Sunday, 3 January 2010

New Blog Round Up

Here's a round up of new(ish) blogs I've been made aware of recently.

First up is The Grey Matter. They say "The Grey Matter is an independent newsletter about politics in Tyne and Wear, based in Newcastle. It is not affiliated to any political party and it is run entirely by volunteers. We want to expand our operation and are constantly looking for more people the help out. If you have a story, want to contribute, think you could help in any way, or have a suggestion don’t hesitate to contact:". Sounds alright, but there's nothing much doing on the blog since mid-December.

Scottish Socialist Youth have got in on the blogging act with an irreverent and unserious (in a good way) makeover to their website. It leads with Harry Trotter's magical adventures leading Santa's elves out on strike, and dubs Rage Against the Machine's successful bid for the Christmas number one "the greatest victory for the working class ever". I for one entirely agree.

A welcome addition to progressive blogging comes in the shape of
FWD/Forward, a blog for disabled feminists. They write, " It is a place to discuss disability issues and the intersection between feminism and disability rights activism. The content here ranges from basic information which is designed to introduce people who are new to disability issues or feminism to some core concepts, to more advanced topics, with the goal of promoting discussion, conversation, fellowship, and education."

A couple of blogs now for comrades who like their labour movement history. First there is
Socialist History News, which carries pieces from the Socialist History Society's newsletter, advertises lectures, etc. The London Socialist Historians Group blog offers similar fare for London-based lefties and is more active than the national site.

I've occasionally moaned about the allergic reaction some on the far left have toward blogging, so I'm pleased to see comrades from my own organisation have entered the fray in a sort-of-official capacity. Coventry Socialist Party has recently launched a
Councillors' Blog. There's not a great deal on there at the moment (a motion Dave Nellist and Rob Windsor brought to council supporting the Vestas workers, a report on a public meeting, a think piece on social housing) but I hope it will become more active and give an insight into what it means to be a socialist councillor.

One of the most curious groups on the far left are our friends in the Socialist Party of Great Britain. In one sense they are the most fundamentalist of all the organisations that claim Marxist inspiration as they are committed to arguing for socialism and nothing but. They alone have the strange position of disavowing any links between workers' struggles in the here and now, the confidence the labour movement has in its collective power and the movement for socialism. Instead abstract propaganda on why socialism is nice and capitalism nasty is the order of the day. Which leads to another curiosity - the existence of a relatively large number of SPGB bloggers, despite offering very little variation on this theme. Perhaps new SPGB blog
Free Times 3x will be a departure and offer something more? We shall see. You can follow Free Times 3x on Twitter here.

From the fringes to the centre left, next blog
Tory Stories is the brainchild of Jon Cruddas MP and Chuka Umunna, Labour PPC for Streatham. The blog is another addition to Labour's "evidence-based" armoury in the run up to the general election. They write "the site acts as a depository for evidenced articles on Conservatives in local and regional government, showing that, once in office, the party’s actions consistently fail to match its rhetoric. We urge readers to contribute to keeping this as up-to-date as possible by sending in further Tory Stories from across the country."

Sticking with Labour-loyal blogging,
Attleeite Lefty is Rosie, a "left-wing-lefty student, amateur blogger, Twitter addict, avid cook, socialist, burlesque enthusiast and generic person who happens to write on politics occasionally." You can follow Rosie on Twitter here.

Time for what is perhaps the newest blog on the block.
ajit8 appears to promise a mix of Maoism/Guevarism and anarchism (going by the site aesthetic), and kicks off with a repost of an article by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In the about section, ajit8 writes "Because there is no compromise. Because compromise is a Kop-out. Be true, be real and don’t be tainted." You can follow him on Twitter here.

And that's it as far as new blogs go. If you know of any recent start ups that haven't been covered previously (past posts on new blogs
are here) then please let me know.

Just a couple of further announcements. Because I've promised him for ages and have kept forgetting, here's a plug for centre-left Labour blogger
Hadleigh Roberts (you can also follow Hadleigh on Twitter here.

Second, in my
recent post on socialist blogging I expressed scepticism that centre left bloggers would plug those from Marxist/Trotskyist backgrounds. Replying, Will Straw of Left Foot Forward writes:
You issue something of a challenge by saying "Apart from Liberal Conspiracy, I doubt Labour List, Left Foot Forward and the like would be willing to give those to their left outside Labour a leg up."

We're already working with Green party and Lib Dem contributers plus a number of trade unionists, NGOs, campaign groups, and think tanks. We'd be happy to extend this "leg up" to you guys (although judging by your traffic stats it may be the other way around).

So here's a challenge to you: write for Left Foot Forward on new ideas that are not yet getting mainstream coverage, critiquing conservative policies and statements, and challenging the right wing media bias.

In turn, we'll increase our link love (an error of omission rather than anything else thus far).

If you're up for it, my email address is The same offer applies to any other bloggers reading this.
Can't say fairer than that really.

Right, that's the last time I'll be blogging about blogging for quite a while, I promise!


luna17 said...

I loved the SSP Youth blog's Top 10 protest placards of the year (and linked to it on my blog) - it was one of the more amusing and original end-of-year lists.

I'm also enamoured of The Grey Matter, due to them inviting me to write an opinion piece for them. On a less selfish note, it genuinely looks very promising, providing it's updated frequently. It increases the number of North East socialist blogs from two to three, unless there's any I'm unaware of (the other one is called The Proletarian Tide).

Phil said...

Yes, there's the People's Republic of Teesside, which has recently restarted after a hiatus.

George said...

I hope this website can help highlight the propagandist nature of the Tory party, and at least make sure we get a hung parliament, I really couldn't cope with a generation of Tory governments.

Will said...

What about

which seems to have been active since September

Left Unity said...

These posts about blogging have been really useful. Don't stop yet! By the way, there is also (for some shameless self-promotion). Thanks.

Phil said...

Cheers, plugs will be forthcoming in the next round up.

Though the Cov SP councillors' blog hasn't sprang into action, there is a new report up on the website proper on a strike undertaken by TSSA members (ticket office staff) in dispute with Virgin Trains. Report can be read here.

Anonymous said...

The SPGB does have links with workers' struggles in the here and now – namely, its members, who of course work for the increased confidence and collective power of the labour movement. The SPGB believes that this movement should not allow its confidence and power to be undermined by political parties trying to take it over and lead it where it doesn't want to go. This may indeed be a "curious" position, but better a few steps of real movement and democratic education than a dozen brilliant strategies and programmes from the Generals-Without-Armies leading the leftist sects.

ModernityBlog said...


Is it true that Socialist Unity will be renamed to Support-Any-Dictatorship Unity?


Phil said...

Stuart, I often hear rumours of trade unionists who are SPGB members - mainly from the SPGB themselves. But neither I nor anyone I know has ever come across them. Where are they hiding?

But still you cannot answer the main issue, which is the absolute separation the SPGB makes between the struggle for socialism and the actual movement of the working class. This is a strange position because the party itself claims socialism can only come about by the working class acting in concert to implement its interests.

Phil said...

You are a very naughty man, Mod.

Though to be fair to Andy, I don't think he's calling for support for the ruling theocracy in Iran - rather his analysis is about looking at things as they actually are in the country. As uncomfortable as it is, Ahmadinejad does have mass support on the basis of his populist/welfarist policies. If socialists in and outside of Iran cannot recognise that, what prospects for independent working class politics?

Anonymous said...

Well, it's a small party. Is the fact you've not met any supposed to constitute proof of some kind? All the SPGBers I know are or were (if retired) active in their unions or similar organisations, such as tenants associations and so on.

As for the "main issue", it's a separation you've made up as you acknowledge in your final sentence. There is no separation, just a difference of political opinion.

ModernityBlog said...

Really Phil,

I was joking but I'm disappointed at this reply

"Ahmadinejad does have mass support on the basis of his populist/welfarist policies."

With a sense of history, you could make that same case for any number of past dictators, particularly the Austrian one, mass support such as it is shouldn't induce socialists to tailend it, that mistake has been made too many times in the past and shouldn’t be repeated.

Ahmadinejad has support because he is in power, without that power that mass support will fall away to a rump of conservative and rightwing headbangers.

And when his regime and that of his boss falls socialists will have the opportunity to explain themselves, and why **some** of them tended to side with the ruling class in Teheran.

It ain't rocket science.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Sadly no amusingly named ones this time...

Phil said...

I think you miss my meaning, Mod. What I understand by Andy's argument is that given the mass support that exists for Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic as a whole is we have to tailor our strategies accordingly.

For instance at the upcoming general election, if all goes well Stoke SP will be standing. This means we will knock on doors in areas with no BNP support and others where there are pockets of it. in the latter places our strategies and tactics will be suited to the exigencies on the ground, which includes understanding why most BNP voters back them and fielding arguments that can challenge their assumptions and win them over. This doesn't mean we're giving the BNP back hand support.

Andy's trying to make a similar argument in relation to Iran. I don't see how understanding why people support the existing government and the set up of the Islamic Republic means Andy wants to cuddle up to the mullahs in Iran. We should see things how they actually are, and not substitute it for something we would like to see.

Phil said...

Daniel - you may be interested to learn the Barnstable Bolsheviks have come to my attention ;)

Phil said...

Stuart, I've got quite a wide circle of friends and comrades knocking about the British labour movement and they've come across trade unionist members of every left group under the sun - including the miniscule IBT! And yet the SPGB doesn't register.

This of course isn't to say you don't have any trade unionists - it's just that they're extremely quiet and make less of a splash than Trots far smaller.

As for the main point, you appear not to grasp the argument at all. There is a fundamental disjunction between theory and practice in the SPGB tradition. You are for a workers revolution, and yet the SPGB *as a party* fails to be involved in the day to day class struggle except as individuals. Real movements of the working class are ignored because they do not have socialism as their aim, regardless of the fact that victorious mobilisations - even around limited demands - increase the confidence and collective power of working class people.

For example, the miners' strike didn't have socialism as its aim. And yet had it been victorious British politics now would be very different. The labour movement would be in a stronger position, Thatcher toppled earlier and socialist politics wouldn't have led a twilight existence this last 20 or so years.

This apparently counts for nought as far as the SPGB are concerned. Its abstract propagandising exists apart from as opposed to being inside and oriented toward the class struggle.

ModernityBlog said...

"What I understand by Andy's argument is that given the mass support that exists for Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic as a whole is we have to tailor our strategies accordingly."

aye, right enough, Phil,

The regime feels it has such mass support that it needs to fiddle election returns?

It has so much mass support that it needs all apparatus of State Security machine to bludgeon the protesters?

Don't those obvious examples jar with this notion of "mass support"?

Quite frankly, it seems that Socialist Unity blog has decided to support almost any regime as long as they mouth "anti-imperialist" slogans and are seen as anti-Western.

Then suitable arguments are corralled in, to support that position.

From the outside it comes across as rather flaky and politically opportunist, maybe that's not what it is, but that's how it is seen.