2010: The year of the left blogosphere?

A spate of articles in recent days herald the growth of the left blogosphere. The next year and the general election will be make or break for many blogs.

Left Foot Forward has been quiet over the last week enjoying our Christmas break but we have come out of hibernation to highlight a few stories that relate directly to the left blogosphere.

We were very flattered by Tim Montgomerie’s piece on Sunday for Conservative Home about how the “British Left is developing better and better online products” in which he described this blog as “an intelligent blog that examines all Tory policy.” This morning, James Crabtree of Prospect has an article on Labour List trailing a longer piece in tomorrow’s New Statesman about the rise of the left blogosphere. Both pieces make several references to Left Foot Forward including describing this blog as “one of the most important nodes between the progressives and the media.”

Meanwhile, Labour List reported over Christmas that 305,000 people have visited its pages over 2009 making it the second most influential political blog of the left after Liberal Conspiracy. Both Crabtree and Montgomerie also highlight the creation of Tory Stories, a new blog from Jon Cruddas MP and Chuka Umunna (Labour PPC for Streatham), which aims to act as “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.” Alongside Next Left, Go Fourth, Alastair Campbell’s blog and the sites of Labour MPs Tom Harris and Tom Watson plus lesser known sites like Political Scrapbook, Hopi Sen, and Left Outside, the left blogosphere is looking a lot stronger at the start of 2010 than it did a year ago.

The next year and the “watershed election” in March or May will be make or break for many blogs. If a Labour defeat is followed by a leadership election it will provide a second opportunity for Left-wing sites to make their mark. How will each site compete for space with the mainstream media? What unique services will each blog offer to make them indispensible to activists, floating voters, and journalists? How will bloggers interact with one another to share interesting information while avoiding navel gazing (perhaps this article falls short on that front)? And, crucially, how will bloggers make a living if they aim, as Left Foot Forward does, to work full time?

In November, I made a speech to the Future-democracy 2009 conference in which I highlighted three areas where I felt there was potential for growth in the British blogosphere: the use of video, integration of twitter into blogging platforms, and coordination between online campaigning groups like 38 degrees and blogs. Guido Fawkes has already shown how witty/acerbic videos can reach a larger audience than 300-word blog posts while Tweetminster has innovative ideas about how to aggregate tweets.

These are exciting times to be involved in the interaction between technology and politics. The challenge is to make our blogs increasingly relevant and useful.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.