'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Fellow Bloggers: you don't think we're wasting our time do you?

Lib Dem Voice asked the question 'who do you think are the most effective non MPs at promoting the party?' and the results are out.

It's an interesting and eclectic mix and it's hard to argue with any of the names on it.

What's more interesting who isn't on the list. Any bloggers.

Now, I'm slightly exaggerating for effect as both Mark Pack and Stephen Tall figure. But I wouldn't class them as bloggers, given they run Lib Dem Voice, just as I wouldn't call Tim Montgomerie (Conservative Home) a blogger either.

But where was Caron Lindsay, Nick Thornsby, Richard Flowers, Jonathan Calder et al? Nary a mention.

Now, hands up. I didn't nominate any bloggers myself. Which says quite a lot in terms of 'top of mindness' of the blogging fraternity.

It's also probably true to say that the blogging effect works more as a sum of the whole than the parts. And perhaps we talk more to an internal audience than an external one.

We also are probably more critical of the party than the general media comment you see which would disincline members to vote for us in a survey like this. I noticed this tweet after the Golden Dozen was published on Sunday...

But I am also reminded that when I asked Nick Clegg last year if he read blogs, he (gently) told me no, he didn't have the time.

At the very least - the results of the LDV survey say to the Lib Dem blogging fraternity (of which I am proud to be a part) 'must ty harder'.

Will do.


  1. I'm not entirely surprised, partly for the reasons you identify. But also because much blogging is reactive. It is commenting/interpreting/speculating on events/developments occurring/an agenda being set elsewhere. That sort of post is largely talking amongst ourselves. Fewer blogposts/bloggers are seeking to set an agenda or even really to engage with the substance of policy.

    My experience is (evidently!) the only one I know in detail, but drawing on that I would say that the best way to attract a libdem audience of the type that would get you into the LDV Golden Dozen would be precisely to post something relatively inward-looking focusing on some aspect of internal party/coalition politics/factionalism. And those readers are, presumably, the people answering the LDV survey.

    You're much less likely to get hits via the LD aggregator on something that is outward looking or focuses on policy substance. The hits on the posts dealing with the substance of policy come via different routes (fb, twitter RTs, etc) and are probably read by different people.

    But maybe that's just me.

  2. No, I'm sure you're right. For example - I suspect this post will get quite a lot of hits from the aggregator and few from elsewhere, for the very reasons you describe (I may be wrong). It does therefore ask the question what is the role of Lib Dem orientated blogs - are we a type of House of Lords, revising and commenting on other ideas, and hopefully making them better (and more Liberal), while the more high profile other routes are more akin to The Commons, blazing the trail?

  3. I don't think there is a point to blogging; it's just a platform for people to discuss ideas and argue about stuff. The list consists of ex-MP's, MEPs, Lords, AM's, Mayoral Candidates, etc, and the 2 people that published the list.

    People that have more public exposure are perceived to be effective promoters. This isn't a great surprise; most of them are doing it as a full-time paid career. You could turn it round and say that with membership, polling and morale as low as it is, these people are doing a terrible job!

  4. Yes, you're right, the mainstream media has a much higher profile than any blog - but i am still a bit surprised that on a web based survey, bloggers didn't feature at all. keeps us all in our place.

  5. Interesting post Richard.

    I voted for Mark but would agree that he would not be described primarily as a blogger. I would also agree that the internal and secondary/retrospective bias of many of the posts is a drawback, but the critical narrative of many blogs may not chime with the more "passive" membership as much as bloggers think. That is not to say that they are leaping through hoops daily re the coalition but readers may want a bit more light rather than gloom!

    Having only blogged for 6 months the local stories always get the highest readership so I tend to major on those when I can, which would be the case for many I would guess. However I have also appeared on the Golden Dozen a couple of times, both times for positive pro party posts, once for an anti Labour story and once for an anti Green one. I am also lucky to be part of a local party which has an extreme range of views from serious Liberal Left to Blue Lib (if there is such a thing) - great for blogs as there will always be a debate!

    1. Not sure I dare ask how you would describe me...!

      I suspect people (very kindly!) giving my name were thinking of things such as my media appearances or the infographic (http://www.markpack.org.uk/libdem-infographic/).

      Personally, I'd count them both as a natural extension and evolution of my blogging; i.e. they happen because of my blogging even though they are not blogging.

  6. The passive membership is an interesting group. I'm often struck that of the 1200 members on the LDV thread, only 500 or so tend to reply to these surveys - suggesting a minority of members are happy not to have their voice heard. I wonder if this reflects a wider 'happiness' in the membership than all these surveys suggest?

    1. Worth bearing in mind that 500 out of 1,200 is a pretty high response rate, especially for something that requires several minutes and some thought to complete.

  7. Oh yes, it's extraordinarily high, don't get me wrong. But there are still a lot of folk who decide they don't want to express an opinion but are interested enough in the party to be on the mailing list.