Thursday, September 04, 2008

The 51st Blog

Iain Dale has today finally published the results of his annual blog popularity poll ahead of the publication of the full 2008 Guide to Political Blogging tomorrow.

Many thanks for all those who voted for me, but as anticipated I have fallen some way down the list from 10th in 2006 and 18th last year to 51st this time.

Finishing so tantalisingly close to the Top 50 has made me slightly regret not voting for myself, but I can have no real complaints.

This blog has moved much more in the direction of becoming a personal diary over the past year, and although I knew all along that this would cost me traffic, it has been entirely deliberate on my part.

In the longer-run, the blog is not in the business of becoming a money-making venture, nor a one-man instant punditry factory. It is, and can only ever be, no more than a reflection of whatever enthuses me enough to write about it.

At one time, that was primarily politics. Nowadays it's much more a mixture of politics, music, telly, journalism, and whatever's going on in my home and family life.

Ultimately, the blog will stand or fall on the quality of its writing, and in this regard I do have some plans for how the blog may develop over the next 12 months.

But what it won't be doing is going back to providing near-instant commentary on breaking political news, as it once did. There are others who are now far better resourced to do that sort of thing - including a growing number of people in the MSM who are actually paid to do so.

As to the rest of the list, I think the evident right-wing bias does bear out some of the fears expressed by the likes of Sunny Hundal and Tim Ireland that it would not be entirely representative, although to be fair to Iain Dale, he has never claimed it would be.

Right-wing blogs predictably dominate. Of the Top 10, only Political Betting at No 5 could genuinely claim to be non-aligned, and even the two highest-placed media blogs, Coffee House (7) and Ben Brogan (10) are right-leaning. The highest left-of-centre blog, Tom Harris, comes in at 13.

In addition several of the blogs up there are acquired tastes whose appeal does not generally spread beyond the right - for instance Burning Our Money, John Redwood, EU Referendum and Daniel Hannan, all of which make the Top 20.

A scientifically balanced sample would surely have placed the indispensible Political Betting higher than No 5 and probably at least one or two left-of-centre blogs in the Top 10

The thing that most interested me about the survey was the fact that of the left-of-centre blogs that did best, four were all newcomers - namely Tom Harris, Hopi Sen, Liberal Conspiracy and Sadie's Tavern.

While they all headed straight into the Top 40, longer-established names such as Recess Monkey, Tom Watson, Labour Home, Bob Piper and myself all found ourselves dropping down the list - to say nothing of Rupa Huq, Kerron Cross and Mars Hill who dropped out of the Top 100 altogether.

There must be something in that. People are clearly looking for something fresh from the left blogosphere, and this year at least, the older, more established blogs weren't able to provide that - a bit like the government really.

Maybe next year we will display greater resilience and teach these arrivistes a thing or two.

I was also surprised that some "big media" blogs didn't do better given the mainstream media's increasing attempts to appropriate the blogging medium over the past 12 months.

Spectator Coffee House and Ben Brogan both deservedly make the Top 10, but the Telegraph's Three Line Whip places no higher than 19th, the BBC's Nick Robinson slumps from 8th to 28th, and The Times' excellent Red Box blog comes in at 98th, which is just plain silly.

You can read my more detailed thoughts on the state of the MSM blogosphere in the Guide itself, published tomorrow.

But without further ado, here is the full, colour-coded list of blogs that were rated better than this one.

1. (2) Guido Fawkes
2. (1) Iain Dale
3. (4) Conservative Home
4. (3) Dizzy Thinks
5. (-) Political Betting
6. (-) Devil's Kitchen
7. (9) Spectator Coffee House
8. (12) Burning our Money
9. (42) John Redwood
10. (14) Ben Brogan
11. (20) EU Referendum
12. (15) Tim Worstall
13. (-) Tom Harris MP
14. (13) Archbishop Cranmer
15. (54) LibDem Voice
16. (16) Mr Eugenides
17. (-) Hopi Sen
18. (85) Daniel Hannan MEP
19. (-) Three Line Whip
20. (70) Stumbling & Mumbling
21. (35) Donal Blaney
22. (128) Boulton & Co
23. (-) Liberal Conspiracy
24. (8) Nick Robinson
25. (-) People's Republic of Mortimer
26. (11) Recess Monkey
27. (56) Adam Smith Institute
28. (27) Comment Central
29. (72) Luke Akehurst
30. (47) Waendel Journal
31. (38) LabourHome
32. (30) Ministry of Truth
33. (22) Tom Watson MP
34. (33) Nadine Dorries
35. (46) Dave's Part
36. (-) Letters from a Tory
37. (17) Norfolk Blogger
38. (-) Shane Greer
39. (-) Sadie's Tavern
40. (45) Samizdata
41. (32) Slugger O'Toole
42. (111) A Very British Dude
43. (21) Harry's Place
44. (-) SNP Tactical Voting
45. (61) Quaequam Blog
46. (104) UK Polling Report
47. (182) Socialist Unity
48. (59) Daily Referendum
49. (53) Liberal England
50. (172) Lynne Featherstone MP

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RainbowDuke said...

I still enjoy your blog, I admit that I was a fan of the old politico style - your blog was a great left-wing Labour contrast to the all dominant Iain Dale. The readership you catered for is now in a slightly better position for choice with the likes of Liberal Conspiracy doing a sterling job, but your blog is always amongst my readings - and there can't be many 18 year olds who say that. Your political musings are a good reason why I am tempted to start an "inexperienced yoof" political blog of my own.
Take Care :)

David Gladwin said...

Do it, rainbowduke!

Temptation only ever exists because you want to give in to it, so don't stand in your own way.

I honestly wish that more people your age would show an interest in politics instead of reality TV and Wii.

Good luck, and remember to leave a link here when you start your blog.

G Eagle Esq said...

Well done Paul - even 51st is not to be sneezed at

But for the benefit of your many Visitors in the coming year, can we urge you to follow the advice given by the Birds to the Floppsy Bunnies when trapped by Farmer McGregor after eating too much lettuce :

"To exert yourself"

Alternatively, seek inspiration by reading Benjamin Bunny & Mrs Tiggy-Winkle to your delightful little folk

Stephen said...

Have to say that I enjoy John Redwood's Diary; there's considerably more meat than Iain Dale's even if it is very much from the right.

Labour could do with a left-wing equivalent of the Vulcan, rather than the bunch of old wooly socks who seem to be at the top of the heap right now.

Sunny said...

Hi Paul,

Some good points there. You're also right in that my fears have been realised - these lists only fit into the right-wing trope that the only blogs that count are the right-wing ones, even if they have small readerships.

This poll was entirely predictable.