Sunday 23 July 2017

Who's Heard of UnHerd?

Unless you're totally plugged into the circuits of the Westminster world and its media bubble, you may have missed the soft launch of Tim Montgomerie's latest venture: UnHerd. Befitting a super serious outfit with offices in The Shard no less, it's pitched at "readers who choose the important to the new". This is reinforced by the pun-tastic monicker hung on the blog. In the bedazzling mediascape of the disposable hot take, UnHerd is opposing itself against the grain and offering what largely goes unheard: decent analysis backed with evidence and good writing. And it's un-herd because UnHerd writers and readers are are invited to refuse the company of the herd and do their own unfashionable thang.

A look at the folks recruited to help in Tim's efforts are none other than the likeable but vacuous Ruth Davidson, novelist Lionel Shriver, Jonathan Aitken, and snoring, boring bigot, Douglas Murray. The rest are a mix of up and comers, wannabes, and wonks. Basically, Tim has whipped out his mobile and tapped up those he thinks worthy of sinecure. It just so happens all of them, without exception, are part of the established pecking order of media comment too.

What then is the point? It's all very well having a product, but it needs to find an audience. In this regard UnHerd is arranging its output along five themes - Flyover country deserves a new deal, Religion is relevant (even if you don't believe), The end is (not) nigh, The tech industry mustn't own our futures, and Western capitalism must work for the many. If you're one of two people having a sense of de ja vu, these are concerns Tim ran with in his now defunct Good Right project. He's one of the few Tories that understand the class and the state of affairs they defend is imperilled and saving the show means giving a more freebies to the punters. Hence why the roster of writers run from Murray through to James Bloodworth. All, regardless of what you might think of their arguments, have written on the problems of capitalism and the state and all have something a rebooted Toryism might want to pinch. If only they had someone who could run with it half-convincingly.

Unfortunately for Tim, I don't think this project has much of a future. His big problem is the age of the superblog is done. If you go back to when blogging was in its infancy, it did happen and it did work. Conservative Home and LabourList assembled their great and the good to get the projects off the ground. Likewise Sunny Hundal's Liberal Conspiracy followed a similar approach. However, these were the only ones that made it for any length of time. The first two remain with us as the semi-official blogs of their respective parties, where as Sunny officially called time on LibCon in 2013. The only proven way for superblogs of big names to work is if they have an established media brand behind them. In the first few years of this decade it was they who vacuumed up the blogging celebs and signed them to their digital platforms. Those that have trod the trail UnHerd are on have not found bountiful pastures at the end, but the abattoir. The Good Right, gone. Byline? Who cares. CapX? Ditto. In each and every case, despite some "names" being involved they're very much less than the sum of their parts.

UnHerd then. A bit like Band Aid, minus the charidee. And largely missing the talent.


BCFG said...

The irony of all this is that it is precisely the atomisation of society, individualism, the lack of collective movements that creates a very narrow view of the world and retards human thought and development.

The atomisation of people leads people to only think of their little world, never thinking beyond immediate concerns, never to develop conceptual thought or think of higher ideals. It is a form of retardation.

So those who gleefully proclaim their disdain for the herd mentality only proclaim either their own nefarious interests or their own retardation. But it is usually the former!

I have watched a bit of Tim over the last few years as he seems popular with the corporate media and he seems as shallow as everyone else in the commentariat. What you see as asking questions and wanting to address the problems are to me just the same old shit repackaged for the gullible.

The main problem this will have isn’t the end of super blogging but the realities on the ground, i.e. if your standard of living is getting worse repackaging the same old shit won’t address this.

Anonymous said...

"Byline? Who cares."

Ouch. Tend to agree, though. I'm not going to name names, but one or two figures connected with that outfit have seriously over-inflated views of themselves. And their target audience appears to consist purely of people who obsessively hate the Daily Mail and would retweet a shopping list if it had "Teh Daily Fail is teh evulz" handwritten by a Byline author at the top. Weird bunch.

Shai Masot said...

Had a quick look at the site. It's full of complete bullshit.

Blissex said...

«if your standard of living is getting worse repackaging the same old shit won’t address this.»

Sure, but the people whose living standards are falling tend to not vote or to vote in safe seats, and contrary to the claims of "austerity", a large minority of english voters have enjoyed growing, even booming, living standards, thanks to bigger rents for themselves and lower wages for the rest.

Fortunately turnout has improved a bit in the 2017 elections and votes wasted on minor parties have come back to Labour, because it became again Labour.

But the complication remains of Old Labour creating a class of mini-rentiers after ensuring that its working-class member did well enough to buy a house and get a good pension. Mandelsonianism is not the answer, but a good think is still needed.