Friday, April 18, 2008

The Economist on Politics, New Media & Blogging

This week's Economist has a piece on how British politics is only semi-connected to the internet age. Here's an excerpt...

EVEN the least fogeyish of politicians have been flummoxed by the internet. Tony Blair, champion of all things modern, paid no end of lip service to the potential of new media as prime minister but was comically technophobic himself. Still, the internet plays a role in huge areas of British public life: party politics, punditry and government itself. But web aficionados lament a yawning gap with America, and with the most go-ahead corners of Europe.

The official websites of the main political parties—Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats—get less web traffic than the most popular political blogs, and much less than even the far-right British National Party. No surprise, say cyber enthusiasts; they do a passable job as repositories of information but offer little scope for users to get involved beyond signing up for e-mail distribution lists...

More vitality can be found in the British blogosphere, which has changed how many people tap in to punditry. But shortcomings remain. Whereas there is broad parity between right and left in the American blogosphere, in Britain the left has yet really to get going. There is no agreement on the best way of measuring web traffic but few dispute that right-wing websites such as Conservative Home, Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale's Diary are more popular than left-wing rivals such as Liberal Conspiracy, Labour Home and Bloggers4Labour (see table). Some say this is because the party in opposition can usually count on more motivated activists than the party in power. Others contend that right-wing politics are more suited to the punchy, pithy medium of blogging.

31 comments:

hugh said...

Well this extract doesn't seem to acknowledge that the American blogoshpere is dominated by the left wing blogs like Daily Kos. Dominance of the internet discourse has much to do with who is in power.

Sunny said...

*cough*

*splutter*

Anonymous said...

"EVEN the least fogeyish of politicians have been flummoxed by the internet"

Oh I wonder why that happened? Erm! Let me think about it for a...nano second. Aint 'cos they are thick as two planks or anything like that is it? Yeah, that and it's too much like hard work.

"Tony Blair, champion of all things modern, paid no end of lip service to the potential of new media as prime minister but was comically technophobic himself"

Yeah and we all know why that was.
Remember this story?
20th February 2007
Tony Blair could not understand why the Cabinet should have any say over major Government decisions, according to a devastating portrait of the Prime Minister.

Some of those who worked closely with Mr Blair say he was dismissive of the views of his fellow ministers - preferring to limit decisions to a 'small revolutionary cell'.

I would have been surprised if narcissist PM Blair took on the www and all it's evil pro-England hooligans! He didnt have the guts.
What! When it's full of people who didnt agree with his views.
Blair is like Hitler and Stalin. He doesnt want to hear or read what his feeble like psych cant take! Plus, I think he is completely contemptuous of us.

"in Britain the left has yet really to get going"

Yeah but isnt that because theyre dogmatic? Why argue when youre right all the time? That is their mindset right?

Semaj Mahgih said...

Others contend that right-wing politics are more suited to the punchy, pithy medium of blogging.

Where does Bob Piper fit in on this?

Cranmer said...

Mr Dale,

Why is your blog displaying a very prominent Google advertisement saying 'Brian Paddick for Mayor'?

Is not this an advertisement too far, or has Mammon grasped one's political principles?

Would you permit an advertisement saying 'Vote Gordon Brown' during a general election campaign?

His Grace has been praying for Mr Johnson every day since he announced his candidacy. This sort of temporal opposition is most unwelcome!

Scary Biscuits said...

The reason that the UK blogoshpere is dominated by the right is that we have nowhere else to go. Even supposedly right wing newspapers such as the Mail and the Telegraph are in fact overwhelmingly staffed by left-wingers.

This is the reason that their articles often have a tinny sound. The journalist doesn't really believe what he's writing. He's asking himself 'what would an evil right wing bastard want to read?' That's why the Sun is so much more convincing supporting New Labour than it was supporting the Conservatives (often earning the scorn of other journalists with the latter).

Sadly, the mainstream newspapers and broadcasters in the UK represent a cartel of fashionable, liberal opinions. If you don't share those opinions, then generally you're not going to get far within any of them. Even more sadly, most MPs are members of the same cartel.

This cartel has a groupthink which has diverged from mainstream opinion and this (not new technology or social changes) is the fundamental reason for both declining circulations and electoral turnouts.

Funding of PRs on massive scale by the Government, both directly and via quangoes and compliant charities, and its sidelining of Parliament cements the corruption and prevents any media company from falling out of line.

The blogosphere represents the UK's best chance of breaking this cartel and creating a media whih is true to the etymology of the word, as a medium of communication, to the benefit of all.

kinglear said...

Right wing blogs are better for the same reason that Tory parties are more fun than Labour ones. As Silvio Berlusconi would say because the women are better looking - vote for me! Well it worked for him....The most interesting thing about SB's success is the fact that he is the complete antithesis of the grey ubereuro Prodi - and people appear to have gone for character that - to me - seems to sum up Italy perfectly.

Newmania said...

Piper is certainly a vicious and dirty fighter for whom a belt is defined as

" Something you hit below "

I spotted in Private Eye that this year there was a greater advertising budget on the web than the TV for the first time. You will soon have a gold plated Audi Iain.
And this is the problem with the right wing blogasphere. The "Players and Gentlemen" division reflecting a deep dissonance in Conservative thinking

Whereas someone like myself or proper bloggers like Cassilis Croydonian Dizzy and DK are "Gentlemen " doing it for healthy larks with the clean limbed joy of the old Barbarians, the gnarled and taciturn "Pro" like an Iain Dale, beavering away into the wee hours like a Scotsman, inevitably wins all the prizes . The clutch of MSM late comers are similiarly ‘ringers ‘. When you think about it what golf club would let the pro play in the annual cup.?

I say it is not fair and this gives me an excuse to quote the marvellous bit of Kipling I saw in the Speccie this AM as part of their ‘England’ jamboree

“When he stands like an Ox in the furrow
With his sullen eyes set on your own
And grumble this isn`t fair dealing
My son , leave the Saxon alone “....

I suggest in the light of this ‘un-fair dealing’ a Corinthian league of gentlemen from which Iain Dale and his mighty corporate bloggernaut is banned . Cooperative enterprises would help and a clear line between the amateur and the scuttling pro. This bogger for hire may gnaw on his mashie Niblick in the dingy changing room whilst "Gentlemen" amateurs contest the cup in the bright golden Summer of this gorgeous England .

Scary Biscuits said...

Cranmer, Newspapers often (or more often, used) to carry advertisements for political opponents. I don't see why Dale should be any different.

It's healthy to see political discourse carried into enemy territory and it shows intellectual self-confidence by those that allow it.

Your Grace might like to consider the anlogy of Islam vs Prostestant Christianity. The former has no true confidence in its beliefs and therefore allows no debate on them, fearful of where it might lead. Conversely, it is no accident that the Protestant citadels of Oxford and Cambridge became the handmaidens of modern science.

Newmania said...

Ah yes your Grace " Paddick for Mayor "Shudder.

It is tempting of course to aquire the daily hilarity of Paddick`s cod management speak, dimly ingested whilst pushing paper in a floundering bureacracy. I still feel we should resist the temptation and vote for Boris.

Now this Dale banner is the sort of thing you would get from a Player( not a Gentleman) ...no code you see.


Boris must win .

sherlock said...

Labour have now become the opposition for all intents and purposes yet
the British leftwing blogosphere is still a thankfully pathetic display.
There's more to it than simply not being in power.

Anyway, well done Iain for getting a mention in the Economist.

javelin said...

I'm sure their a few grounded people that work at the Economist, but I haven't ever met one.

The reason the left-wing blogs aren't popular is that left-wing people are like hacks from the economist - only without a personality or sense of humor.

Desperate Dan said...

The trouble with blogs is that they're enjoyable timewasters. Most of the time I'm reading them I really should be doing something else.

James said...

"Right wing blogs are better for the same reason that Tory parties are more fun than Labour ones"

King Lear - very true, and they're more fun because they feature completely bonkers remarks from bitter old whackado knuckleheads who can't spell and sip sherry in their pyjamas all day long.

Are the women better looking?

In my experience most Tory women are extremely fat (not that I mind a bit of a curve), and like male little-Englanders, have an inflated sense of their own beauty as well as their own importance.

Not very attractive, but amusing from a distance.

I have no intention of ever visiting a blogsite that might agree with my views - much too boring.

dirty european socialist said...

I am part of the left wing blogosphere and do a good job I got 300 page impressions a few days ago yesterday. So there.

verity said...

Newmania, you can get help for your dyslexia. Don't suffer in silence.

dirtyeuropeansocialist said...

The blog is dominated by the right because twe right have more money. So surely the people who do not have the internet are more likely to be left wing. Stands to logic.

Who do most people in public school vote tory?

Anonymous said...

I always suspected Blair and Alastair Campbell's supposed "technophobia" was more about an extension of sofa government - the way meetings were avoided because minutes were an inconvenience. In the same way, it's much safer to call people than to email them - no records.

This seems to have been borne out by the trouble the police seemed to have over cash for peerages in finding a paper trail to either prove innocence or guilt. Loads of this stuff seems to just be done informally and off the record.

Newmania said...

Newmania, you can get help for your dyslexia. Don't suffer in silence.


Acquire
Bureaucracy

OK?

Good Lord Verity is getting strict; I kinda like it .....

Mr. Dirty the left hate individualism for obvious reasons and as Blogging is an essentially egomaniacal expression of self-hood they are not going to be much cop. If there was five year State blog plan to build a flabby Blogopolis they could make the same expensive dog's breakfast of that they do everything else. I daresay the prospect makes you salivate unpleasantly .

Cranmer said...

Cranmer, Newspapers often (or more often, used) to carry advertisements for political opponents. I don't see why Dale should be any different.

Because this blog is Mr Dale's private property, and he is hoping to be a Conservative parliamentary candidate. Promtoting one's opponents is like putting up a poster outside one's own house and insisting that debating with oneself is 'healthy for political discourse'.

Your theological analogy is a little flawed. The mere fact that Mr Dale has a blog is indicative of his desire to engage in healthy debate. But accepting monies in order to actively promote one's opponents (when one's friends and colleagues are doing all they can to ensure victory for Mr Johnstone) is politically treacherous and idealogically schizophrenic.

A blog is a window to an author's mind. While contradictions and the mutually exclusive may occasionally be held in tension - for the world is not black and white - that cannot apply during an election campaign as important as this one.

If Mr Paddick now wins (say) more second votes than Mr Johnson, handing victory to Mr Livingstone, how could Mr Dale insist that he was not at least partially responsible?

Mammon is one thing, but selling one's soul for Mr Paddick is appallingly cheap.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"Newmania, you can get help for your dyslexia. I did and ive nevver loked bak"

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"Newmania, you can get help for your dyslexia. Don't suffer in silence. I find that Gaviscon helps"

Bill Quango MP said...

dirty European socialist..

You ARE the reason the Left suffer on blogging.

The dull predictability of your posts, clearly exemplified by your very last one. Its because of money!

We are all poor and all those rich Tory pensioners get free Broadband..etc

It seems so logical until you expend one second of rational thought, and then the argument collapses like a poorly planned PFI contract.

Your comments are as ill informed as they are uninteresting as they are blind as they are pointless.

That said, you do manage to workup some into a lather over the EU or health care, or Iraq so don't give up. Practice makes perfect.
Look at Mr Brown. He's been practicing very hard and now every day he's a little bit more like Mr Blair, so it does work.

Cranmer said...

PS

It is not merely an advertisement, in any case, as there are now disparaging comments about Mr Johnson:

Brian Paddick for Mayor
Talks more sense than Boris or Ken - Suzanne Moore, Daily Mail


As one who urged Mr Johnson to stand, who has prayed for him every day (really) since he announced his candidacy, and who urges his flock to vote for a man of integrity, conviction and honour, such advertisements going out to 50,000 a week negate a week of effort and months of prayer.

Rumbold said...

Cranmer:

"Integrity, conviction and honour."

Boris is a serial adulterer. Please don't lecture Iain Dale on morality and then say that you support Boris because of his "integrity, conviction and honour."

Newmania said...

I did misspell the name of King 'Cnut' when discussing our glorious leaders attempt to hold back the waves of global credit crunchery recently but I felt it worked out well


(...anyway way my spelling is better than Shakespeare’s.)

*smart smart*

Newmania said...

You don't suppose Iain’s support for Paddick is the secret GAY MAFIA again do you ?

PS I must dispute James’ twaddle about the beauty if the Conservative woman. She is an enchanting creature whose staid outer attire often conceals provocatively wanton undergarments and a frisky attitude. Left wing women appear to have Tarantulas nesting in their armpits, smell of local authority disinfectant , and will only allow sex on the strict understanding it is as nasty brutish and short as life in 1381( Peasants Revolt )

Cranmer said...

Mr Rumbold,

His Grace isn't lecturing anyone; he is simply raising a pertinent issue and asking a relevant question on a point of principle. And he is doing so politely, in a calm and measured way. But it is typical that ad hominem words start being flung around when there is no reasonable explanation of the issue.

Of course if you find Mr Johnson's personal life distasteful, that is a matter for you. But His Grace was referring to Mr Johnson's conduct in public life, which is how all in public life should be judged.

Mr Johnson's adultery is of no more consequence than Mr Paddick's homosexuality. It has no bearing on his ability to do the job. Sexual behaviour belongs in the private realm. His Grace simply does not agree that a man's private adultery or homsexuality have any bearing at all on a man's public honour, conviction or integrity. After all, you have no knowledge of any context, and are therefore in no position to judge.

Now then, who will answer the question?

Rumbold said...

The Most Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Cranmer:

" And he is doing so politely, in a calm and measured way."

Suggesting that Iain Dale has compromised his principles for money? Not too measured in my opinion.

"Of course if you find Mr Johnson's personal life distasteful, that is a matter for you. But His Grace was referring to Mr Johnson's conduct in public life, which is how all in public life should be judged."

Agreed. But if you then start talking about someone's honour and integrity, then inevitably their personal life is going to come up.

Unsworth said...

@ Rumbold: "But if you then start talking about someone's honour and integrity, then inevitably their personal life is going to come up."

In your world, possibly. In mine, not necessarily. Prurient interest does not always aid illumination.

Would you care also to comment on Mr 'Broomstick' Livingstone's interesting dissemination of his gene pool?

Frankly I'm much more interested in his liberal usage of alcoholic 'medication' and his incoherent unreasoning support of crooks and thugs.

Rumbold said...

Unsworth:

I don't judge politicians by their private lives but neither do I use words like 'honour' to describe their public lives.