Thursday, July 14, 2011

Me, this blog, and Dale and Co

I started this blog in 2005 with no great ambitions for it other than to provide an outlet for my political writing which, at that time, was not afforded to me by my 'day job.'

I had left the parliamentary lobby the year before in order to pursue a different line of work and enjoy a better quality of life, and although I did not miss the lobby as such, I did miss being able to sound-off about the political events of the day.

To my surprise, the blog "took off" in a small way and for the first few years of its existence was regularly voted among the top 20 political blogs in the UK in Iain Dale's annual guide.

For a while, I thought it might even fill that much-talked-about left-of-centre "void" in a political blogosphere which, at the time, was dominated by three giant Conservative blogs - Iain Dale's Diary, Guido Fawkes and Conservative Home.

As it turned out, a number of factors militated against that, the biggest of which was that the mainstream media with their hugely superior resources swiftly got in on the blogging phenomenon.

Why bother reading what Paul Linford had to say about the latest Labour leadership crisis when you could read the views of people much closer to the action, such as Benedict Brogan or Paul Waugh?

Like many other 'lone' bloggers at the time, I also found the readers' appetites for constant updates - 'feeding the blog monster' as it became known - impossible to sustain.

And there were internal pressures within my then workplace too, something about which I will say more some day.

I kept the blog going, mainly because it still retained a small core of loyal readers and commenters (thanks, guys), and also to provide an online presence for my weekly column in The Journal, which otherwise only appeared in print.

But I had long since come to the view that the best outlet for my blogging in future would be to join a group blog where the burden of providing a constant stream of entertaining and informative new material could be shared with others.

For a while I contributed to Liberal Conspiracy, but although I am an economic leftist, I have always been a small-c conservative on social issues and it soon became clear to me that my views on such matters as abortion were not appreciated by my fellow group bloggers there.

Fortunately Iain Dale has now offered me another opportunity through his new, non-partisan megablog Dale and Co, and this is where my main political blogging will be done from now on.

My contributions at Dale and Co will be accessible at this page or via this RSS feed

So far I have contributed two pieces on Rupert Murdoch and the phone-hacking scandal - the latest one focusing why yesterday's House of Commons vote to curb his expansion plans was 30 years overdue - and another more reflective historical piece on whether a British Prime Minister will ever again serve two non-consecutive terms.

As for this blog, it will continue, with the strictly limited purposes of providing the following:

  • An online presence for my Saturday column.

  • A central reference point for my output across a variety of print and online platforms, including Dale and Co, Total Politics and The Journalism Hub.

  • An outlet for some occasional personal blogging which will not be of great interest to readers of those other platforms.

  • A readily accessible archive of my blogging output over the past six years, including my 'Political Top 10s' which continue to get pretty high Google rankings.

  • A series of links to sites which interest me and which may interest others of a like mind who drop by here.

  • To those who are interested in that sort of stuff, please continue to visit. To the rest of you, see you over at Dale and Co.

    1 comment:

    Stephen Rouse said...

    I read the headline and first few paragraphs and thought "Uh-oh, he's shutting down the whole blog." I am relieved to see it is continuing at least in this form. Your Saturday essays often crystalise vague thoughts which have been floating around my head during the week.

    I am disappointed, however, that you have given up on Liberal Conspiracy. I disagree with many of your social views, Paul, but that site suffers from a lack of diversity in its postings. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard, as do, conversely, economic conservatives who are socially liberal (such as, one suspects, our own dear Prime Minister). In its relentless tribalism, Liberal Conspiracy has only further ghetto-ised the l-word.