Friday, August 24, 2007

Blogs on the right

Well, we've taken the glittering prizes eh? Tory bloggers are unrivalled masters of the British blogosphere: the two most popular political blogs are conservative, and the cutting edge of blogging is wearing blue. Hurrah and well done us.
Tim Ireland is dismissive of this (although I'm damned if I'm going to spend my time searching for the true culprit that, um, hacked someone's facebook page or something), saying that
there are civilised and sensible Tory bloggers around, but there's also a bunch of cheats that misrepresent the opposition's position, let fly with the most outrageous (and all-too-predictable) abuse, manipulate comments and/or retro-moderate with shameless abandon... oh, and typically they also make good use of multiple personalities... presumably so they may better represent that silent majority we keep hearing about.
Well, yes. There are indeed wankers on the internet (on oh so many levels). Tim's long-standing problem with sock-puppets (multiple identity commenting - making it look like you've got more support than you do) has always seemed to me to be an irrelevance. Comment threads almost always degenerate into pointless juvenilia anyway, with or without help. Of more interest is the idea that the right are 'destined' to be on top in the internet stakes. I think it can be said without too much exaggeration that this is the case in the British blogosphere at the moment.
Why is this? In my opinion, and this is scarcely an original observation, it's because the left are in power. It's much easier to write a blog on offense than defense. Writing pieces on why the Government is doing the right thing is only fun when it's an exception. Continually writing pieces on why the Government are great is dull for both writer and reader. Putting that more clearly - blogging is largely an anti-establishment thing, and the left are currently the establishment.
This is temporary and reversible. Read the Goldberg file from the 1990s, and indeed the Drudge report and the Instapundit and 101 other right-leaning blogs from the Clinton era. The wisdom at the time was that the right were on top, and the Democrats were just useless at this internet thing. Spool on through two Republican presidencies and the story is the opposite - Web 2.0 is supposed to be all about the Democrats.
There's a tendency of the right to cite the old PJ O'Rourke line that the left is too earnest to be funny - the habit of saying 'there's nothing funny about ...' when clearly there is, it's just rude as well. I'm not sure, however, that has too much bearing on this debate. But the hectoring style of humour espoused by, for example, Jeremy Hardy or Mark Steel isn't very well designed for blogs - it comes across as pompous and preachy.
But ultimately, the trends of the internet will all look very different if and when a Conservative Government comes into power. After all, Ben Elton was once the scourge of the establishment, and then became it.

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