As Iain Dale stops blogging, how is the Right doing online?
Earlier today Iain Dale announced that he was stopping blogging. He promises to write sometimes on a new site that he's launching in the new year but it will be occasional. Iain will readily admit that his blog hasn't been operating at full speed for some time. His energies have been devoted to Total Politics, Biteback Publishing and his LBC evening radio show. Iain has become a major mainstream media success and despite his phenomenal work rate he can't do everything and his blog has had to make way for these other things. I wish him good luck and have a suspicion that, within six months, he might miss blogging more than he thinks.
Iain's retirement from blogging coincides with the end of ToryBear. Mr Harry Cole has shed the blue furry costume and formally confirmed that he has been co-writing the Guido Fawkes blog and will continue to do so.
Does this mean the end of the Tory blogosphere? Or the beginning of the end? Some are asking the question.
I don't think so. I recently highlighted some new blood that is refreshing the centre right blogosphere. We'll see some churning with new people taking to the medium as others quit.
We may see group blogs like ConHome, Coffee House and Telegraph blogs becoming much more dominant. Only such blogs can easily deliver regular output.
There are two areas where I worry about the Right and the internet:
- Movement activism. The Right doesn't have anything like 38 Degrees which, last week, raised £20,000 for an anti-Osborne newspaper ad campaign. It's also collecting the hard currency of internet warfare; lots of email addresses. The era of protest against the government that is now underway should give the Left many more opportunities to grow.
- CCHQ's web effort. It was a great shame that the party's official web effort was so tame before the election. The expectation of a Tory government could and should have been used to build an internet army. Unfortunately, like with many initiatives, CCHQ did not maximise opportunities but settled into cruise mode when they were 10%+ ahead in opinion polls. I hear whispers of big initiatives to come. I hope those whispers are right. Since the election the party blog and website can go for days without proper updates and the flagship initiative of the opposition years, WebCameron, has disappeared.
Final word. Iain Dale used his farewell post to say some negative things about blogging and he's right to point to its ugly side. The backbiting, for example. But political blogging has been a very good thing overall. There are more voices. More diverse and more specialist. Think tankers, MPs and party activists have broken conventional journalists' monopoly. Conversation is more sustained. Mainstream media columnists are now factchecked, fisked and otherwise held accountable. Many comments are tedious but I learn things from ConHome readers each and everyday. Twitter has given blogging competition but the ConHome readership continues to rise (election period excepted). If we can maintain our free-to-air service as the MSM newspaper disappear behind paywalls that will only continue.