Well done to the Lib Dem blog winners

Well done to those excellent bloggers who won the Lib Dem blog awards this year.

I have my reservations about the rather insular nature of the Lib Dem blogosphere, but I personally think the winners are very worthy and are a great example of what good Lib Dem blogs should be like.

In the coming 12 months the Lib Dem blogosphere needs to now become less navel gazing, less about talking to the converted and more about setting the agenda, positioning itself to take the attack to whoever wins the next election and less concerned with appealing to itself, more about being read by the electorate.

My readership used to be predominately Lib Dem, but I have stopped worrying about trying to get in the Lib Dem Voice "Top of the Blogs", and instead been more interested in writing something that will make non Lib Dems realise that Lib Dems can be thoroughly normal people. This is why, according to my survey of readers I conducted recently, only around half the people who read my blog are Lib Dems. I don't want to put Lib Dems off (although I am sure I have by daring to criticise some of the great and the good), but if it means getting a wider audience and a more diverse readership, then surely that is the aim of blogging ?

The People's Republic of Mortimer is a good example of a blog that straddles both camps, is popular with Lib Dems but also appeals to non Lib Dems too. Can others achieve similar success in the next 12 months ? I think so, but it will take a change of tack by some Lib Dem bloggers.

Update : I see already that I am receiving criticism from those lucky Lib Dems able to go to conference. Of course, other than being told I am wrong, no reasons or justification is given, so you will have to judge for yourself. The fact is though that Lib Dem blogs don't do well in blog awards, they are not positioned to reach outside of party circles as other blogs seem to be.


Charlotte Gore said...

Nich, it is a shame that you don't seem to get much attention or praise within the Lib Dem blogosphere itself, but you clearly do a brilliant job of acting as a sort of Ambassador for liberals in the Tory blogosphere.

I'm behind you completely in wanting to encourage this outward looking approach. Maybe you have tips or something you could share?

Norfolk Blogger said...

My theory is that we are too obsessed with each other. We seem to have become dominated by Lib Dem Voice/Lib Dem Blogs aggregated because since most Lib Dem bloggers get most of their readers via Lib Dem voice, they then try harder to appeal to Lib Dems in order to get more hits.

I personally have got tired of the same old faces who run the Lib Dem blogosphere. The same people up for awards, even if they only blog once a month, the partners and best friends of judges getting nominated when in any other competition of contest they would be excluded because they are the judges partner.

The overriding thing for me though is that the Lib Dem blogosphere can be very bland. We write too much about each other, about Doctor Who, about chit chat, which in itself is not offensive and cannot be criticised in itself. But a lot of bloggers have come to blogging via hte CIX conferencing system which the party used to support, which was very much a chatty comment based system. Manyh Lib Dem blogs are, for me, still in that frame of mind.

This though should not be a criticism of Lib Dem Voice, which is brilliant and totally necessary. But we should not all try and ape what it does, we should not all be espousing the party line through hell and high water when we know, in some cases, that we don't agree with it.

A good example is today when I have criticised Nick Clegg on private schooling. I ahve criticised him only for a Tory to come in and defend him. This kind of devils advocate style that I sometimes adopt angers some Lib Dems, but clearly it is liked by others.

Now to many I may seem to be unfair or totally wrong, but we do not have enough Lib Dem "top" blogs. Search a few big name bloggers or some of the up and coming Tory bloggers (Letters from a Tory or The Waendel Journal or The Thunderdragon or Daily Referendum) to name but four, and they never link to Lib Dems except it appears me. Why ? I think personally it is because so few stand out.

I remember reading Iain Dale's guide to blogging when I first started blogging and he said "Don't be afraid to be controversial".

A lesson we should all remember.

Charlotte Gore said...

Spot on.

Jennie said...

I can't speak for other bloggers, Nich, but a good three quarters of my readership are non-Lib Dem, although most of them are liberal in outlook. I was blogging for a loooooooooooooong time before I joined the party.

Anyway, I promise I will go into my issues with your article in due course; you are right, I shouldn't make bald assertions without backing them up. Expect a (very) full post before the end of the week: right now, though, time is pressing.

As for attending conference being "lucky" - well, not really. If a few more people had been "lucky" enough to apply to work as a steward in exchange for a free pass, I might not have to have worked two 12 hour days on my feet so far (I admit, today has been less fraught for me, but even so). We're crying out for more stewards, and it means you don't have to pay to get in. Why don't you give it a go next time?

MatGB said...

Nich, I'm far too swamped to do you the courtesy of a full response yet, as is Jennie, we're both stewarding at the conference in order to be able to afford to be here at all and thus blogging time (indeed any personal time) is limited, as Jennie has said in her reply to your comment at the post you link to. But assuming something doesn't go horribly wrong one of us will be happy to go through your article and point out where we disagree (specifically my biggest point is the 'on-message' comment given if there's one thing Jennie most certainly isn't it's on-message).

But I do find it ironic that you've linked to her and then gone on to observe "they are not positioned to reach outside of party circles as other blogs seem to be" when Jennie herself has been blogging since 2004, has a massive readership independent of the party (indeed completely independent of the political blogosphere) and crucially only joined the party 6 months ago, mostly as a result of blogging (and a little bit due to my badgering, but I only joined two years ago--again, 18 months after I started blogging).

I think you have some very good points about some Lib Dem blogs only talking to each other, but those are points that have also been made by Lynne Featherstone and others and most certainly doesn't apply to a fair number of 'us'--I only listed myself on Lib Dem blogs after Liverpool this year because I was asked to by friends, I've always written my current blog with a target audience of my (mostly completely non-partizan) friends.

And this comment took half an hour to write with about 20 interruptions, and this is a quiet patch...

Norfolk Blogger said...


Some people, like me, are effectively excluded from Lib Dem events and activities because we ahve jobs where we cannot simply take time off. I am a teacher and could never attend conference, but I thank you for your comments.

MatGB said...


[begins conference office sales pitch]

Teachers and similar are one of the specific reasons why they've changed the format for conference this year, with it starting Saturday morning and lots of major events over the weekend, with a specifically designed weekend pass allowing full rights &c.

From a pure 'sat on the desk selling passes' perspective, it's proven to be fairly popular with a variety of people.

And of course there's also the Spring conference which is a weekend affair anyway.

[/sales pitch]

Jennie said...

Could bug the FCC to move it a couple of weeks earlier and into the summer holidays, I guess, but then they'd only restructure school holidays. My dad was a teacher; I know whereof you speak. Somehow it slipped my mind that you were one too; my apologies.