem is that the left and the right just don’t have the same goals – and frankly I’m not interested in what right-wingers have to say about what we should be pursuing or writing about.

redpesto – good point. I’d forgotten about CIF..

I don’t know of any other blog that gets so many right-wingers coming on to say what they think should be published or what we shouldn’t write about.

I’d be tempted to say the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’

@2: What you’re missing is that many of us don’t consider New Labour to be part of the left. We’re so ghettoised that even the party that ostensibly exists to represent us consistently acts to marginalise us.

The left is not the same as New Labour.

Oh, well if the definition is that fringe to the left of the PLP, then no, you’re not the establishment. Nor will you be. Which is, presumably why you’re off at a conference with Richard Gott and Andrew Murray.

Although, obviously, the views of a right winger carry less weight than those of a Soviet sympathiser and a Stalinist.

Oh, well if the definition is that fringe to the left of the PLP, then no, you’re not the establishment. Nor will you be.

Coming from a party who’s most celebrated speaker at conference was Daniel ‘NHS 60 year mistake’ Hannan? Tell me how likely he is to get into the shadow cabinet.

Isn’t it quite natural for people who browse blogs to engage with those they disagree with, rather than just occupying those blogs that correspond with their own views already? Isn’t it even healthy? I know that my RSS is full of blogs from all over the political spectrum, and not just so I can keep tabs on “the enemy”, so I hope it’s healthy.

Aren’t there left-wingers who comment on right wing blogs too? Isn’t it perhaps a tad paranoid to see this blog as particularly picked on by its opponents … most of the big readership blogs that I read constantly receive comments from people who hate their views. Personally, I’m not sure how you tell the difference between people saying “what they think should be published or what we shouldn’t write about” and people who are simply stating their disagreement with you, and I suspect the two get mixed up.

I don’t think there’s anything pathetic, futile* or psychologically dubious about commenting on sites that are from the other side of the political divide than yourself (that’s not to say that some of the right wingers who post on this site aren’t a few cans short of a six-pack. Others, however, make valuable contributions imho).

* it is, however, usually futile trying to persuade a blogger to change their stripes. I prefer this site to be a place for “balanced debate”, but there’s no point in my trying to persuade Sunny of that, because he wants this site to be for people who come from a left-wing perspective. My worry about that is that if you happen to hold some mistaken views, you need to listen to people who can correct you, not dismiss them as right wing. For a start, I don’t know how you can police a comments section to rid it of the wrong sort of dissenter (surely you want to permit some sort of disagreement) without it becoming a circle jerk.

Coming from a party who’s most celebrated speaker at conference was Daniel ‘NHS 60 year mistake’ Hannan? Tell me how likely he is to get into the shadow cabinet.

Given that he’s not an MP? Ooh, pretty unlikely I’d have thought. Especially given that there are only about 100 days left of there even being a Tory shadow cabinet.

If there was a wider point to that, I suppose it’s that the right wing of the Tory party is not going to be the establishment either? Maybe, maybe not. But you seem to be disowning your entire parliamentary party and striking out on your own. I’m not. I’m not even particularly ‘right wing’ for a Tory – at least not in the ideological Hannan/Carswell sense. So I’m not sure what point you’re making.

Incidentally, now you’ve mentioned Hannan, don’t you have to even things up with a post on Rod Liddle?

10. astateofdenmark

The whole Hannan thing is a bit weird. Carswell co-wrote the plan and even started the get rid of the speaker movement going. He’s also an MP, so liable to be more influential.

Yet it is Hannan that gets more attention. Most weird.

10 – Hannan’s a more effective media performer. Carswell also looks a bit…odd.

That said, the attention paid to both of them is a bit excessive. Certainly it’s out of proportion with the influence they have within the party.

12. Mike Killingworth

[3] Yes. Actually it’s a compliment, of course. I was at a conference on Saturday where Madeleine Bunting admitted that the level of abuse on CiF – as on here occasionally – is such that often she and her women colleagues cannot bear to read the comments threads.

The medium is inherently transactional and unhumanistic. It encourages anonymous or quasi-anonymous abuse, and there are no non-verbal clues to indicate whether any given poster is or is not off their head on some substance or other at any given time. (This is even more of a problem for Mike Smithson, for example, who has commenters in most known time zones.)

[5][6] In a funny kind of way, you’re both right. I think those of us who position ourselves to the left of NuLab (God knows it’s not exactly crowded) do have to look seriously at the prospects of ever obtaining mass support. Particularly in a society where the majority self-identify as middle-class of sundry strata.

The Tories are going to use the deficit as an excuse to dismantle the 1945 settlement (something Thatcher never dared to contemplate, let alone act upon) and there is, as yet, no evidence that people will not accept this. After all, every Essex man and woman who has had a holiday in Florida or a shopping trip to the Big Apple will have seen for themselves that “ordinary working people and their families” can apparently survive quite well with a market-based health-care system, to take just one example. As do people returning to visit their extended families in Pakistan, Turkey and so on.

An ageing society (with more childless people than ever before, at least among the majority white community) may well not care about global warming either: there is an instrumentality about MMCC denial that we ignore at our peril.

We glibly suppose that economic hardship in itself generates solidarity and increases the popularity of “left” values. That is not a mistake the founders of Trade Unionism – such as Joseph Arch – would have made. Could they return to advise us, they might even tell us that the case is lost, irrevocably and finally. For they were unable to organise across religious boundaries, let alone racial ones. Class is the weakest and most “civic” of all sources of political cleavage – the Russian Revolution misleads us because it took place in a racially and religiously homogenous society, thereby making class conflict look a sight more violent than it usually is (the 1970s in Britain, where conflict was real, felt to be real, yet rarely violent, are a far more typical case).

I am resigned to my unborn grandchildren finding my political views as quaint as we all find the Divine Right of Kings. It’s called the Dustbin of History.

You’ll have to rename the site, if you want it to be a more partisan “left-wing Labour” organisation.

14. Shatterface

‘I don’t know of any other blog that gets so many right-wingers coming on to say what they think should be published or what we shouldn’t write about.’

You don’t have to be ‘right-wing’ to despair at ‘Why Guido Fawkes isn’t worth listening to – Part 10,000,000’ or ‘Oh look – Iain Dale is a Tory and says Tory things’

‘This blog isn’t for a “balanced debate” and neither is it for right-whingers.’

Maybe it’s not for ‘balanced debate’ but ‘rational debate’ or ‘evidence based debate’ shouldn’t be ruled out of bounds.

‘It is here to reflect the broad range of left-wing thinking and to promote others to build a new left-wing movement.’

So do you *actually* mean a ‘broad range of left-wing thinking’ and promoting a ‘new left-wing movement’ or do you want to become ‘more unashamedly partisan about our agenda’?

Partisanship is about taking a side and defending it no-matter what: it’s not about addressing genuine concerns in a way that builds a genuine left-wing momement, it’s about policing the boundaries of what you personally think is ‘left-wing’.

This blog isn’t for a “balanced debate”…….. It is here to reflect the broad range of left-wing thinking and to promote others to build a new left-wing movement.

So.

Not interested in the liberal bit at all- maybe you need a new name then, because that’s the only reason I’m here.

You say your blog isn’t for balanced debate, that what you want is a space where, Claude, Paul and Dave can confirm each other’s prejudices whilst Daniel shouts “right on comrades” from the side lines? I guarantee you and they (well maybe not Daniel) would be bored to tears in five minutes and any influence you currently have would be shot to pieces.

What is needed is not a coalition of closed minds, but an understanding that the debate has moved on from a straight left/right dichotomy and when I see Sunder prepared to engage with Hannan or Unity advocating education vouchers I think perhaps this may be happening.

And then you tell us to fuck off whist you and your mates reconstitute Stalinism for the 21st century.

Fine.

Mike @12. Nice post by the way.

16. Shatterface

‘You’ll have to rename the site, if you want it to be a more partisan “left-wing Labour” organisation.’

Exactly. Is LibCon going to hold on to the likes of Lee Griffin if the closer we get to the election we’re asked to dig out our clothes-pegs and vote – yet again – for a government which has betrayed every last liberal or left-wing principle?

17. Luis Enrique

on further reflection … it’s obviously no problem running a blog where the editors/writers come from a broad left-wing perspective, it’s a bit harder expecting the comments section to be populated solely by people of the same stripe. Personally (and Sunny, I’m not trying to tell you what to do with your place, just making an observation) I think if you’re going to try to police a comments section to mold it to your liking, you need to do it not on the basis of what people say (right or left) but on how they say it (reasoned, evidence based, civil) and you just have to live* with right-wingers in the comments section.

I think having a diverse comments section is just part of what “social media” is – it comes with the territory.

* from my point of view, intelligent right-wingers making worthwhile contributions would be positively welcome; I presume that from Sunny’s point of view, wanting a forum for discussion amongst left wingers, they play less of a useful role.

I couldn’t agree more with the last paragraph, on many posts the number of right-wing commentators vomiting forth outnumbers those of a left-wing persuasion.

And little surprise that the usual suspects pass by here to condemn that concept and in doing so expose the problem, which is that they homogenise the left all together as if we are some unified force for agreement. There is enough difference in those of us on the left without the right wading in.

Also, has it not occurred to those that come here with no affinity to the politics of the place, that when faced with an external foe, many of us (who do share the political affinity of the blog) will band together, in spite of our differences, to bat you off.

We’d be better off without you.

yeah – democracy is democratic, so we don’t have to be – partisanshipppppppppppppppp

“This blog isn’t for a “balanced debate” and neither is it for right-whingers. It is here to reflect the broad range of left-wing thinking and to promote others to build a new left-wing movement.”

As one of those undoubtedly being aimed at there I can tell you why I personally keep coming around here. I’m hoping for evidence of “left-wing thinking”. And sometimes I find it.

Other times there’s a great deal of left-wing and very little thinking. We’ve had entirely absurd numbers about rape being offered to us, entirely silliness about Bindel’s ruminations upon trafficking numbers and so on.

There are also things perhaps more contentious (Oregon raises taxes on coproations….no, corporations don’t pay tax, people do) about which I try to persuade people around here.

And there’s a very good reason why I do try to persuade people around here as well as singing to the choir at my own place. Because we (or at least, some good portion of us) actually share the same desires. To make the poor richer, to aim in banishing absolute poverty from the world, you know, these things can in fact be done.

But they have to be done the right way (as in correct, not right or left way) and sadly, I think that some around here have such garbled views of reality that they wish to charge off down paths of action which will make these problems worse (as an example, infant industry protection for Africa. Try reading a history of what happened when they tried this between independence and the 80s for how well that worked.).

No doubt others think the same of my views….but that’s why we have debates, discussions, exchanges of views: what’s the best way to get to our common goals?

No?

Of course, if the common goal of this site is simply how to get more lefties into power then this isn’t the right place for me at all. I’ll have to find somewhere else trying to work out what is the right thing to do to achieve more important goals than that.

Also, has it not occurred to those that come here with no affinity to the politics of the place…

Hell, it’s called Liberal Conspiracy. Is it so unreasonable to expect the occasional bout of liberalism?

“To make the poor richer, to aim in banishing absolute poverty from the world, you know, these things can in fact be done.”

How about closing the gap between rich and poor by also making the rich poorer? Or not?

Tonga Tim:

Again, I have no idea why people who have no affinity to the politics of the place come here, personally, although I;m sure many people would disagree, I can think of nothing worse than going to some website where the main view is utterly opposite to mine.

Hence the fact I’ve never been to Storm front, or any of the Tory holes, aside from EPIC DALE when he’s making a fool of himself over Tim Ireland.

But this place attracts a huge raft of people who have no interest in the shared message of the place.

Which I think is odd.

24. Luis Enrique

Daniel Hoffman-Gill, meet Confirmation Bias.

But this place attracts a huge raft of people who have no interest in the shared message of the place.

Which I think is odd.

Debate? Exposure to the arguments of others? Attempts at understanding the motivations of people who think differently to you? There is more to intellectual debate than people standing around saying ‘yes I agree’, ‘me too’, ‘anyone who doesn’t agree with this must be stupid and/or evil’.

Even someone just playing devil’s advocate is a good way to test how well-founded an argument is. And one can always scroll past the posts that genuinely add nothing to a thread anyway. God knows there are enough of them on here.

Spain’s worst left-back meet Manfred Bender.

“How about closing the gap between rich and poor by also making the rich poorer? Or not?”

If it were only the gap that mattered, perhaps. But currently global wealth ($8,000 per capita if all averaged out) ain’t enough: we need to create more wealth. And taking wealth from those who create it to give to others does at least slow the creation of wealth….

Tonga:

“Debate?” Very rarely, more like two sets of immovable thought meeting on the Internet, I mean Internet debating is in itself impossible I think, or more accurately, it just doesn’t work.

For reasons of disconnection I think and my old bug bear of anonymity mixed with the problem of without the social constrictions that face to faCe discussion incurs little is achieved.
“Exposure to the arguments of others?” I don’t know about you but I am more than exposed to right-wing arguments on pretty much everything because I read books and keep a keen eye on the news as I’m sure you do.

“Attempts at understanding the motivations of people who think differently to you?” I don’t think an Internet forum is a) a good place to ascertain the motivations of others and b) a good place to make your motivations at all clear.

“Even someone just playing devil’s advocate is a good way to test how well-founded an argument is.”

Maybe face to face, not that I’m a fan of playing the devil’s solicitor anyway, seems glib but on the Interwebs, such things just come across as…well…cunty. Even with the invention of that sarcasm symbol thing.

“And one can always scroll past the posts that genuinely add nothing to a thread anyway.”

Often do but be nice if they weren’t there in the first place.

“God knows there are enough of them on here.”

Total agreement!

Tim W:

And that’s way I’m on the opposite ‘side’ to you!

I have no idea why people who have no affinity to the politics of the place come here

No doubt to feast on the bounty of your knowledge, be mesmerised by the logic of your argument and transfigured by the erudition of your prose.

That’s my best shot at it, Daniel.

pagar:

You are a massive, massive twat.

All the best!

Very rarely, more like two sets of immovable thought meeting on the Internet, I mean Internet debating is in itself impossible I think, or more accurately, it just doesn’t work.

It’s true that, every so often you meet someone either incapable of argument or capable of doing so only through insult and irrelevance. But as I said, that can be ignored. On this site, for example, there tend to be two sorts of posts. The yah-boo political hurly burly ones, and the more interesting (to me…) analytical ones. The latter very often allow for disagreement and debate, the former don’t. And it’s not altogether true that opinions can’t be changed. Paul Staines used to believe that you could issue writs…

“Exposure to the arguments of others?” I don’t know about you but I am more than exposed to right-wing arguments on pretty much everything because I read books and keep a keen eye on the news as I’m sure you do.

Maybe so. But where sites like this differ from the news is that you can respond. John Humphries has never once answered one of my counter-arguments on the Today programme, even though I shout them quite loudly.

Maybe face to face, not that I’m a fan of playing the devil’s solicitor anyway, seems glib but on the Interwebs, such things just come across as…well…cunty. Even with the invention of that sarcasm symbol thing.

Don’t agree with this I’m afraid. Someone pointing out arguments against your position – even if they do not fully agree with them – is an invaluable way of determining its strength. Yes men do not make good advisers. As Luis says – you get myside bias.

That’s my boy!!!!!

34. Luis Enrique

DHG

eh? you’re on the opposite side to Tim W because he wants to raise the absolute level of income? (because he thinks the global average of roughly $8000 per year is too low).

You are opposed to any poverty reduction, beyond that which could be achieved by raising the poor up to the current global average? (and bringing the rich down to that average). And that’s why you’re on the opposite side to Tim W?

Tim J:

You see, I don’t think it is ‘every so often’, I think it is all the time, seriously, when has anyone of a right-wing bent had their mind changed by a post and when has a right-wngers comments changed the mind of the left-winger?

(Forgive the use of massive generalised terms)

It is not about people being incapable of argument or capable of doing so only through insult and irrelevance, it is about no one really listening at all because their fundamental core values are so different.

This is then magnified by the pretty awful medium of communication that is the comments section on a blog.

“But where sites like this differ from the news is that you can respond.”

Indeed you can but what is the value of that response? or the ensuing value of the ensuing responses? My heart tells me very little indeed. Perhaps the key to it is in your comment here which is that it feels good for you (or us, or me or whomever is commentating) and agree, comments have a personal value but away from that, I don’t think they have much else.

pagar:

Nice to see you start the personal attacks and then congratulate yourself for doing so.

w00t!

Spain’s average holding midfielder:

To be clear, as being a poor man’s Clayton Blackmore can be troubling, Tim W and I are on opposite sides because he is not keen of taking the wealth off those that have a lot of it.

Exactly. Is LibCon going to hold on to the likes of Lee Griffin if the closer we get to the election we’re asked to dig out our clothes-pegs and vote – yet again – for a government which has betrayed every last liberal or left-wing principle?

Who said that we’ll take a joint position that everyone should vote Labour?? Do you actually read the site or are you just projecting again?

Is it so unreasonable to expect the occasional bout of liberalism?

Oh we have liberalism – we just don’t have wingnuttery on here. Sorry to disappoint, perhaps you’d like to try Iain Dale, Guido, ConHome…

maybe you need a new name then, because that’s the only reason I’m here.

You’re only here because of the name? Oh dear…

In fact I expect significant numbers of our readers to vote Libdem and I’m happy with that. I’m supporting a Green candidate against Charles Clarke in Norwich, and Caroline Lucas in Brighton.

Do you people who get so stroppy about Labour actually read what I write or this shit just copied and pasted from earlier comments? Honestly.

35 – I’m not quite so Gilbertian in my views!

“Nature always does contrive / that every boy or girl born alive / is either a little liberal or a little conservative,”

Argument can change opinions. My views have distinctly mellowed since I was at university – insofar as I no longer think that there is an obvious and correct answer to every problem. Much of this was through arguments, with lefties and righties alike. And strict intellectual ghettoisation is not a good thing.

One thing I do agree though is that when arguments become aggressive, people tend to revert to highly oppositional positions. At this point everything gets a bit static, as positions are merely recited rather than thought through. It’s one of the reasons I try and maintain a tone of sweet calmness throughout. (Plus that winds everyone up beautifully…)

Tim J:

With regards to arguments becoming aggressive, I agree but that is a by-product of the Internet and communicating anonymously via typed words only AND on issues of a very personal nature.

It also induces the state of static you describe.

But, I repeat, I think that is because comments on a blog are perhaps one of the worst ways to communicate, perhaps only bested by SMS and semaphore.

Oh we have liberalism – we just don’t have wingnuttery on here.

Oh Sunny. Why is it you are so quick to decry the view that the left is a homogenous movement, and yet simultaneously lump everyone who isn’t in your gang (defined as being to the left of Labour) as a wingnut? it just looks a bit…silly.

RE: Luis Enrique.
I reiterate. I really do suspect you inspired this post. It just fits the bill so well 😉

Sunny,

“I don’t know of any other blog that gets so many right-wingers coming on to say what they think should be published or what we shouldn’t write about. ”

It might disappoint some, but I am open about why I like to post here (other than the fact that I get some very interesting and thought-provoking responses). It is simply that I would like to see a left-wing alternative I could vote for, and I am therefore prepared to try and suggest ideas and approaches (sorry if my pedantry irritates but so often a clear message is confused by presentation) that might help in this. After all, if you can attract me (who is contrary to some opinions not opposed to liberal socialism, just to most of its current presentations) then you can clearly build up the sort of majority needed to bring about real change.

Herein lies the problem. I fear that the left of the political spectrum is retreating inwards, whether it be the fact I have only once in the last three or so years been accosted by a socialist worker or whether it is the fact that the major political leaders of the movement(s?) are experessing only pragmatic and not ideological ideas. And this is allowing the right to be complacent and promote a brand of economic conservatism, with worrying social conservative elements, that is probably no better than the current failed attempt at social democracy, with the fallback being a perhaps too extreme form of libertarianism. To balance these out, there needs to be a viable and opposed (and hopefully non-harmful) left-wing movement to which people can move their support.

So by limiting the conversation to those already in the left-wing movement, you risk losing out. You may not find my contributions as helpful as I hope they are, but there is a need for something that appeals to those of us who may not be swing voters today but are not blindly partisan either. If you do not engage with us when you start on your new direction, do you expect us just to fall in line? You can debate with others on the left all day, but if the majority of voters do not like any of your ideas, how will this help either the left or democracy as a whole.

Remember, the BNP is not left-wing (nor right-wing – it is the dark side of the political spectrum). It does however have the potential to occupy the space of a failed left-wing movement. And how bad would an election between David Cameron/Tony Blair Mk whatever on one side and the BNP on the other be. Hence my concern; I may not agree with you, but I would like to feel I could vote with you should my ‘natural’ options become unpalatable.

With regards to arguments becoming aggressive, I agree but that is a by-product of the Internet and communicating anonymously

With respect, Daniel, and said in a calm voice, I don’t think you are the right person to make the argument that it is anonymity of communication on the internet that causes aggression.

Watchman:

“It is simply that I would like to see a left-wing alternative I could vote for”

Fair enough but you seem to be putting too much weight on this site, which after all doesn’t represent any party at all and offers a wide spread of leftish thought.

Also, Lib Con is not a measure of “the left of the political spectrum” it is a weblog.

“So by limiting the conversation to those already in the left-wing movement, you risk losing out.”

As many, including me have already pointed out, this is untrue, you are not only confusing the ‘job’ of Lib Con, you are also vastly overestimating the format of an Internet blog and its comments section, never mind lumping all on the left into one group.

Sunny will correct me if I am wrong but Lib Con is not there to appeal to voters or for votes.

pagar:

Seriously, best to stop with personally attacking me, I made my point very clear, also you know that I have also made it painfully clear that a person using a fully transparent identity is not immune from errors, esp. when they are wrought out of them by anonymous cowards.

So unless you want to be done for trolling, how about you drop it now?

46. Shatterface

DH-G: ‘…on the Interwebs, such things just come across as…well…cunty’and

‘pagar:

You are a massive, massive twat.’

And seriously, you think your contributions add to the debate more than, say, Tim Worstall’s often incorrect but usually polite, articulate and well argued posts?

47. Flowerpower

Sunny H

As someone relatively new to this site, could you please clarify something?

I can see that you are by no means a slavish supporter of everything the Labour Party says or does, but are you actually a member of the Labour Party?

Daniel,

I don’t think Pager was talking about errors. He was politely saying, that despite you using your real name you have a tendancy to become abusive and insult other people on the board. And that’s something you know for yourself, so it’s not about being attacked by trolls it’s about having a discussion with people who don’t necessarily agree with everything the other says.

One of the success of this board is that it doesn’t attract trolls in great numbers (I’m afraid it’s probably a bit too boring for them) and that it attracts many people who currently have or have had at some point left/liberal views.

Daniel,

I select this site because it has a spread of left-wing opinion, much of it informed, and does not have an explicitly party line (how far do you think me objectives would get me at LabourList?). I am not looking for you to convert me to supporting someone now – I am open that I expect to vote Conservative at the next election as the best of the options (although this could change) – but my concern is with ensuring that any new movements are not built in an echo chamber but can at least address my concerns, even if I do not agree with the way this is done.

And I do think limiting the discussion to the rump of the left wing risks you losing out. It means in all liklihood you will produce a movement which I will not be able to vote for, so you lose a chance to attract votes such as mine in the future. Unless you are preparing a non-democratic movement (something I very strongly doubt) then it is all very well debating a new direction, but remember it has to get support. I do not want you to agree with me – this would actually result in the situation I fear of a choice between a complacent and probably incompotnet centralist party and the extremists (see Belgium for an example of this process in action) – but I want you to consider that if you are to be successful it is not a matter of rallying the faithful, but also attracting those who may not agree with you. Bluntly, you have to offer something beyond what appeals to yourselves, because that is not enough to win popular votes at the moment.

50. Shatterface

‘I can see that you are by no means a slavish supporter of everything the Labour Party says or does, but are you actually a member of the Labour Party?’

Hard to keep up but I think he’s currently New Labour.

During the Euros he said he voted Green and in 2008 he was urhing ‘brown people’ to vote Tory.

Shatterface:

You are nearly s bad as the racist troll stalking me, in that you take things said with no context, also, interesting how the as another fairly direct speaker you are defending those here under the pretence of non-direct speech. You’ve also ignored my other contributions here AND personally attacked me. Good work that troll. Let’s leave me out of this and stick to the matter at hand.

rp:

I really don’t want another discussion about me thanks, so best just to drop it and stick to the subject matter at hand here; I’m not repeating myself to anonymous coward trolls.

“One of the success of this board is that it doesn’t attract trolls in great numbers (I’m afraid it’s probably a bit too boring for them)”

I disagree with that I’m afraid on both counts. Please look at every immigration post here for reference.

W:

Your latest comment for me contradicts the previous one you left but quite frankly, I don’t care why you come here, aside from and I repeat myself, I find it odd why people who do not believe in the same political values as this blog come here so often.

I suppose it is because I do not spend any time on any right-wing blogs or websites at all. Makes no sense to me at all.

And again, you are really not reading what I wrote and I’m getting sick and tired of repeating myself, this is not an ‘echo chamber’, the left is not a homogenous group that agrees on everything and having right-whingers here only breeds divisive and generic thought.

But I’ve said that already…

Just as I’ve already said that you don;t seem to know what Lib Con is I mean for God sake: “And I do think limiting the discussion to the rump of the left wing risks you losing out.”

You do know this is only a weblog don’t you? And not a policy wing of the Labour/Lib Dem/Green/SWP? Thus we can by all means talk amongst ourselves, disagreeing aplenty but actually be on the same page.

I have no idea where you get the idea that a weblog is attempting to produce some kind of political party you can vote for and that you vote is even desired in the first place?

Some people seem to be confused about the Internet and real life and the boundaries between the two.

52. astateofdenmark

Some interesting thoughts above.

I also started visiting this blog as the name Liberal Conspiracy piqued my interest as a Liberal. Having realised that it wasn’t a Liberal blog, I continue to visit because it has posts articles and views that are fairly distinctive in the blogosphere. At least, it is easier to look in here than go to the blogs of the 5 or 6 main contributers.

And like Tim W, I’m interested in where the left is going. In a democracy, both sides get power in some way or other, at some time or other, so it pays to know what all sides are thinking.

Just going to a blog where everyone agrees is quite tedious and will close the mind before long.

“Just going to a blog where everyone agrees is quite tedious and will close the mind before long.”

I’ve already pointed out that this is a myth and there would be plenty of disagreement amongst those of us on the left side of the spectrum if we weren’t having to group together to bat off some of the more…how to phrase this for fear of upsetting soft and gentle Shatterface’s ears…virulently rightist amongst us.

– This blog isn’t for a “balanced debate” –

That seems a real shame but, hey, it’s your blog, you do what you like.

I come here to keep my mind open to views that don’t necessarily match my own. I’m not really interested in the petty arguing. I just like to see what the counter arguments are.

I think you may have difficulty policing the comments. Just as a suggestion… Why don’t you just ban anyone who’s abusive. I don’t think polite commentators such as Tim W do any harm to your blog. He’s probably quite damaging to your ideology though. Is that the problem?

55. Shatterface

‘You are nearly s bad as the racist troll stalking me, in that you take things said with no context, also, interesting how the as another fairly direct speaker you are defending those here under the pretence of non-direct speech.’

Eh? In what way does what I’ve said even approach racist trolling? I wasn’t even aware you belonged to an ethnic minority: if anything your name suggests a rather affected Englishness. I picture you sipping tea with outstreatched pinky with your brother Tarquin.

‘You’ve also ignored my other contributions here AND personally attacked me.’

Actually I just quoted you using misogynistic langauage in violation of Sunny’s selectively enforced rules rather than engaging in intelligent debate.

‘Good work that troll. Let’s leave me out of this and stick to the matter at hand.’

Leave you out of it? You are the one who insists on personalising every thread with demands to know who we are and vague threats of violence should we address you to your face.

I love the pious attitude that leaks from some people, I for one think there is no such thing as balanced debate, it is a fiction and a myth and certainly does not, nor cannot exist on a format such as the Internet and moreover an weblog.

Pretending it is possible is either naive or wilfully attempting to spin this to make Sunny look bad for being honest, an honesty which has always prevailed here, both in comments policy and elsewhere.

And I love all this: “I come here to keep my mind open…” when the comment you leave shows no sign of that (not that I think that is way you come or actually something that could possibly be expected of you or anyone, we all bring our subjective baggage) and having your mind changed by a weblog is unlikely at best.

Shatterface:

You didn’t undertand what I wrote, which is fair enough but I’m not going to debate things with you that I didn’t even say.

To be clear, I was not calling you a racist troll, merely your use of selective quotes, out of context, reminded me of that particular character.

“if anything your name suggests a rather affected Englishness. I picture you sipping tea with outstreatched pinky with your brother Tarquin.”

Only child, Jewish and raised in the St.Ann’s neighbourhood of Nottingham so so far off it hurts but how about we get off me and onto the post?

Cunt being misogynistic is a moot point to me, as to many I would guess and in some cases, perfectly justifiable. Do keep me abreast of your rulings on words SFace because I really do give a damn; nice dig at Sunny too, keep those colours flying.

Again, you keep dragging this back to me and then blaming me when I want nothing of it and you keep returning to me, oddly fascinated. here’s a thought, drop it?That is unless you want to keep this going?

Also, don’t accuse me of using (I note they are vague because they aren’t actually threats at all) threats of violence, just because my personal feelings about anonymous Internet cowards offends you.

Back on topic then?

…but I am open minded and I have had my mind changed by weblogs, the internet, real-world discussion.

I voted Labour in the last two general elections and now I’d consider becoming an LPUK member and begrudgingly voting UKIP or Conservative in the GE.

So there’s my colours firmly blue-tacked to the mast and ready to be re blue-tacked the next time somebody convinces me otherwise. That’s why I’m here… change my mind! I’m a political canvassers wet dream!

Thanks for clearing that up…

I do rather wonder why so many right-whingers post here & at sites like LabourList. Haven’t they something better to do? Or maybe, in spite of all the hard work they tell us they do, they’re just slacking at work. Still, it’s better that they waste their time drivelling on here than going canvassing for the Tories.

61. Shatterface

‘To be clear, I was not calling you a racist troll, merely your use of selective quotes, out of context, reminded me of that particular character.’

I remind you of a racist because I quote you ‘out of context’? Seriously? And what is ‘out of context’ in quoting you verbally abusing people? What *was* the context in which you called pagar a ‘twat’? (See: I just used the word ‘twat’ in an entirely appropriate context. I used the word without targeting it at anyone.)

‘Cunt being misogynistic is a moot point to me, as to many I would guess and in some cases, perfectly justifiable. Do keep me abreast of your rulings on words SFace because I really do give a damn; nice dig at Sunny too, keep those colours flying.’

I’m anti-censorship: you aren’t. On a recent thread you said everyone should be held ‘accountable’ for what they say; I disagreed. If I wanted to call you a ‘cunt’ I could do so without being inconsistant. And yet despite this you are the one who consistantly uses the c-word while I save it for special occasions. Like the photocopier jamming again.

‘Again, you keep dragging this back to me and then blaming me when I want nothing of it and you keep returning to me, oddly fascinated. here’s a thought, drop it?That is unless you want to keep this going?’

You are the one who insists playing the man not the game. Not the only one, admittedly: and from the OP you pretty much seem to represent Sunny’s ideal reader. Partisan, unthinkingly loyal, capable of only emotional responses rather than reasoned argument.

‘Also, don’t accuse me of using (I note they are vague because they aren’t actually threats at all) threats of violence, just because my personal feelings about anonymous Internet cowards offends you.’

So why DO you want to know who we are? To grass us up to our employers? To ‘out’ those who discuss their sexuality or mental illness online but keep such issues private in public life? Or do you really, honestly think your charisma is so powerful that in a face-to-face debate that what looks like hysteria in print would pass for persuasive argument in person?

@47 Flowerpower: Whether Sunny is a member of the Labour Party (today) is something for him to disclose when it suits him. Unless LibCon turns into a Labour/other party promotional exercise, it doesn’t matter. And as long as it is clear that when Sunny speaks elsewhere, he is not speaking for a collective.

When Lib Con was founded, I thought it would be a bit like the broad left movement in student politics of the late 1970s and 1980s. A space where non-tribal Labour followers, Liberals (small and large L), independent socialists, Greens (small and large G) and independent thinkers would congregate. To a degree, it has met that expectation, but I know a few small L liberals who have found the debate too robust here.

I welcome polite and non-distracting contributions from the right. Luis Enrique (who I do not consider right wing) has argued in favour of “wide discussion” to counter cognitive biases, and I’ll leave it to him. He does that bit better than me.

Every political party has guest speakers from other parties at fringe events at the annual conference; speakers tend to be wackos with the hide of a rhino, but they aren’t invited so that attendees can confirm the correctness of their thoughts; they are invited to make people think beyond ideology.

LibCon fails when a thread dissolves into social democrat or middle class orthodoxy. LibCon succeeds when discussing new ideas, how to implement classical liberalism, even Keynes versus the “Austrian economists”.

Returning to the broad left argument: From time to time, Dave Osler posts here simultaneously with his own blog; Dave’s posts (largely) receive comments from “hard left” respondents on his blog and from softies over here. I presume that Dave is something learning from the exercise.

My suggestions: more politeness here, please; examine your own biases (cf Luis and Chris Dillow); avoid tribalism because your tribe is certain to do something embarrassing too; assume that co-respondents are as smart and sensitive as you; if you take a break and still hold the view that your co-respondent is an idiot, hold a mirror to your face, just in case…

@28 DHG: “For reasons of disconnection I think and my old bug bear of anonymity mixed with the problem of without the social constrictions that face to faCe discussion incurs little is achieved.”

I think that this deserves more thought.

Face to face is good in some ways. It is very difficult to shout “Bastard!” when the bastard is two feet away. That’s moderation of behaviour. Discussion about serious arguments, face to face, will be moderated and we will be less inclined to disagree; confirmation biases will apply. It is damned hard to tell somebody that they are talking complete bollocks in conversation; we adopt phrases like, “don’t you think that, contrarily..”.

Internet forums and email mirror the exchange of letters — massively accelerated in speed. In the snail mail world, people have time to think; the post arrives in the morning and the reply will be sent in the afternoon, to be delivered 24 hours after original receipt; you have 6 hours to think before you need to put pen to paper.

In forums where an immediate response is expected, stupidity is delivered. Of which I am guilty of providing. Treat replies as letters and think.

Charlieman:

Left Outside seems to have blogged on this in some detail and I will read it when I’ve time as I think it is a subject of some interest.

I totally agree that harsh words and cruel words would hardly ever occur in a face to face because they are moderated and I think this brings up the crucial point of moderating web behaviour is not censorship as some idiots would have it but a re-balancing of the scales.

I also agree that snail mail brings a more measured response, unlike this instant format and don;t you think when you take some time away from the Internet and come back, the response is mellowed?

I like your comment a lot Cman and will think some more.

About emails and the unintended consequences thereof:

The Bush administration dropped pursuit of Microsoft in the US for anti-trust activities but if anyone digs back in the accessible case papers and commentary, a significant part of the US Department of Justice’s case against Microsoft depended on archived internal corporate emails.

And see this news report about climate change data at the UAE:
http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED28%20Jan%202010%2010%3A05%3A43%3A370

Quote: “In one email, Professor Jones asked a colleague to delete emails relating to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Provisional conclusion: intentions and reflections may be more honestly depicted in emails than in the more considered responses in snail mail.

@ 64

As for pagar, he baited me with a personal insult so I responded in kind.

Daniel. I said that people come to this blog “to feast on the bounty of your knowledge, be mesmerised by the logic of your argument and transfigured by the erudition of your prose.”

If someone were to say that of me, I’d be delighted. You respond by calling me a “massive, massive twat.”

Churlish?

Take a couple of days to reply…….

67. Maltese Cross

I am sure most right-wingers comment here because they believe that the views of many of the left-wingers, if implemented, would be deeply damaging. As there’s no room for false modesty, I may as well add that it is very possible to change people’s political views.

This thread is degenerating into a playground.

I’ve just realised my post probably didn’t help matters. As someone from the Right I come here to get a different political perspective and understand what motivates those on the Left. Not to mention a lot of the posts here are highly informative and engaging.

70. Mike Killingworth

[65] Absolutely.

A few points:

First, I’m not a member of any political party, although I hate the Tories because I disagree with pretty much every single policy of theirs, and their ideology in general.

Second, this site isn’t here to convince voters to join Labour or the Libdems. It’s here to build a left-movement. Let me repeat: it’s not here to convince voters – that’s the job of political parties. I’m not running a political party here.

Lastly, I don’t mind at all dissenting views, expressed politely. I’ve never deleted or banned anyone for posting dissenting comments that are polite.

What I said above was I don’t like people coming here to tell us what we should be publishing or not.

Very fair points.

Is it an ambition of the site to convince readers to adopt a left-leaning agenda in order to build that movement?
or is it here purely for people, who already have a leftist view, to congregate?
and have you had many commentators telling you what to publish? Disagreement and telling someone what they should or shouldn’t do are very different. Personally, I’ve not seen much evidence of the latter.

Sunny,

Is there a line between telling you what to publish (something I hope no-one is doing, as it is your site) and pointing out that publishing something appears unwise (in my case normally because I find the logic in it to be similiar to that favoured by such august institutions as the Daily Mail)? If you are seeking to build a movement I presume it will not be by replicating the small-c conservative right-wing mechanisms that you criticise, but by offering new ideas? I might be wrong, but I can’t see how that would really get anyone (other than the extremists) anywhere.

I’m here for the free booze.

I hope I’m at tomorrow’s do for the free booze, but at £12 I’m not holding my breath.

I will, however, be blogging any menus in evidence.

And I have a blasted train to catch 20 miles away at 6.01am.


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