Charlie Beckett writes entertainingly about the state of the presence of the political left in the UK blogosphere:
The Online Socialists have various problems.
No-one reads them. Guido Fawkes and his wicked Right-wing pals are far more entertaining and they know how to write for an online audience: scurriously, succinctly, directly. They are much more committed and actually contribute facts, stories and vitriol to the debate…
The Left bloggers want to change the world but they don’t want any responsibility. In this they are a mirror image of the right-wing blogosphere in the States.
This is a topic that Simon Dickson has picked up on several occasions, once pointing the finger at The Guardian‘s Comment is Free platform as overly-dominating online debate amongst liberals and left-wingers:
My theory, still in development, is that Comment Is Free is too big. If you want to read left-leaning blog content, you could start and finish on that one website, and wouldn’t miss much. And if you’re a leftie blogger, getting an item on Comment Is Free would put your rant in front of many times more readers than any solo blog.
It’s an interesting discussion. Can conservatives really be better at online than lefties in this country? And does it fit with other media – newspapers, magazines etc? I think there is probably an argument that The Spectator is a better read than The New Statesman, but then Prospect is better than Standpoint, so that’s kind of cancels itself out.
Online is important though, especially at time of political change, and of course we have one of those coming up in the next couple of years when we have a general election. Not only will comment-based blogs come to the fore, but parties and candidates will need to leverage the online during their campaigns just as Obama and others did in the States. I would hope they are planning what they are going to do now, otherwise it can end up being a bit of a mess.
Postscript: Charlie Beckett is going to be talking at 2gether08. Am signed up to go along for what should be a really interesting session.