It's that time of the year again. Iain Dale is compiling his 2008/9 Guide to Political Blogging and is once again asking for your help in putting together his annual popularity poll.
This blog was placed 10th in the 2006 poll and 18th last year. I would love to do as well again, but seriously don't expect to, as I have had considerably less time to spend on blogging over the past 12 months or so and the frequency (though hopefully not the quality) of postings has suffered as a result. Obviously I'm not going to stop anyone voting for me though - email your Top 10 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One or two well-known left bloggers are refusing to take part in the poll on the grounds that Iain Dale has consistently made a point of slagging off the left blogosphere, and also that by competing, we are feeding into Iain's image of himself as the "granddaddy of political blogging."
Although I should declare an interest both as a columnist for Total Politics and an (unpaid) contributor to the Guide - I'll be writing about the state of the MSM blogosphere - I disagree on both counts.
On the first point, refusing to take part in an election because a Tory blogger disses your blog is a bit like refusing to vote Labour because the Tory Party says they are shite. Unfortunately for those who would like to see the blogosphere as some sort of neutral platform for the exchange of ideas, political partisanship goes with the territory.
Iain's claim that the entire left blogosphere is rubbish is, in any case, a banquet of bollocks and I don't know why he goes on making it, especially when it contradicts the complimentary things he has said about this and other centre-left blogs in the past. But opting out of the only blog popularity poll currently in town is not the eway to counter that wrong impression.
Secondly, Iain is only the granddaddy of the blogosphere for two reasons - (1) Because Tim Worstall decided he didn't want to be any more, and (2) Because he is the only blogger who has the time and resources to compile the Guide. These aren't good enough reasons not to take part, in my view.
So what of my nominations? There are four leftish blogs in my top 10, three that are centre-ground and three that are right-leaning - a fairly balanced list!
1 Political Betting. Mike Smithson's one-man punditry factory is still the must-read among political blogs.
2 Liberal England. Well-written, funny and wistful, it's about time Jonathan Calder (Lord Bonkers) achieved wider recognition.
3 Benedict Brogan. One of only two newspaper lobby men (Sam Coates is the other) who really "gets" blogging and uses the medium to maximum effect.
4 Liberal Conspiracy. The best attempt thus far to corral together the disparate voices of the left blogosphere - far more so than Comment is Free.
5 Iain Dale's Diary. Still a right riveting read most days despite the (sometimes overdone) anti-Brown propaganda.
6 Hopi Sen. The best new blog to emerge over the past year from Labour's uber-Blairite former North-East press officer.
7 The Daily Pundit. First to predict David Davis's resignation - in 2006. What more can be said?
8 Coffee House. Fraser Nelson usually gets the credit, but in my view James Forsyth is the real reason for this group blog's success.
9 Rupa Huq. Didn't quite take the blogosphere by storm in the way some predicted, but still interesting and insightful.
10 Skipper. Consistently sharp political analysis, though from an increasingly Blairite perspective, from the much underrated Dr Bill Jones.
My list contains a couple of notable omissions in the shape of Dizzy Thinks and Bloggerheads. Both are still excellent blogs in my view, but they have spent too much time attacking eachother over the past year for my liking.
I also left out Guido Fawkes, even though I visit his blog most days. It's still a must-read most of the time, but he has published too many nasty smears about Gordon Brown over the past 12 months to be in my Top 10, not least trying to prove that there was something corrupt in his close relationship with a think-tank set up in memory of his great friend and mentor John Smith, and repeatedly rehashing Mandelson's Gay Gordon smear that was discredited sometime in and around 1994.
I think that's probably enough controversy for now...