This post will be of no interest to anyone who is not hugely interested in the minutiae of British political blogging, and the wankery that goes on therein… I hate writing posts like this, and I hate contaminating my own blog with them, but i can’t really see anything else to do. I would post this on Liberal Conspiracy, but I don’t have direct posting access there – everything I write for it goes through an editor… I’ll post something about comics tomorrow.
As some of you will know, I recently started to contribute a weekly ‘netcast’ to Liberal Conspiracy, a group blog to which I’ve also occasionally contributed longer posts (reposted from this blog or my old LJ, and heavily edited by the site’s owner, Sunny Hundall).
Now, a lot of Liberal Democrats are very wary of Liberal Conspiracy. The site is supposed to be a cross-party liberal left site, but many Lib Dems consider it to be a way of trying to co-opt us into Labour in some way or other – a Labour fifth column. Many Lib Dems refer to it as ‘Labour Conspiracy’, and most of the prominent people on the site *are* Labour supporters. However, I do think it is a good thing to work across party lines, and some of the Labour people on the site (Laurie Penny, for example) are decent, there are Greens on there, and non-aligned people like Debi Linton, and the presence of people like the very strongly opinionated Lib Dems (and friends of mine) Jennie Rigg and Mat Bowles keeps me reading and contributing.
But my patience is wearing thin.
Just over a week ago Liberal Conspiracy became overrun with tedious, masturbatory posts about a non-issue storm-in-a-teacup sleaze story that involved *A BLOGGER!* and therefore must be talked about at excruciating length by all other bloggers, apparently. Charlotte Gore summed up my thoughts about that pretty well. Several people started calling for the site to stop being up its own arse and actually start talking about politics, rather than blogging about bloggers blogging about bloggers blogging (and now you see why I didn’t want to post this…)
But I thought when that nonsense died down, the site would get some semblance of a reasonable editorial line again. I was wrong. In just the last few days we’ve had a post headed “Our Ethic of Progressive Blogging”, the very first line of which started “We are a group of Labour party members and supporters”. The disclaimer at the top was added later, by Jennie RIgg, who *does* speak for me at least when she says in the comments “YOU might be a collection of Labour Bloggers but I’M not, and nor are any of the other Lib Dem or Green or unaligned contributors, and this is the sort of thing that makes us feel pushed out of the theoretical “big tent” which appears to only exist as long as Labour members are the ones in charge of the tent pegs.”
This apparently made Jennie and Mat and Tez Burke and myself and the other Lib Dems who commented there ‘mindlessly tribal’. But fine – the disclaimer was added, it was an obvious crosspost, mistakes happen – though they do tend very much to happen in one direction. But Sunny Hundall is an honourable man, and he says that he genuinely wants the site to be cross-party, so let it go.
The next day we get this nasty piece of bile, an attack on a decent ex-Labour MP (a proper Old Labour MP on the Stop The War Coalition committee and so forth) for leaving the party. I actually think it’s meant to be an anti-Labour piece, but I can’t tell because it’s just complete gibberish – sub-literate nonsense written by someone who hadn’t even read the resignation letter in question. Someone thought this was worth posting to the third most-read political blog in the UK…
Then we get a post about how “It’s Time For Socialists To Rejoin The Labour Party”, which unfortunately calls to mind nothing more than a spousal abuser begging for one more chance and promising he’ll change.
And finally we get this post, which conflates the ‘progressive, liberal left’ with the Labour Party and states that there is no ‘major national poltical party’ to represent ‘progressives’, while still also going on about how much Labour has to be ‘proud’ of (he mentions increased spending on the NHS – which would be good were it not that much of it is PFI spending and much of that is actually detrimental to patient care – I’ll explain why another time, the minimum wage – an actual good policy, from twelve years ago, and Sure Start childcare, which I know little about. Hardly a record to compare with the great reforming governments of the past, even if you discount the huge negative side).
Now, at least two of these posts are ‘guest posts’, which means that it’s not as if the writer just hit ‘post’ and didn’t think about it – they had to be submitted, and someone had to look them over and say “Yes, this is what we think should be published on this site.”
It seems to me that there are two types of posts on that site. The first, and so far still the majority, though a small one, are ones by members of many parties (including Labour) arguing for various policies because they are, in the view of the writer, correct. Those posts are often worth reading, and include some of the best political writers out there.
Then there are the posts which talk about ‘positioning’ and ‘narratives’. Almost all of these advocate the same policies as the other posts, but they also claim that those policies can *only* work if implemented by the Labour party. They usually, in fact, just assume implicitly that the readers are Labour members. Many of them talk about ‘saving Labour from itself’ as if it’s up to those of us who aren’t members to join a party that has committed war crimes, removed civil liberties, taken from the poor and given to the rich, and generally spent the last 12 years acting exactly like the Tories had for the eighteen years before, because otherwise ‘the Tories will get in *and it’ll be your fault!*’
If this doesn’t change, and very, very soon, then I shall have to come to the conclusion that this is not just a series of embarassing cock-ups and stupid comments, but a calculated attempt to marginalise those of us who consider ourselves ‘liberal’ and ‘left’, but who consider that a political party has to actually do something we agree with more than once a decade to be worthy of our support.