Wednesday, 19 July 2017

All That Is Solid Blog Appeal

The left loves a good appeal. From the whip around for room costs to grandiose annual fundraisers, it's part of the labour movement's DNA. And it should never be otherwise. Loads of small donations from all over the place help maintain political or editorial independence. It's a sign that a lot of people like what you're doing on the basis of what you're doing already. If you rely on a few backers with deep pockets, then you're beholden to them. Your operation and your ideas are fine and dandy as long as moneybags is okay with it and it can make you lazy and vulnerable to getting cut off. Let that be a warning: Progress are in serious difficulties now Papa Sainsbury has pulled his annual £250k bung. To refer to them as the Militant of the right is to flatter them. The Tendency would never have left themselves as exposed.

You know what I'm leading up to, right? Yes, I'm launching my own appeal. But with a difference. You see, I don't need cash. My job keeps my affairs ticking over. Nor do I need megabucks to employ an assistant or get fancy software or fork out for hosting or a redesign or whatevs. All these things are fine.

No, what I am appealing for is something much harder to accumulate than cash: readers. The blog needs more Facebook likes. It needs more followers on Twitter. This is where you can help.

This blog isn't a slouch. Well, at least I don't think it is when it comes to readership. This month is looking like the busiest ever with over 160,000 page views projected by the time the calendar flips over into August. To give you an idea how far things have come, that is almost twice the total for the entire year of 2008 and not that far off equalling the entirety of 2014. By the end of this month this year's tally is likely to have surpassed the total number of views received in 2016. There can be large variations from day to day, but the trend is consistently upwards. That you're turning out something people want is a great feeling.

Yet this is small beer compared to some. Guido, the establishment's go-to presently receives around 154,000 page views a day. The new wave of left blogs probably aren't up there yet, but they cannot be far off. Skwawkbox was talking about hundreds of thousands of views during the busy period of the general election. Ditto The Canary which has seen it power past established outfits like the New Statesman in the web rankings. And Another Angry Voice has just shy of 330,000 likes on Facebook, translating into a lot of clickthrough. What all these sites have in common is they are operated full time and post multiple times a day. There is always something new, and that helps maintain the large number of page views.

This site is never going to get as many views, but they - the new left - does show there is a large audience for leftwing politics, an audience this place is barely scratching.

I am therefore humbly asking for your help. We live in interesting times again, but these are messy, confusing times as well. This blog has carved out a niche of trying to analyse things as they are, attempting to raise the level of debate and contributing towards a new left politics that prizes honest thinking and honest accounting about what has been done, where we are, and what we should do. It's a project I hope a lot of activists and comrades find worthwhile, even if they have to put up with my music taste and penchant for old video games occasionally intruding.

Unfortunately, there aren't a great many blogs like this. Ones that stand out are New Socialist, Chris Dillow, Stavvers, Flip Chart Rick, The Tendance, to name a few. However, fresh thinking and discussion about what is happening is needed. Alas, this gap remains unfilled by the new left blogs. At their best they're good for mobilising support for the Corbyn project, at worst we see boosterist churnalism, ill-researched conspiranoia and, appallingly, the scaremongering of vulnerable people.

The best antidote to this and a way of raising their standards is if serious thinking and serious analysis starts getting more traction, more views, more shares. You should therefore definitely read the sites mentioned above. But what I'm asking, pleading, is for you to help a blogger out. Could you please like the Facebook page so you a) never miss a post and b) allows you to share stuff on Facebook easily. In case you missed the big like button up top you can do so here. Could you get your friends and comrades to give us the thumbs up too. There is the Twitter as well. Either hit follow in the top right or head to the profile page for a good gawp at Stryper. Simply put, the greater the social media reach the more likely the serious questions facing the left, questions like understanding and getting to grips with the new class politics, the transformation of the Labour Party, and working out why the Tory vote is proving resilient despite blunder after cock up after disaster, are going to reach and engage the brains of more people. There is wisdom in that there crowd, after all.

Thanks for helping out.


Andrew Coates said...

Well said, "attempting to raise the level of debate and contributing towards a new left politics that prizes honest thinking and honest accounting about what has been done, where we are, and what we should do."

For a start, your Blog combines serious political sociology with on the ground experience, and on a range of issues, from UKIP and Brexit to Corbyn, I would consider it essential reading. To give just one example, you gave the best and most honest account of Tristram Hunt as a politician I've read.

The Blogs you cite try to do the same, that is use our knowledge of political theory, social explanation, to give an angle on issues that concern activists - in my case something I consider one of the most important developments in European politics, the dire state of the French left after Macron.

This is the time for reflection, not click-bait.

There are other Blogs, and you are probably better informed than I am on this, concerned with Labour *policy* which is an area of greater importance than set-piece Web battles.

To repeat: well said.

Lidl_Janus said...

Can second the quality of Dillow, not familiar with the others. I've started reading Crooked Timber, although I'm not sure if I'd recommend them at this point.

As for Facebook, I barely use it these days. When I say Facebook is a cancer of the Internet, I mean it in the most literal and non-insulting possible sense: it seems to keep growing, with increasingly hideous results, for no real reason.

Phil said...

Cheers Coatesy.

Re: Crooked Timber, I've always found it a weird site. I suppose it should be compelling but there's something about it that's off-putting. And too American as well.

Ben Philliskirk said...

Crooked Timber is generally way too 'liberal' in a way that involves policing people's opinions and abstract ideas rather than analysing political phenomena in any real depth. This could be regarded as quite 'American' were it not for the fact that many of the most interesting and left-wing of the commenters are from the US. I think it's best read for the comments rather than the OPs.

George Carty said...

Another blog you may be interested in is David Timoney's From Arse To Elbow.