Blogging is more important than ever


4:58 pm - November 1st 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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If the demise of Liberal Conspiracy marks the end of the ‘amateur blogger’ then I’m the next Pope. I always have one piece of advice for my new students at Kingston University: start blogging.

The media landscape has clearly evolved since 2005, but blogging has only become more powerful and influential. When I launched Liberal Conspiracy in Nov 2007, I was unknown in Westminster; six years later this site was read at the top of the Labour party.

None of this happened because I was well-connected, had worked at a newspaper or had influential friends. It happened only because Liberal Conspiracy ran stories (thanks to tips from many readers) that got noticed. The national media cannot ignore us like they used to. For all its faults the new media landscape is far more meritocratic than old media or the political establishment.

But I had an edge – a good understanding of web programming and technology. Before blogging I used to run messageboards and online magazines that ran on code (HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL) I had written myself. For Liberal Conspiracy and Pickled Politics I developed new designs and WordPress themes myself (with some help), and was able to make changes, experiment and evolve quicker than others who paid for customised designs. I was also very comfortable with, and more aggressive than most bloggers, in using social media to find and promote stories.

Unsurprisingly, my work at Kingston involves teaching digital journalism: teaching web programming and technologies to leverage journalism. There are far more qualified people at Kingston to teach journalism; my focus is is on how to use the internet to take that further. And I’m grateful to them for taking me on (I’ve given a few lectures on the topic at City University too).

Whether amateur (i.e. independent) multi-author publishing is dead wholly depends on how people approach it. Here’s my advice: don’t expect to start an opinion blog and get 100,000 readers a month. The market is over-saturated with opinions on the Guardian, New Statesman, HuffPo and IndyVoices (just on the left). Only the Guardian pays and yet the others have no problems attracting submissions because so many want to make a name for themselves.

Worse, most opinion blogging only talks to the already-converted and changes minds only at the margins. It may be cathartic for some but that’s not enough to attract a lot of visitors regularly.

‘News’ publishing on the other hand has a bright future and I suspect we will see much more of this. But I’d like people to think outside the box.

Firstly, popular ‘news’ doesn’t always have to mean exposing Traditional Britain, or leaking the Coalition Agreement, it can involve finding interesting stories from social media or putting together publicly available info. Our most popular posts this year have been a collection of Tweets (on British Gas and the EDL’s Tommy Robinson). Another example: How one Twitter troll went from abuse to apology in minutes. All these were stories Buzzfeed or HuffPo would (and did) do but we got there quicker and went viral first.

Secondly, the platform has become irrelevant. We need to move away from talking about blogging, and setting up a simple WordPress blog, to thinking about publishing. The traditional advantages of blogging (simple format, popularity through inter-linking, simple set-up) have become largely irrelevant as HuffPost and Buzzfeed have shown. Both developed their own content system, and meanwhile WordPress has become bloated and slow.

My model for Liberal Conspiracy was simple: use fun and interesting news to amass readers and followers; then get them to read policy material and get involved in campaigns.

There is now more opportunity than ever for someone to start another political news site, make it popular, and figure out a business model to earn a living from it. I stopped Liberal Conspiracy because the traditional blogging model has become defunct, not because online publishing is a waste of time and effort. A budding journalist or publisher has no excuse not to use this medium to make a name for themselves. I hope many more will do.

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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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Story Filed Under: Liberal Conspiracy ,Media ,Technology

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Reader comments


1. douglas clark

You are underestimating your own ability Sunny.

I would never, ever, vote for the Labour Party, but I would vote for you.

You might like to look at the statistics for Wings over Scotland, a site I am currently banned from commenting on.

What’s new?

Anyway, it goes from strength to strength and has a comparatively, Scottish-wise, enormous audience.

http://wingsoverscotland.com/that-time-of-the-month/

_________________________________________

He used his authority to crowd-source opinion polls. Y’know, pay for them. Like you could ask too?

Asking straightforward question of the electorate garners straightforward answers. I am fascinated to know that only a 5% swing or so will give us independence from the self centred Westminster elite. Where we go from there is, kind of obviously, down to us.

I would have assumed that you could crowd source your journalism in exactly the same way as Rev Stu. Heck, I’d have funded you! And Rev Stu got money out of me before banning me. It is easy to appear to be one thing, an open forum and then be another. Anyway enough about the Rev Stu.

My point is that he has a model for citizen journalism that ought to pay your wages.

Despite being a particularily nasty man – it is not obvious – he garnered a salary from his fans.

If you open a similar appeal, I would contribute.

Best wishes

douglas clark.

I started blogging to provide (in one place) a series of small examples of all the things I wanted to see, rarely did, in the media around me.
I use the blog posts as a resource to aid when debating on social media or when challenging organisations. Someone arguing weakly? – here is a post about the Heirarchy of Argument. Someone saying that there aren’t really any people on the breadline? – here is a post on exmaples of exactly that. Someone saying Muslims don’t work with wider society? No problem, here are a bunch of examples showing they do.

I also wanted to give practical examples of how someone could challenge organisations / government / companies – and that they generally would respond and open up a dialogue.

I have found blogging to deliver exactly what I wanted on both counts.

Websites are only relevant if those that use them listen to both sides of the argument and debate without selfishness.

This particular website has not gained more users because the regulars are tunneled vision and obnoxious.

One good example : when people speak out about immigration on this website they are immediately branded racist. If people that are English born and bred here voice their concerns they are subjected to abuse and on occasions called outrageous names.

Liberal conspiracy has been it’s own worse enemy in many areas. It had the potential to be better but became irrelevant.

Having said the obvious, there has been some really brilliant, informative and intelligent bloggers on this site.

Blogging is more important than ever : Only if you can share your views without being treated like a piece of faeces by a gang of regulars.

4. Matthew Blott

The LAMP stack isn’t where it’s at these days. Node.js is that hot new thing now.

5. douglas clark

Dear Matthew Blott,

Can you spell that out in a way that I could understand?

I have no idea what a LAMP stack is, nor what Node.js is.

Best wishes

douglas clark

6. the a&e charge nurse

It’s true say to say bloggers only have a marginal influence on juggernauts like globalisation, over-population, environmental vandalism, corporate greed and religious lunacy but it has been great fun listening to those who have documented these phenomena.

We can’t say the bloggers didn’t warn us!

So, was Sally real or not?

“Blogging is more important than ever.”

Absolutely.

Compare the official Treasury and BIS: “Plan for Growth”, published in March 2011, with the reality:

“Britain has to earn its way in the modern world. We have to become much more productive so we can be a leading high tech, highly skilled economy. We must build a new model of economic growth – where instead of borrowing from the rest of the world, we invest and we save and we export. Our economy must become more balanced.” [Plan for Growth]
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/31584/2011budget_growth.pdf

There’s not much of that happening. Britain’s current balance of payment has barely improved despite a 25% depreciation of the Pound. Businss investment is well down — not much sign of business confidence in the government about that. Productivity has been falling. And as for “rebalancing Britain’s economy”, Carney, the newly appointed Governor of the Bank of England has just said:

“When the FT was in its infancy, the assets of UK banks amounted to around 40% of GDP. By the end of last year, that ratio had risen tenfold.

“As we have recently been painfully reminded, a specialisation in financial services carries risks as well as rewards. And those risks will grow, unless we put global banks and markets on a sounder footing. Suppose, for example, that UK-owned banks’ share of global banking activity remains the same and that financial deepening in foreign economies increases in line with historical norms. By 2050, UK banks’ assets could exceed nine times GDP, and that is to say nothing of the potentially rapid growth of foreign banking and shadow banking based in London.

“Some would react to this prospect with horror. They would prefer that the UK financial services industry be slimmed down if not shut down. In the aftermath of the crisis, such sentiments have gone largely unchallenged. But, if organised properly, a vibrant financial sector brings substantial benefits. Today financial services account for a tenth of UK GDP and are the source of over 1 million jobs. . . ” [BoE website, 24 October 2013 - link available]

Not mush aspiration about rebalancing Britain’s economy there. We will have become more dependent on the banking and finacial sectors.

BobB @ 8:

But more blogging is hardly likely to affect any of the problems you mention.

The UK needs a productivity revolution. But that’s hardly likely to happen when – for example – an economics graduate from Brunel spends most of his life to date (b.1977)running an economically illiterate propaganda website while (probably) on benefits, and then leaves his blog to suck on the public sector teat with a part-time role lecturing at Kingston ‘University’.

10. Richard Carey

@ I, Manc

I’d like to think Sally was indeed real, and that due to some of the arguments I patiently advanced to her, she embraced true libertarianism, rather than the fake libertarianism which she so often attacked. This would explain her lack of comments in recent times.

I, manc @ 7 & RC @ 10:

Sally was either sectioned or started taking the right medication.

Tone: “But more blogging is hardly likely to affect any of the problems you mention.”

But Blogging helps to keep a wider public informed about whether Osborne’s austerity programme has been working when the most persistent source of expert and – importantly – numerate criticism has been the lead economics writers in the Financial Times — Martin Wolf, Sam Brittan and Chris Giles.

Much of Britain’s press — the Guardian excepted — has been content to report Osborne claiming how well his own austerity policies have been working out when recovery of Britain’s economy to pre-recession levels has been painfully slow by comparison with recovery in most other G7 economies — Italy excepted — and by historic standards. The inescapable fact is that lost GDP is lost forever.

IMO analysis and open public debate are the important benefits of Blogging, not heaping personal abuse on the head of Sunny – or others who work to run blogs. According to posters on Conservative Home, I am supposed to be a “friend of David Irving” for posting criticisms of Israel there and recalling that arch fraudster, Robert Maxwell, was given a state funeral in Israel.

Another reason why blogging is crucial for maintaining open public debate is that charity status is held to be incompatible with expressing any sentiments deemed “political”.

Mind you, that didn’t prevent the Macmillan Cancer Support charity from recently going to the media to press criticism of the administration of the new Personal Independence Payments by the Department of Work and Pensions: Benefit delays ‘hit hundreds of terminally ill patients’
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24784691

From personal experience in my local neck of the woods, it is claimed that public debate of current issues is deemed to compromise charity status and that is used to stifle debate. At a Patients Liaison meeting, the chairman, a LibDem councillor as well as a GP, ruled me out of order for quoting from the editorial of the British Medical Journal in January 2011:

“What do you call a government that embarks on the biggest upheaval of the NHS in its 63 year history, at breakneck speed, while simultaneously trying to make unprecedented financial savings? The politically correct answer has got to be: mad. . . ”

Evidently, the chairman as a good Liberal, hasn’t read JS Mill. But then he probably regards Mill as a political subversive:

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

I discovered Sally’s identity some time ago: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_old_brit/8412765816/

And Tone, your comments are odious.

Cherub: “And Tone, your comments are odious.”

Absolutely. There are important issues to blog about when so much of Britain’s press is obsessed with celebrity news:

– Why can’t the NHS recruit sufficient nurses in Britain so it has to recruit in Portugal, Spain and other countries?

– “Migrants are filling a fifth of jobs in key industries because of a lack of skilled British graduates, according to a Government-backed report.” [Telegraph 3 November 2013] How come?

– Banking used to be regarded as a respected and trusted profession but not any more. Scarcely a day passes without a news report about some new eye-watering fine being paid by a bank, a shadow bank or a financial trader to a regulator on one side of the Atlantic or the other. On Monday, it’s SAC Capital paying USD 1 billion to US regulators. In Saturday’s FT, the headline was: Forex probe widens to three continents.

– Will it matter if the size of Britain’s banking industry goes up from four times Britain’s GDP to nine times by 2050 as the new Governor of the BoE foresees?

– “Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens says there are ‘some real questions that need to be asked’ after the brutal murder of Bijan Ebrahimi who was burned to death by vigilantes after being wrongly accused of being a paedophile.” [Telegraph 3 November 2013]

– “Tesco is installing face-scanning technology at its petrol stations to target advertisements to individual customers at the till. The technology, made by Lord Sugar’s digital signage company Amscreen, will use a camera to identify a customer’s gender and approximate age. It will then show an advertisement tailored to that demographic.” [BBC website 4 November] Add in face recognition software capability and the till cameras will be able to pickout wanted criminals, suspected terrorists and illegal migrants scheduled for deportation — unless, of course, they are wearing Burkas.

BobB @ 12

“But Blogging helps to keep a wider public informed…”

Quality blogging does; and if you set up your own blog, I would certainly read it. But a certain lecturer at Kingston ‘University’ is encouraging all his students to blog…and more does not mean better (as the history of UK education in the last 70 years shows amply).

“…whether Osborne’s austerity programme has been working when the most persistent source of expert and – importantly – numerate criticism has been the lead economics writers in the Financial Times — Martin Wolf, Sam Brittan and Chris Giles.”

Yes, you have mentioned this before, and I’ve read some of their articles. Unfortunately, there is no way of deciding who is right and who is wrong, as repeatable experiments with identical initial conditions are impossible in economics. So the answer to the question tends to depend on the ideology and the theory held by the economist offering his or her views. (And the FT is pink in more than one sense…)

All the other issues you raise @ 14 are worthy of rational discussion; but I fear they would not have received anything like rational treatment on the (unlamented by me) LC, as you well know given the abuse you have endured from some idiots here.

cherub @ 13:

“And Tone, your comments are odious.”

How, exactly?

Like all leftists, you are trying to claim the moral high ground, while conveniently ignoring what leftists generally do and say. The comments on LC are full of remarks about Tories being mad, psychotic, deranged – even evil (according to Sunny); but you regard that as acceptable. When I suggest that ‘Sally’ was mentally ill, you denounce it as “odious”. Bizarre.

If you were also referring to my comments about Sunny, then please explain why it is acceptable for a graduate born in 1977 (albeit not the sharpest knife in the drawer) to (apparently!) sponge of the rest of us while devoting his time to his blog (and a bit of race-hustling on CiF)? What has Sunny contributed to the GDP of the UK in the 36 years of his existence?

@16. TONE:”If you were also referring to my comments about Sunny, then please explain why it is acceptable for a graduate born in 1977 (albeit not the sharpest knife in the drawer) to (apparently!) sponge of the rest of us while devoting his time to his blog (and a bit of race-hustling on CiF)? What has Sunny contributed to the GDP of the UK in the 36 years of his existence?”

My breath is taken away by the vulgarity of your words.

charlieman @ 17:

“My breath is taken away by the vulgarity of your words.”

Really? So it’s “vulgar” to enquire where Sunny’s funding has come from? How ‘de haut en bas’ of you!

Why not just answer the point, rather than adopting the Guardianista’s sneer?

Meanwhile, all your remark shows is your moral exhibitionism. You are showing off your moral credentials in front of your peers. Displaying your exaggerated moral indignation and your consequent self-admiration make you feel good about yourself.

Tone: “But a certain lecturer at Kingston ‘University’ is encouraging all his students to blog”

No one has a monopoly on truth or insights. JS Mill applies. Blogging has created opportunities for extending open, public debate on topical issues when so much of the press is obsessing with celebrity news to deflect attention from what has been happening to living standards.

“Unfortunately, there is no way of deciding who is right and who is wrong, as repeatable experiments with identical initial conditions are impossible in economics.”

The FT lead economics writers have no motive for deceiving, whereas Osborne has and I certainly back the expert judgement of the FT economists against Osborne, who is only a history graduate.

Besides, we can compare the pace of recovery of the British economy from recession against that in other G7 economies and Britain comes badly out of that comparison: lost GDP is forever lost. Martin Wolf spells out the detail convincingly in: Osborne has now been proved wrong on austerity [FT 26 September 2013]

Those with unbounded faith in the robust conclusions of the so-called experimental sciences may like to reflect on this recent leader in The Economist:

How science goes wrong
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-research-has-changed-world-now-it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong

Evidently, other researchers often have difficulties in replicating the experiments as reported in academic papers publicising the conclusions drawn from the experiments.

They may also like to reflect that there are several non-experimental sciences – such as geology and astronomy – where it is impossible to repeat in laboratory conditions the situations which led to the present. However, that does not prevent explorations for sources of fosile fuels made on the basis of geological assessments.

They may also reflect on the implications of this morning’s news:

Drugs giant Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay more than $2.2bn (£1.4bn) to settle allegations over its marketing techniques, the US justice department has said.

BobB @ 19:

“No one has a monopoly on truth or insights. JS Mill applies.”

Up to a point. But J S Mill himself said that when deciding on the competing merits of pushpin and poetry we should take the view of those who knew both well – ie as he put it, “the wise”. I doubt journalism students from Kingston ‘University’ would be classed as wise.

“The FT lead economics writers have no motive for deceiving, whereas Osborne has and I certainly back the expert judgement of the FT economists…”

I never said the FT had any motive for deceiving. I said that the question of whether the UK economy would have done better cannot be determined one way or another. There are rational arguments and experts on both sides, but these arguments are influenced by the ideological and theoretical allegiances of those who hold them. In the end, we cannot know.

@ 20:

I do not have “unbounded faith” in the experimental sciences. Scientists can be make errors, they can falsify data, they can be biased…But the scientific method soon corrects their flawed data. Economics, however, cannot do repeatable experiments with the same initial conditions. Sure, economists can run their computer models to simulate what might have happened with a different policy or to predict what might happen in the future. Economics is a rational, scientific and worthwhile endeavour; but it has significant limitations and it is not a science in full sense of the word.

“I doubt journalism students from Kingston ‘University’ would be classed as wise.”

Without reading what the students have to say, we won’t know, will we?

Do you recall these verses from Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard?

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.
http://www.thomasgray.org.uk/cgi-bin/display.cgi?text=elcc

@ TONE

You accept without question the diktats of the economic elite. No matter the consequences for the rest of us. Explain why. Or is the why best summed up in the phrase ‘thirty pieces of silver’

You side with the rapers of the planet and our civilisation. Explain why. Or is the why best summed up in what ‘visiting Africa, India and China’ can mean…

You use the propaganda by the rich, for the rich as a justification to sneer at any questions about the blatant injustices perpetrated by the rich worldwide. Explain why. Or is the why best summed up by the title “emperors new clothes’

You talk of moral posturing, where is yours?

Dissident: “You accept without question the diktats of the economic elite.”

You mean the ‘diktats’ of the likes of Osborne, his noisy supporters, and Angela Merkel and hers.

Their critics in the Financial Times have to argue their case to a readership that is mostly well-educated and which tends to be sceptical of ideologically driven special-pleading.

There are a few times when conflicting analysis in economics of current events is of crucial importance to the welfare of most of us and this is one of those times. The lead FT economists have been consistently and persistently critical of Osborne’s austerity policy. FWIW I happen to agree with them.

Along with the Obama administration advisers, Wolfgang Munchau and Martin Wolf are also critical of Angela Merkel’s policy for stabilising the Eurozone.

Germany’s surplus on its current account balance of payments over the last 12 months now amounts to 243pc of Germany’s GDP according to this stats round-up in The Economist:
http://www.economist.com/news/economic-and-financial-indicators/21588880-trade-exchange-rates-budget-balances-and-interest-rates

Consequences flow from that. In the absence of fiscal transfers to current account deficit countries in the Eurozone, the effect of Germany’s enormous trade surplus is to exert a continuing deflationary pressure across the Eurozone economy as well as to the trading partners of the Eurozone in other countries. Try Martin Wolf in Wednesday’s FT on: Germany is a weight on the world

The really worrying aspect is that we were warned about this prospect in a paper by the late Rudi Dornbusch on: Euro fantasies, in Foreign Affairs for September 1996. Rudi Dornbusch was born a German national who went on to become professor of international economics at the MIT.

In a Spectator interview with Nicholas Ridley on 14 July 1990, he described the proposed Economic and Monetary Union in Europe (EMU) as “a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe”. He was forced to resign as DTI minister in Mrs T’s government as a consequence of the resulting outcry in Parliament. BTW guess who were making the most noise at that time . .

Try also Martin Feldstein: EMU and international conflict, from Foreign Affairs November 1997, reposted on the National Bureau of Economic Research: website
http://www.nber.org/feldstein/fa1197.html

Speaking about “economic elites”, there are few more worthy of that description than Rudi Dornbusch, Martin Feldstein and the lead economics writers in the FT

And more from another in the ‘economics elite’ – Jonathan Portes, director of the NIESR: in January 2013

“The continued dismal performance of the UK economy is entirely consistent with the predictions of those of us who have argued consistently for the last two years that premature fiscal consolidation would be severely contractionary in the short term, and risked doing significant long-term economic and social damage. As has been widely reported, this analysis is now generally shared by most serious economists, including most notably the Chief Economist of the IMF, Olivier Blanchard, probably the most distinguished empirical macroeconomist working on policy issues at present. . . .
http://niesr.ac.uk/blog/austerity-delusion#.UnpEABpFCDY

BobB:

You seem to have forgotten the 364 eminent economists who signed a rather foolish letter back 1981…only to be proved wrong within days.

The ‘mute inglorious Milton’ notion is a fallacy and quite untestable. What the blogosphere needs is quality rather than quantity.

Tone: “You seem to have forgotten the 364 eminent economists who signed a rather foolish letter back 1981…only to be proved wrong within days.”

Not so. Then as now, the crunch issue was whether GDP was unnecessarily lost as the result of bad policy decisions. You seem to have forgotten that the Thatcher government in the autumn of 1985 formally abandoned the government’s Medium Term Financial Strategy – popularly called ‘”monetarism” – if that strategy had been so successul.

This was the IMF’s eventual illuminating obituary on ‘monetarism’, delivered in World Economic Outlook, October 1996, p.106:

” …instability of monetary demand, especially in the context of supply shocks and declines in potential output growth, complicated the task of monetary authorities. As a result, during the 1980s most central banks – with some notable exceptions – either abandoned or downplayed the role of monetary targets.”

It wasn’t until the final quarter of 1995 that Britain’s standardised (ILO) unemployment rate came in below the standardised unemployment rates of France, Germany and Italy.

Milton Friedman, the founding father of the monetarist creed, later recanted in an interview with the Financial Times:

‘The use of quantity of money as a target has not been a success.’ He added: ‘I’m not sure I would as of today push it as hard as I once did.’ [FT, 7 June 2003].
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2003/jun/22/comment.economicpolicy

On his retirement as economics professor at Chicago University, Milton Friedman moved to take up residence in San Francisco, which by a wide consensus is judged to be the most liberal minded city in America. That was a curious move.

Btw the lead signature of the 364 eminent economists who signed that petition was Alec Cairncross, who had been appointed to the post of Chief Economic Adviser in HM Treasury in 1961 by the Conservative government of those times.

Readers my like to know of this academic text by Sir Alec Cairncross on: The British Economy Since 1945 – Economic Policy and Performance 1945-1995 (Wiley-Blackwell P/B 2nd.ed 1995)
http://www.amazon.com/British-Economy-Since-1945-Performance/dp/0631199616/ref=la_B001HCS1GU_1_1/176-2770364-3732668?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383769314&sr=1-1

For any who would like to read the account of Milton Friedman’s recantation of monetarism, this links to a copy of the report of the lunch in the FT on 6 June 2003:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/937366/posts

Blogging and creating a space for discussions is all very well, but not much good if you are only willing to discuss things with the already converted.
I’d start a blog of my own if I knew how to do it and thought that it wouldn’t attract heaps of abuse and stupid people (like the kind of commentators they have over on the Harry’s Place website). There they are pro-Israel fundamentalists who call people who disagree with them ”Jew haters” – and on LC people tend to not engage with people who are not true believers of the modern left activist movement tactics …. like the protesters I caught a glimpse of the other night on Westminster Bridge as I was driving past in my van.
The police were loving it I bet. All that overtime. There were LOADS of police up there.
And all for this:

The Million Mask March – muppets

Sunny just refused to even give a view like that the time of day. It’s ‘beneath contempt and trolling’ I’d imagine he’d say. I agree with it though. I cant stand the sight of those stupid Guy Fawkes masks.

But that was LCs great weakness in my opinion.
The refusal to engage with any ideas outside of the mainstream left consensus. That became fundamentalism I think.

IMO one outstanding feature of LC is (?was) the space extended to many posters who are not party to declared “leftism” and who disagreed – often fundamentally – with the message in thread headers or continued to plead their special benighted cause.

I have in mind especially the admitted bankers who used to post here to claim they were all wilfully misunderstood professionals who constantly cared about the welfare of mankind.

My own brief experience of posting in the Conservative Home forum showed intolerance there of any poster critical of Conservate tenets and a tendency to censor out messages critical of leading Conservatives. It was plain that open public debate wasn’t at all welcome.

@18. TONE: “Really? So it’s “vulgar” to enquire where Sunny’s funding has come from? How ‘de haut en bas’ of you!”

Sunny’s blogs have been personal projects. There are no suggestions of ‘moscow gold’ or clever promotion of any organisation — and I note that Sunny’s Labour Party membership has not prohibited contributions from others. LC was not funded by charitable organisations or by government, aside from adverts placed on the site by agencies.

I do not know whether the bank of mum and dad have funded Sunny. Perhaps a bequest or a big win on the horses at Doncaster sufficed? The thing is, that it is none of my business.

Which is why your query is vulgar.

“Why not just answer the point, rather than adopting the Guardianista’s sneer?”

There is no single point. I agree that sneering about Sally is/was wrong; you would need to be almost perfect to ignore all of her comments. But you made an awful lot more points.

“Meanwhile, all your remark shows is your moral exhibitionism. You are showing off your moral credentials in front of your peers.”

Way back @17, I delivered a sentence, criticising you. It was about you and your implied attitudes. I wrote about you.

I did not care about what people thought about me. I did not feel moral indignation or admiration. I was being myself.

@ Bob B

“You mean the ‘diktats’ of the likes of Osborne, his noisy supporters, and Angela Merkel and hers.”

It’s hard to imagine either of them been anything other than puppets – especially Gideon. He is barely capable of doing 2+2=5 ;)

Charlieman

Agreed that Greece shouldn’t be in the Eurozone. It was only let in because the country of Plato couldn’t be left out: evidently Socrates and Aristotle didn’t count.

The trouble is that the Greek economy isn’t the only problem. A fundamental disequilibrium will continue in the Eurozone without fiscal transfers from surplus trading countries to deficit traders – as happens in the US and Britain. In Britain, the fiscal surplus generated by the London and SE regions offsets the fiscal deficits of other regions.

With monetary unions, participating member states give up monetary autonomy (their central banks can’t set interest rates to suit national conditions – hence the property-price bubbles in Ireland and Spain) and member states can’t change the foreign exchange rates of their national currencies to restore lost competitiveness – the only policy option is the socially painful process of depressing national prices and wages by continuing fiscal austerity: so-called ‘internal devaluation’.

Germany believes its massive trading surplus is the result of super-cometitiveness without recognising the policy implications for deficit traders, the problems of which are due to ‘fiscal indiscipline’ according to the Germany analysis. Not so. Spain’s socialist government was more fiscally disciplined than Germany’s. Spain’s problems were a property-price bubble leading to failing banks when the bubble burst.

Germany’s economy is large and diverse. It is much easier to shift resources there from contracting to expanding sectors than it is for smaller, much less diverse economies hugely dependent on a few specialist sectors.

It’s a mistake for us to think this is only their problem and we can forget about it. With about half Britain’s exports going to the Eurozone, the consequences of depression there impact here.

This is a classic case of where flawed economic analysis leads on to disaster. I’m not claiming a unique personal insight – I’m just paraphrasing the assessments of other mainstream economists, notably in the FT. Would that German policy makers read standard texts like: De Grauwe – The Economics of Monetary Union (OUP, 9th ed. 2012). There is a PPT slide presentation for the 9th edition on the internet. Btw beware of attempts to pass off the 8th edition of 2009 as the latest book edition.

Out of curiosity, will the Netroots conference be back in 2014?

It was one of the highlights of my year as it proved to be very helpful. It was also great to be surrounded by internet/social media geeks for a day.

Why we need blogging – in the press today:

‘Don’t listen to Labour on economy’, says Nick Clegg
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24916027

We don’t need Red Ed or the leftist blogs to tell about Britain’s economy. For impartial, non-partisan assessments of what’s been happening, try the Financial Times and The Economist instead.

I can easily post relevant links to commentaries that Clegg obviously hopes we haven’t read and which ought to be publicised. And there is Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet secretary, as well, in the Telegraph, saying we will be having austerity for 20 years.

Some insights from The Economist last Saturday:

“The state grew ceaselessly, even through recessions and the leadership of Margaret Thatcher. Between 1948 and 2009 spending on education, health and social security rose by an average of 4.5% a year in real terms. . . . ”

“By the middle of the next parliament almost the entire surge in spending that occurred under Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will have been reversed. The health and schoolteaching budgets have been protected, but only in nominal terms: the NHS must still treat more people with less money. Everything else has been slashed.”

“You can quibble with the details. It was foolish to make such deep cuts in spending on infrastructure, which helps the country run better. Welfare for young adults is being cut more than welfare for the old largely because of crude politics: the old are more likely to vote. And the coalition’s bigger goal, of bringing down the deficit, is still miles away. According to the ‘plan A’ laid down in 2010 by George Osborne, the then new chancellor of the exchequer, Britain was to borrow £60 billion in the current fiscal year. The outturn may be almost double that.”
http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21589235-fingers-crossed-country-will-choose-wisely-great-britain-or-little-england

Dissident @ 23:

“You accept without question the diktats of the economic elite. No matter the consequences for the rest of us. Explain why. Or is the why best summed up in the phrase ‘thirty pieces of silver’

You side with the rapers of the planet and our civilisation. Explain why. Or is the why best summed up in what ‘visiting Africa, India and China’ can mean…

You use the propaganda by the rich, for the rich as a justification to sneer at any questions about the blatant injustices perpetrated by the rich worldwide. Explain why. Or is the why best summed up by the title “emperors new clothes’

You talk of moral posturing, where is yours?”

Dissident, in your incontinent fury, I suspect you are projecting your own dissatisfaction/disillusionment/disappointment onto the world and then blaming the “system” for them. Things can only be changed for the better gradually – by discussion, by compromise and by judicious (and minimal) regulation. If you believe in ‘revolution’, see a therapist…

However, to answer your points (such as I can discern them):

1. I do not “accept without question the diktats of the economic elite”.

There are few (if any) diktats from “the economic elite” (who are not a homogenous group); nor would I accept them if there were. (I imagine there would be many “diktats” under your particular brand of incoherent ‘eco-socialism’.) The fact remains that an increasingly liberalised capitalism has brought prosperity to millions. The UN calculates that worldwide average per capita incomes have risen 70% since 1980, (even after adjusting for inflation and PPP)! Some developing economies have performed better than others, but the direction overall has been upward. Things are getting better for the world’s poor; and free-market capitalism is the greatest poverty-reducing engine in human history! Sure, it’s not ideal: many suffer appallingly (as they did before liberal capitalism) – but progress is being made at an astonishing rate, and any known version of socialism or ‘melon-ism’ (green outside, red inside)would reverse the trend and make us all miserable.)

2. You suggest that my defence of free-market capitalism might be because I have accepted ‘thirty pieces of silver’.

This is pathetically ‘ad hominem’! You can’t answer my points, so you impute motives to me. FYI, I am a retired charity manager, living on a very modest income.

BobB @ 28:

“Not so. Then as now, the crunch issue was whether GDP was unnecessarily lost as the result of bad policy decisions.”

And my point remains the same, too: we simply cannot know, one way or the other, how much GDP was or was not lost as a result of a particular policy decision. What we do know is that economies tend to re-bound vigorously after austerity…

Economics simply can’t answer such questions, as it can’t re-run experiments. That said, it is a rational and broadly scientific discipline — though commitment to ‘Keynesian-ism’ or ‘monetarism’ (and all the gradations in-between) can distort an economist’s predictions.

charlieman @ 33:

“The thing is, that it is none of my business. Which is why your query is vulgar.”

Uh???

But Sunny – and many of those posting here – have spent much time on this site denouncing people precisely because of the source of their funding…So why should it be sooooooo “vulgar” to enquire after Sunny’s and LC’s funding over the few years of its existence?

Sunny is into his mid-30s and is an economics graduate. He is the child of immigrants.Is it “vulgar”, or sociologically irrelvant, to ask whether he has had made many significant contribution to GDP? As far as I can see, Sunny is a parasite…

@41. TONE
‘charlieman @ 33:

“The thing is, that it is none of my business. Which is why your query is vulgar.”

Uh???’

You have contracted and misrepresented my words; you unnecessarily joined two paragraphs.

The sentence “The thing is, that it is none of my business.” concluded a paragraph about where Sunny might find his money to blog.

The second sentence “Which is why your query is vulgar.” finished an argument about ethical funding of political projects.

Had Sunny been given a grant or whatever to fund his blog, it would have been pertinent to ask how the money was spent. That is not the case.

“Sunny is into his mid-30s and is an economics graduate. He is the child of immigrants.Is it “vulgar”, or sociologically irrelvant, to ask whether he has had made many significant contribution to GDP? As far as I can see, Sunny is a parasite…”

You are not stupid, TONE, but you don’t half act daft. You know how to argue for the sake of argument, but not how to construct.

“He [Sunny] is the child of immigrants.” What is the relevance? How did you use this revelation to make us all think?

Tone

“And my point remains the same, too: we simply cannot know, one way or the other, how much GDP was or was not lost as a result of a particular policy decision. ”

The fact is that the GDP of Britain’s economy has still not got back to where it was in 2008Q1, after 5½ years, and average real disposable incomes are back at the level of 2004. According to The Economist, almost all the new jobs created since the crisis have been created in the London, SE and East regions with few elsewhere. Business investment is in the doldrums on ONS figures – which doesn’t indicate much business confidence in the government – and there has been virtually no improvement in Britain’s international trade account despite a 25pc depreciation in the value of the Pound since 2007.

To claim that Britain’s economy is doing well and that we shouldn’t be listening to Ed Miliband, is as laughable as it is unbelievable to any who choose to look at the data.

The prudent course for the curious and open-minded is to follow the assessments on Britain’s economy in the Financial Times and The Economist and by the NIESR, which are non-partisan sources as well as technically competent, to put it mildly. Those sources are widely followed by senior business executives, academia and the upper divisions of the public sector. Their continuing credibility for their readership depends on calling it accurately.

This is nearer the truth than claiming Britain’s economy is performing strongly and is well on the road to recovery:

The economy is “a long way” from normality, the Bank of England’s Paul Fisher has warned, a day after the Bank raised its economic growth forecast.

Speaking on Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money, the Bank’s director of markets also said the timing of an interest rates rise was “extremely uncertain”.

On Wednesday, the Bank raised its growth forecast for this year from 1.4% to 1.6%, and 2014 from 2.5% to 2.8%.

It also said the unemployment rate could fall to 7% as early as next year. [BBC website 14 November 2013]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24937023

Comment in the FT dated 2 September 2013:

“As things stand the consumer is set to come out of the recession with even more debt than it had going into it, storing up trouble for the future”

It doesn’t upset me if internet search engines don’t find child porn sites – a continunig lead item in today’s BBC news bulletins – as I’m among the great majority with no interest in child porn.

What worries me is that objective reports on the state of Britain’s economy in the Financial Times and The Economist or by the NIESR are hidden behind steep subscription barriers. Try and find out just how many new jobs are part-time when full-time jobs are wanted.

America is known as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore
His protection and favor.”
– George Washington –

I want my children to live in a country that they know is whole. The direction this current administration ( overall White House, Senate, Congress) is going is
despicable. We don’t elect leaders to act like pre-pubescent children, they are the representation of the population our great nation.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
– John Adams –

Our society has become so far removed from what this great nation once was. We need to readdress the moral foundation of our society as a whole, parents, children
and all whole call this great nation home.

As for congress, the senate, and our commander in chief. I implore you to look past the minor differences is your policies, and look at the bigger picture. There
should not be any more belittling personal attacks, lets work together like those who came before us and started this great nation.

The party lines should be erased, instead using the business model to strive for a successful economy and the ability for all citizens to walk down the street
proud of the nation in which they reside.

“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
– Benjamin Franklin –

The next quote is from the Duck Dynasty creator Phil Robertson, regardless of your religious beliefs or your political stance this is great thinking.

“Our founding fathers started this country and built it on God and His Word, and this country sure would be a better place to live and raise our children if we
still followed their ideals and beliefs.”

There are many different races, colors, and creeds throughout our great nation, lets come together as one and show the world we are still powerful and will weather
this storm.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Put aside the petty bickering and man up politicians, there is no time like the present to stop the meaningless circular activity that have caused no budget to
be passed for a great while. Can we please stop the bleeding, and get this society back to the basics that bred a great nation?

Thanks for your time.

Following the French revolution, Robespierre declared that he wanted to create the Virtuous Society. By definition, only those with evil intent could possibly disagree and so a Reign of Terror was instituted (5 September 1793 – 28 July 1794) to identify and exterminate opposition to a state of virtue. But those with nothing to hide had nothing to fear.

46

The virtuous society being the fidelity to liberty, amazing how many opponents of Robespierres’ views became victims of the white death, all in the name of liberty!

That should have read ‘white terror’.

Revolutions and civil wars usually progress to killing their own over ideological differences.

It happened in Spain’s civil war and it is happening now in Syria. In Germany, after the Nazi takeover in 1933, there was the Night of the Long Knives between 30 June 1934 and 2 July 1934. As for the Soviet revolution, there were the Moscow Purge Trials 1936-38 and Stalin had Trotsky assassinated in August 1940.

49

Although the examples you give do tend to uphold the view that ideological differences can lead to mass killing and in-fighting when revolution takes place, I’m not sure that it is an inevitable consequence. The industrial revolution proceeded in a fairly non-violent manner (although there was some minor unrest) but this was because of the evolutionary nature of the social and political changes. Compare the Russian and French revolution where there was little common ground between the absolute monarchy and the liberal/socialist goals of said revolutions.

50

“The industrial revolution proceeded in a fairly non-violent manner (although there was some minor unrest) but this was because of the evolutionary nature of the social and political changes.”

The “industrial revolution” was an extended process of industrialisation, not a political revolution and had little immediate impact on the political structures or the processes of governance.

The stream of factory acts, starting in 1809, show a dawning realisation in Parliament that laissez-faire free markets could lead to unacceptable exploitation of workers and the Commons finally managed to push through, against strong resistance from the Lords, a modicum of franchise reform with the Reform Act of 1832 – subsequent franchise reforms were not until 1867 and 1884: secret ballots were introduced in 1872. Slavery in the British Empire was abolished in 1833, the year William Wilberforce died. The Civil Service was not substantially reformed until the Northcote-Trevelyan Reforms of the 1850s.

There were manifestations of industrial unrest such as the Luddite protests of machine smashing 1811-17, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 in Manchester, the Power-loom riots 1826 in Lancashire, the Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834 in Dorset and more with the Chartist movement of 1838-48. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 introduced tough new eligibility tests for assistance to the poor and needy. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 signalled the end of the dominant power of the landed aristocracy.

But you are right about the process of change being evolutionary, not revolutionary. As mentioned before, in his preface to the English edition of Marx’s Capital in 1884, Engels says that Karl Marx came to believe that in England the “inevitable” social revolution could be accomplished through Parliament. Marxism never had strong roots in the British labour movement.

51

I agree with the bulk of your post but would not agree with your analysis of what the industrial revolution was. It was a period of both rapid social and political change and fits the description of ‘revolution’, the period of total change (agreed by most historians) took around one hundred years.

IMO, Marx’s analysis (historical materialism) had it about right.

52

There was certainly rapid social change during the 19th century. Britain’s population trebled over the century. Towns like Manchester almost doubled and doubled again, as I recall the stats. By the mid century, half Britain’s population was living in urban areas and the consensus of historians is that by then average real wages in Britain were higher than elsewhere in Europe.

In 1848, there wasn’t a revolution, a series of which had afflicted much of mainland Europe and which resulted in Marx and family being forced to flee and seek asylum in Britain – see the Blue Plaque on the Quo Vadis Restaurant in Dean Street, Soho. Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, also sought asylum here and went to live in Brighton. Average life expectancy at birth increased from about 40 years at the beginning of the century to about 50 years by the end. But prior to the Slump of the 1930s, older history books dubbed the period 1873-96 as the “Great Depression”.

Because of the battles of Trafalgar (1805) and Waterloo (1815), Britain had become the superpower of the century through naval supremacy. We will have to disagree about the pace of political change. True enough, the civil disabilities of Catholics were removed by the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 but extending that to Jews in Britain was politically very protracted – see the Wikipedia entry for: Emcipation of Jews in the UK. The power of the House of Lords in Parliament wasn’t limited until the Parliament Act of 1911. The franchise wasn’t extended to cover the whole adult population of 21 and older, including women, until 1928, in time for the general election of 1929.

One credible retort to strictures about the horrors of the reign of terror following the French revolution of 1789 is to compare the extent of capital punishment in Britain:

“Some thirty-five thousand people were condemned to death in England and Wales between 1770 and 1830, and seven thousand were ultimately executed, the majority convicted of crimes such as burglary, horse theft, or forgery. Mostly poor trades people, these terrified men and women would suffer excruciating death before large and excited crowds.” – from intro for Gatrell: The Hanging Tree (OUP).

“Sir Samuel Romilly, speaking to the House of Commons on capital punishment in 1810, declared that ‘[there is] no country on the face of the earth in which there [have] been so many different offences according to law to be punished with death as in England.’ Known as the ‘Bloody Code’, at its height the criminal law included some 220 crimes punishable by death, including ‘being in the company of Gypsies for one month’, ‘strong evidence of malice in a child aged 7–14 years of age’ and ‘blacking the face or using a disguise whilst committing a crime’.”

“The Punishment of Death, etc. Act 1832 reduced the number of capital crimes by two-thirds. The death penalty was abolished for counterfeiting and almost all forms of forgery in the same year. Gibbeting was abolished in 1832 and hanging in chains was abolished in 1834. In 1861, several acts of Parliament (24 & 25 Vict; c. 94 to c. 100) further reduced the number of civilian capital crimes to five: murder, treason, espionage, arson in royal dockyards, and piracy with violence; there were other offences under military law.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_United_Kingdom

‘Free market capitalism’ is certainly coming to an end when Osborne introduces new regulations to cap Payday lenders:

“Payday loans cap: George Osborne caves in following intervention led by Archbishop of” [Independent 25 November 2013]

And with this:

“George Osborne offers Bank of England boss Mark Carney new power over banks’ capital” [London Evening Standard 26 November 2013]

What’s more, the Lords has just voted in favour of introducing a licensing system for senior bankers:

“The government has been defeated in the House of Lords over its plans for reforming the banking system.

“A Labour amendment to the Financial Services Bill, which would introduce a licensing system for senior bankers, was passed by five votes.” [BBC website 26 November 2013]

55. douglas clark

I am not at all clear when this site will be officially declared dead.

Perhaps Sunny’s declaration:

“This site will become an occasionally updated personal blog, with the odd guest-post”…

keeps hope alive.

Kind of hoping Rumbold get’s a gig.

Can I suggest to the b’s that just keeping posting will not alter anything?

It won’t.

Sunny does not bluff. The most you can expect is what he offered.

Anyway, the tumbleweed blows. The site is dead.

I think we are entitled to wonder what new politics Sunny has embraced, because this was Labour Central. In a good way.

I shall keep looking for updates, perhaps monthly or if that fails half yearly, because blogging is in Mr Hundal’s blood.

But do not expect him to say what he said before. He evolves and usually in a very reasonable and perspicacious way.

Perhaps he is now a PPC? And all of this is an embarrassment? It shouldn’t be, but there are enemies out there.

Who knows?

I shall come back in a month or so to see whether you two are still here.

Best wishes

douglas clark.

In my experience of online debating – which dates back to December 1995 – there are many who want to shut down open debates: Sunny’s Liberal Conspiracy was a very welcome exception. All sorts used to drop in here to post a thought.

C. 2000, I was pronounced insane elsewhere online for posting that it was not a good idea for Britain to join the Eurozone. I came to that position not because of some special personal genius but after reading academic papers by Rudi Dornbusch on “Euro fantasies” in Foreign Affairs (1996) and by Martin Feldstein, professor of economics at Harvard: “EMU and international conflict” (Foreign Affairs, 1997)

To most Americans, European economic and monetary union seems like an obscure financial undertaking of no relevance to the United States. That perception is far from correct. If EMU does come into existence, as now seems increasingly likely, it will change the political character of Europe in ways that could lead to conflicts in Europe and confrontations with the United States.
http://www.nber.org/feldstein/fa1197.html

The problem was that Euro fanatics, like Michael Heseltine, Kenneth Clarke, Tony Blair, Patricia Hewitt, and Christopher Huhne, didn’t want to know. I fully admit that I have a regular record of persistent dissent: I was also opposed to Britain invading Iraq in March 2003 and thought that George W Bush made a lousy US President.


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