I'm not going to write Sunny an obituary. After all, he's not kicked the bucket. If anything the transition he's made to the mainstream media increases the likelihood of readers bumping into him. But, if we're honest, I've had the sense Liberal Conspiracy had been eased out of its niche. CiF, New Statesman, Indy and the revitalised HuffPoUK for the last year have aggressively scooped up emerging writers and more or less cornered the market in centre left comment. Apart from group blogs attached in some way to Labour (LabourList, Labour Uncut, Progress, Left Futures, Left Foot Forward), group blogs firmly located outside of party political loyalties (Next Left Project, The F-Word), and a few stubborn indies with various affiliations; where was the audience now to be found for something as eclectic as LibCon?
As Sunny's reflection notes, Liberal Conspiracy (despite its strange name, from a UK perspective) was the launch pad for a whole tier of professional bloggers. Heavens, even I've had a couple of posts featured on there! LibCon came along at a time when there was no real multi-platform blog for liberal-left bloggers (remember, this was launched when the LibDems were posing as a leftish progressive party). Sunny's assiduous recruitment of a roster of relatively well-known Labour, LibDem, Green and Trot(ish) bloggers was an immediate pull factor that got bums on seats. This was especially important as, though it's difficult to believe now, the big Tory blogs of the time were seriously arguing that the internet was natural Conservative territory. Not that there was ever any truth to such a ridiculous notion, Liberal Conspiracy very quickly grew to challenge the dominance of Iain Dale's Diary, Guido, and ConHome and supplant them. There was indeed an internet-travelling audience receptive to social and political critique - a large one. It's place in the history of how blogging pulled itself up by the bootstraps and became an accepted part of British political commentary is assured.
There is one point I'd like to pick up on. Sunny notes "frankly, there is just too much opinion out there." Though I wouldn't phrase it that way, I know what he's getting at. Social media has lowered the barrier of entry even further. You don't have to spend ages crafting blog posts to get your views out there. In seconds you can tweet at the object of your ire, and circulate opinions to hundreds of Facebook friends. Social media is the great leveller. But ironically, it helps solidify the position of those who successfully made the transition from blogging to getting paid to write. We've previously noted that the path from nowhere to sustained and regular comment gigs has largely been choked off - those who have made it are not going to give up their berths unless they're forced to, or if they graduate onto something better and/or more rewarding. And why should they? If you was paid more than your current salary to write what you think about the issues of the day, would you drop that job lightly?
Endings in blogging are always difficult, and I'm sure Sunny brooded long and hard over the decision to pull the plug. But, as a whole, Liberal Conspiracy was a job well done.
Now, with the nice words done, how about directing that newly rootless audience my way?