Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Blogged Election, and blogging on blogs

Time for a little masturblogging, I think.

I think it's fair to say that the general election has been a real step forward in British blogging. It was the first time, really, that the UK blogosphere really functioned as such rather than as a collection of blogs orientated either towards Europe, or towards the US high-traffic elite. It was also the first time UK blogs regularly threw out the kind of monster comments threads frequently achieved in the States - Anthony Wells deserves real credit for the UK Polling Report. (Although some more posts might be nice.) It also saw the birth of a number of good blogs. The Sharpener is an excellent example - which is also showing signs of a healthy comment community.

What didn't happen, or at least not enough, was much field blogging from the campaign trail. Perhaps, though, this reflected the reality of the most autistic election in the history of British democracy, when campaigning was targeted to a greater degree than ever on a smaller-than-ever group of swing voters who are themselves less representative than ever, in order to elect a parliament less representative than ever before. For the majority of Britons, the election was lived as a media experience. I recall knocking on one door shortly before election day to be told that, in 22 years, I was the first canvasser to pass that way.

It was also a blogged election with some curious bloggers. The Times ought to be ashamed for its scheme to get unpaid members of the public to contribute to its website. The Guardian imported none other than Kos to fill its blog, with mixed results. And when is Richard North of EU Referendum going to disclose in any signal way that both he and his lady coblogger Helen Szamuely are on the payroll of the Bruges Group, and that EURB is therefore a wholly owned subsidiary of the Conservative Party? I recognise that most visitors to EU Referendum probably follow the internal politics of Euroscepticism closely, but you cannot rule out on the internet that anyone may turn up, perhaps expecting to find disinterested information. In fact, isn't the choice of title deliberately intended to draw casual googlers? It is, after all, the no.1 Google result for "EU referendum", a title it contends for chiefly with the German quack doctor Matthias Rath's website (link withheld on moral grounds, if you're interested). Herr Rath combines campaigning against the EU with advocating herbs as a treatment for HIV/AIDS, something which would be merely ridiculous in Europe but which has achieved a deadly degree of influence in Southern Africa.

PS: The much-delayed Ranter Redesign, Project R, will happen, I promise. It will include a disclosure and policy statement.

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