Friday, 20 June 2008

Left blogs: the 'top 25' revisited

Every year, for at least two years, Iain Dale, the original Stakhanovite of Tory bloggers, has produced a Guide to Political Blogging. It includes his Top 100 Left of Centre Blogs. It’s a semi-randomly assembled selection of the good, the bad and Iain’s mates, in large part, and it seems to be based on an assumption that left of centre politics begins and ends with the Labour Party. But we all love lists, don’t we, and with a new one due out from Iain this autumn I thought I'd get my retaliation in first and do a mid-term review of the Top 25 he listed the last time around. I might get around to reviewing the other 75 if I don’t make too many enemies from the first lot.

Note that the second number against the blogs on the list here denotes their 2006 position. Two dashes means the blog was a new entry.

1-- Recess Monkey
It was an exclusive poll of Recess Monkey readers that uncovered 154 people who claim to have had full sexual intercourse with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg (not counting the 28 who indicated they had partaken of oral sex with him and the further 31 who insisted their involvement was limited to ‘heavy petting and frottage’). That’s more than five times as many as Clegg claimed in his interview with Q magazine – a revelation that makes the mucky Monkey wildly popular with the search engines.

2-7 Tom Watson MP
Tom Watson’s blogging style is concise comment and lots of links. I like it.

3-1 Kerron Cross
The ‘voice of the delectable left’, Kerron Cross reckons he’s ‘Labour’s Iain Dale but funnier’. I’m not convinced. Anyway, he recently got married and stood down as leader of the Labour group on Three Rivers District Council in order to spend more time with his family-to-be. The blog will probably go next.

4-2 Bob Piper
Bob Piper manages to combine being a ‘lifelong supporter of Aston Villa’ with following Yorkshire County Cricket Club, which is pain enough for one man. I can’t bring myself to be in any way critical of his blog.

5-3 Labour Home
A multi-author blog ‘attempting to reinvigorate the party’s base and grassroots’, Labour Home celebrated its second birthday in June 2008. Despite its youth it still feels old and wrinkly with a masthead design from circa 1987.

6-17 Bloggers 4 Labour
Has the most facile political slogan in the business on its masthead, ‘Forward not Back’, but it’s still the place to go for Labour bloggers. Its blogroll claimed 429 affiliated Labour blogs at 23 May 2008. Of these, 209 hadn’t been active for at least two months, though, and only 144 had posted anything in the previous week.

7-32 Newer Labour
Now headed ‘New Direction. Choose Change. Beyond the Third Way.’ That’s three slogans that run Bloggers4Labour hard in the meaningless stakes.

8-- Chris Paul's Labour of Love
Loves Labour Lost, or something like that. Sorry, there’s a good Shakespearean pun in there somewhere if only I can find it. And there’s a good blog in Chris Paul's meanderings, too, if you labour long enough.

9-8 Dave's Part
Dave Osler, formerly of the Red Pepper parish, is one of the few ‘don’t miss’ bloggers of the radical left. Talks a lot of left-wing sense, such as on crime (read him on recent gun killings, for example), always accessible – and often funny too.

10-35 Luke Akehurst
The ‘obscure Hackney councillor’ is well to what used to be called the right of the Labour Party, but he laces his (fairly predictable) opinions with a heavy dose of hard information. Particularly good on obscure local by-election results. Unfortunately, his satirical online doppelganger appears to have given up the ghost after a double act in which the real Akehurst and the Fakehurst gave an online interest to each other that they could never have achieved on their own.

11-73 Fair Deal Phil
'Phil Dilks became known as Fair Deal Phil when he led a campaign for reduced bus fares for pensioners and disabled people in the Deepings.’ You might expect that with an intro like that (and headlines like ‘Local man appears in Ken Livingstone's biography’), you’re unlikely to find much of interest here if you’re not from Lincolnshire. But the headline is self-parody and Fair Deal Phil has a lightness of touch that would make me a regular reader – if I lived in Lincolnshire.

12-- Chicken Yoghurt
Chicken Yoghurt is the blog of Brighton-based writer, Justin McKeating. It has one of the best ‘About’ lines in the blogosphere when he concludes his entry with the words: ‘He will now stop talking about myself in the third person.’ Well, it made me chuckle anyway.

13-- Paul Flynn MP
'Read my day. Solid blogging.’ This is that rare thing, an MP’s blog that makes interesting reading. The independent-minded Flynn makes a point of not including ‘party political propaganda’ on his blog, which helps. It also keeps the House of Commons thought police off his back, since MPs’ expenses may not be used for anything ‘interesting, provocative or original’, as Flynn revealed in Blogs censored.

14-- Bloggerheads
I looked in here when this ‘online marketing man gone native’ was doing a live blog on the abortion vote. There’s a lot going on but it’s not terribly well presented.

15-5 Antonia Bance
A Labour councillor for Rose Hill and Iffley ward in Oxford, Bance’s blog is mainly of interest to people living in Oxford, though her round-ups of what other bloggers are saying shows she is far from parochial in her reading. She wrote of the Dismayday election results: ‘A blog called Socialist Unity appears to think that the IWCA [Independent Working Class Association] and Greens losing in Oxford is a defeat for the left: they might think so, but it won’t be a Green or IWCA administration that turns Oxford into a living wage city. That’ll be the Labour party.’

16-- British Bullshit Foundation
‘Rather than leave the BBF lingering around - like a fart in the ether of t'interweb - I propose that we go out with a bang. Well, an online bang at any rate.’ After a ‘final’ entry in September 2007, this one-time Labour House of Commons researcher returned in January 2008 for another last fling. The afterplop, presumably.

17-9 Mars Hill
'Local Labour activist Paul Burgin's private thoughts, meanderings and odds and ends' continue to flow as freely as ever - rather too freely probably; he could do with a good editor.

18-4 Harry's Place
When it moved to a new URL, fittingly enough on Dismayday 2008, Harry’s Place ditched its old Soviet-style pastiche logo in favour of Corporate Bland. It currently features David Davis (satire, in case you were wondering). New writers and other intitiatives are promised without abandoning the blog’s original aim: ‘to provide an open forum for the democratic, secular, anti-fascist, liberal, anti-totalitarian left’. There’s only so long you can get by on slagging off George Galloway and the SWP but without Harry's vitriol towards what it sees as the Islamist fellow travellers on the left it doesn’t have an obvious raison d’etre.

19-- Ministry of Truth
Overlong and detailed postings - a light read this is not - made tolerable by the fact that, unusually among bloggers, there is original research and not merely comment.

20-- John Angliss
Gon to the great blog in the sky, by the looks of it: the attrition rate among Iain Dale's 'top bloggers' is running at about one in five. More people survived the Somme.

21-70 Three Score Years & Ten
My old friend, former left MP Harry Barnes, is still going as strong as ever at three score years and eleven. He’s also the only person I know who supports Sheffield FC.

22-- Rupa Huq
The second highest-ranking woman on the list. If there’s another reason for her being there, I’ve missed it. [12 hours later: that was a cheap shot and it's not even true. I had an attack of the Littlejohns.]

23-- Skipper
Taking your blog’s name from the fact that you used to be captain of a cricket team is a bit too old maids and John Major for my taste, but Bill Jones certainly knows how to bowl a bouncer. ‘It would take a Shakespeare to do justice to a story that combines the jealousy of Othello, the ambition of Macbeth and the indecision of Hamlet,’ is his recent verdict on Gordon Brown.

24-14 Tygerland
The author is in the process of moving to Tallinn, so this is currently a good place to go for photos of Estonia. Really.

25-- Jag Singh
Seems to have passed over at 6.13pm on 1 December 2007. Left us with the headline 'Let's celebrate mediocrity.'


a very public sociologist said...

Oh dear. If only the rate of attrition was as high among right wing bloggers. Still, here's to hoping!

Anonymous said...

Antonia Bance, Luke Akehurst, Rupa Huq - Left of centre, how?

Where are the much wider read Left blogs e.g. Lenin’s tomb and Socialist Unity

It is a list of Labour blogs. Labour is the antithesis of Left.

john g said...

Seem to remember that some of the real left blogs got a mention lower down on Dale's list but there were more omissions than inclusions. Also virtually no one from Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

pablo said...

so who should be in the top 25 then?

Harry Barnes said...

Bob Piper is also a member of Sheffield FC, although he has not yet seen them play. I have just purchased a season ticket at the concessionary rate of £20 and even with a stick I can walk to the ground. It costs me a bit more (in cash and effort) to see my first love Sunderland play.

Compass Youth Group said...

Harsh words Steve. Harsh words. :op

"It is a list of Labour blogs. Labour is the antithesis of Left."

Abandoning the old bourgeois workers' party thesis now then, I suppose?

Steve Platt said...

For the avoidance of any doubt, the words 'It is a list of Labour blogs. Labour is the antithesis of Left' are those of southpawpunch, not mine.

I would never capitalise 'left' ...

Darren said...


but I just wrote a similar type of post but instead I used Andy Newman's top 101 left blogs post from late last year:

People Just Want To Dream

No critiques please. I know that with my blog an empty pot rattles loudest. ;-)

david cheadle said...

I would be seriously interested in what people think should be in the top left-of-centre blog charts? Apart from Comment is Free bloggers, that is. Any nominations, including your own if you must.

tom p said...

I thought the "fake" Luke Akehurst *was* Luke Akehurst. Now I don't know which one is which.

Good left bloggers? Paul Anderson is usually worth a read and I like the bust-ups on Socialist Unity and Harry's Place.

Darren said...

"I would be seriously interested in what people think should be in the top left-of-centre blog charts? "

I'm sure that Iain Dale will once again inform us at the end of the year. ;-)

carnival of socialism said...

Carnival of Socialism

Anonymous said...

Hello Steve, good to see this blog. I think I last saw you on a Criminal Justice Bill demo circa 1993. Anyway, any chance of a link, for a reciprocal of course? Yours tokenistically - Rupa

Steve Platt said...

Hi Rupa. Now I'm squirming with virtual embarrassment. I'm clearly not cut out to be an acerbic online commmentator ...

Ah, the Criminal Justice Bill. When you didn't need David Davis to lead the civil libertarian charge. I was a lot older then - you wouldn't recognise me now.

Yes, of course, I'll link - will do it now - totally untokenistically.

PS Joan Armatrading and Val Singleton? Must try that one!

Bloggers4Labour said...

Hi, thanks for the mention.

Has the most facile political slogan in the business on its masthead

I guess you're referring to the Labour "Forward not Back" logo, which dates from Feb 2005 or thereabouts. Must get around to changing it someday.

Paul Burgin said...

Thanks for the mention, although I am diverse for a reason

Harry Barnes said...

I am still blogging over 10 years later.