Friday, September 26, 2008

More on how blogs aren't always a useful political tool

Sunny Hundal said this: A while ago, I said pretty-well the opposite here and followed it up a few months later here.

I do think that Sunny labours under a misapprehension about what 'winning the debate' is all about. Is it about being right among your peer group? I think that one of the most common misapprehensions around is that people believe that their political peer group is much much bigger than it is. I think such groups rarely number more than two or three people in reality.

The 'everyone agrees with me' fallacy.

Winning arguments? Nah. Only convincing yourself. There is the other sort of 'winning arguments' - appealing to your opponents fears, mustering forces that your they can't resist, and so on. This doesn't happen in blog comments boxes, and activists don't usually do it by 'winning arguments' or 'having a debate'. And if this is true, I can't see that Sunny has any points left.

Another thing: There are loads of Tory bloggers, all creating a cacophony. The moment that the Tories find themselves in trouble with the pollsters, these bloggers will become a liability. We, in the Labour Party once had a 'lively internal debate in which activists could Have Their Say. It was in the 1980s. I was there. It was absolutely fucking awful.

Labour does not need lefty bloggers to achieve what righty bloggers are achieving. Quite the opposite. There *is* a role for the left-blogosphere though. It's based upon an understanding of how political parties should organise themselves in the context of strong independent representatives.

Our role should be that we can provide a good, high-quality conversation that elected Labour representatives can eavesdrop upon. We don't have to involve the party in this or discuss it with them at all. It is, actually, what we are doing at the moment (when we aren't twatting on about the irrelevances of court politics).

And this - twatting on about court politics - is largely what Tory bloggers are doing - almost exclusively. Lefty-bloggers will do a better job than their opponents - as long as they don't heed siren calls to somehow imagine that a blog can be a useful activist tool.


Will said...

far too kind.

snowflake5 said...

Hmm interesting point of view. I think it depends very much on where you get your traffic from. You are quite right when you say that talking to other activists (even opposition activists) makes no difference in winning votes, because the activist population is so small.

However, some of us get most of our traffic from Google. Loads of people search for info and look at the articles posted on oil consumption, debt as a % of GDP and other policy/factual stuff. Most of those Googlers are voters (that's why they are using Google rather than Bloggers4Labour). I think putting factual information out there really helps to counter the fibs posted by the Tories, especially if our article are ranked higher in Google than Tory articles.

BTW regarding Google ranking, I wish Labour bloggers wouldn't link to Tory sites such as Dale or Guido. It just gives them higher authority on Google, which means that if they do an article on the economy and we do one, theirs ranks higher and the voter is more likely to click their's. Of course the Tories are aware of this, which is why Dale does his annual blog ranking contest - it's just a ruse to get the whole blogosphere to put up badges linking to his blog, which ends up giving him "link-juice" as far as Google is concerned. I think our Labour people are very naive about search engine optimisation.