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.

47 Responses to “2010: The year of the left blogosphere?”

  1. Anton Vowl

    There are a lot of rather good blogs that are on the left, popular and nothing to do with Labour. You mention some here but I find the likes of Left Outside so much more interesting than listening to MPs waffle away with the same old guff in a different medium.

  2. Silent Hunter

    Perhaps the Left are quieter because they have so little to point to that is good in Britain today; and that’s after 12 years of a Labour Government being in power.

    One question:

    Tell me this Will; when was the last time a Labour Government left power with the country in a better state than when they inherited it?

    In my lifetime there have been 2 Labour Governments, Wilsons, (then Callaghans) and Blairs (now Browns) and in both events, the economy has been left in a parlous state.

    Do you really think that any amount of “left blogging” can hide those inconvenient truths?

    You and your Dad need to face facts – IT’S OVER !

    God knows what the Tories will be like but at least they won’t be the most disappointingly Corrupt & Sleazy Labour Party there has ever been. For their abject CORRUPTION in Government; Labour deserve to be annihilated at the General Election.

  3. Avatar photo


    Anton – I quite agree. Your site, The Enemies of Reason, is chief among them. But I think Harris and Watson both avoid the usual guff and offer something distinctive.

    Silent – Which indicators are you talking about? In 1997, GDP was £830bn and now stands a little under £1,448bn in 2008. The recession will bring it down in 2009 but that’s still a hell of an improvement. Public services are in a much better state across a whole series of measures than they were in 1997 while hundreds of thousands of people have been lifted out of poverty. Meanwhile, GDP rose across the course of the 1945-51, 1964-70 and 1974-79 governments. You’ll point, I’m sure to the depreciations and strikes of the past. But I could equally point to the double digit inflation of Heath’s 1970-74 government or the double recession and spiralling inequality of 1979-97. Hardly economic success stories.

    This is not to gloss over the current economic predicament (due in large part to the neoliberal consensus of the last 30 years which put market power and financial innovation on a pedestal with undue influence over economic decision making). But the impact of this recession on jobs has been much lower than it might have been because of the action taken by the government.

    The role of left (and right) blogging is to expose the received wisdom, challenge politicians to be more honest, and analyse policies and speeches as they happen. Surely this is to be encouraged.

  4. Silent Hunter


    Yes very good – now stack that against the National Debt.


    Ten years ago today, on 23 August, the UK had generated enough GDP to cover its outstanding amount of consumer debt. This year the country will run out of time to do so and have to wait until January 5 next year, using proceeds from 2008 to cover this year’s debt. This is a further example of how, over recent years, the country has gorged on relatively cheap borrowing and fuelled its debt levels, according to new research issued today by Grant Thornton’s personal insolvency practice.

    And the numbers . . . !

    Grant Thornton research shows that the total amount of outstanding UK consumer debt, £1,345 billion, amassed through mortgages, loans and credit card balances, has now exceeded the amount generated by the UK economy which, according to the latest available data, is estimated to have stood at around £1,330 billion.

    The scale of individual debt has increased sharply over recent times. By the end of June 2007, total lending to individuals reached £1,345 billion, of which 84% or £1,131 billion was mortgage lending and the remainder £214 billion was consumer credit (of which £54 billion was secured on credit cards).

    Table: Total individual debts (£ billion)

    1997 (to May) 2007 (to June)
    Secured on dwellings 419 1,131
    Consumer credit 84 214
    Total 503 1,345

    Source: Bank of England

    So; not quite so rosy as you make out then!

    As for hundreds of thousands “lifted out of poverty” – I assume that you have conveniently forgotten the SIX MILLION low earners plunged back into poverty by the 10p tax debacle?
    That rather changes things eh? Will.

    I have no need to point out the Winter of Discontent – unlike you, I lived through it. I remember the mess the last Labour Government left to be cleared up by the next administration.

    As for Edward Heath, well forgive me, but I think you will have to admit that that particular ‘recession’ rather looks like a sunny, summers day by comparison to the £860 BILLION debt that this Labour Government has presided over.

    But as you seem more concerned with trotting out the same old Tractor Production Statistical crap that Labour are despised for – impact of the recession on jobs etc – well I could say that’s rather difficult to either prove or disprove – rather like me saying that “had we got a Green Government in 2005, we might be hitting our Kyoto targets” . . . it’s meaningless. But then again, so much of the Goebbels-esque pronouncements from the Downing Street Bunker are meaningless now.

    I do however, agree that challenging politicians to be more honest is to be encouraged – but as the son of a Cabinet Minister, I suspect that you are the last person to provide it.

  5. Tory Stories

    @LeftFootFwd on "Will 2010 be the year of the left blogosphere?" http://bit.ly/63A8GC

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