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Putting together a email list of Conservative and other sympathetic bloggers should be childs play. It is also the easiest way to create a buzz around a particular story.

Blogging is difficult (I had to give up for lack of time) because you ae alwas trying to find something new to comment on. If someone at CCHQ does that job, blogging output to the right would increase.

Any work done, is infinitely scalable as the number of people with blogs increases.

Andy Coulson thinks he can do without the bloggers but one day he'll need them.

Westminster Wolf - you are right and that's why it is so important that blogging standards remain high!

"Putting together a email list of Conservative and other sympathetic bloggers should be childs play"

Yes, but email is soo last century.

It'll be interesting to see what they come up with.. I expect it would be either be more of the same but with a new design and something like "an enhanced email list"... or they will grab the new web generation technolgies by the horns and we'll get something to blow us minds!

As much as we'd like to believe that it would be an opportunity for the common member to be able to communicate with those high up in the party and level things out, I verymuch doubt that'll happen.

‘the blogosphere's audience is relatively small but they know that opinion-formers and activists are addicted to the blogs’

And lazy-brained journalists looking for shades of opinion and angles. Many here and elsewhere will have seen themselves cut and pasted into a news item with zero attribution and presented as original analysis. However naughty this may be it still counts as influence.

I knew a well known columnist/TV spod upon a time. He freely confessed to leeching from any and all sources to meet deadlines, for example, a private conversation I had in a pub with someone else that he overheard. Mind you, he bought me a pint subsequent to his ‘original’ piece in the Telegraph.

As much as I'm interested in what Cameron has to say, I prefer to read about it after some distillation. I get the CCHQ e-mails, but delete them immediately. Not really their fault, but it's just a press statement and basic propaganda.

Bloggers are required. Looking at the local media we find the local printed press is a couple of weeks behind the blogs but take the stories shamelessly.

As for a relaunch of Conservatives.com, I thought the last one wasnt too long ago?

It would be nice though if CCHQ paid attention to the emails it gets from people. Ive sent it a number of emails asking them to remove me from their list of CPF contacts yet I still get the emails even though its almost a year since I quit the Party.

Conservatives.com is a pretty tired website, although for all its ills it still makes Labour's site look stuck in the past.

I have seen many a website makeover make a complete mess of things.

You're right - activists' addiction to the blogosphere as a source of up-to-date information and incisive comment has an enormous impact on the messages which get played out on the ground.

It's almost as though it now breaks down as follows:

Traditional press = deep analysis; musing musty room
Blogs = dynamic opinion-forming; energising, pounding the street

I think the role of bloggers can be exaggerated. Most people that read blogs are supporters of that bloggers party, and those that aren't are trying to know their enemy.

Do any non-politicos read blogs? No. Are many people's votes dependent on blogs? No.

Outside blogs like this, no one knows who Iain Dale is, very few people have heard of ConservativeHome and Guido Fawkes is someone who tried to blow up parliament

That's not to defend conservatives.com, I'm sure even most of us don't read it. They're getting better at internet operations, using Facebook and video blogging, but I agree there is a way to go.

"Pre-briefing depends upon the individual shadow minister's inclination to do so."

What's new? Tory shadow ministers, and ministers, have always been unenthusiastic at explaining themselves and when they do they rarely put it in ways people appreciate.

Michael, I think your point ignores the fact people who are not bloggers might hear something and search the web for more information.

Bloggers only need to check their stats to see a continuing increase in Google, Yahoo and other search engine referrals to search terms that match information on their blogs. It is not just activists who are alighting at our blogs, but other people using technology to find information.

I see what you mean, Tony, but I can't help but think that people will look for sources they know and recognise, not an individual person's rants.

I quickly searched for "NHS spending", "tax cuts" and "grammar schools Conservatives" on Google. The results that come up are (with one exception), newspapers and other traditional media.

There may well be a time that UK blogs are like US ones in having a larger readership, but we're a long way off that now.

Why do CCHQ insist on briefing against Eric Pickles? He is the only tory who connects with voters and activists north of Watford. Perhaps the Notting Hill set feel threatened by a staright talking Yorkshireman, but the public don't. We want honesty and plain speaking.we trust Pickles, and it is about time the wonks at CCHQ came to terms with that.

It seems that CCHQ not only ignore the blogs but can't read the dead tree press either. Pickles is quoted as saying “it is now impossible for [Labour] to win the election, but it's perfectly possible for us to lose it”. That is hardly a message of complacency, more a message for the Conservative Party not to take things for granted and to win votes with real alternative policies.

The Conservative Party website is an embarrassment, it should be a portal to information and activism rather reading like a dull Intouch from another decade

Referring to voters opinions in this poll Anthony King comments in the Telegraph that
"they may not love the Tories - there are no signs that they do..."

Our lead, though very satisfactory, is a function of the voters rather delayed contempt for Labour under Brown. It is not a positive vote for us. Choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee they chose us for now as least loathsome. We are still not producing a coherent and popular message that would guarantee us support even if they ditch Brown or the oil price and interest rates come down.

Looking at the blogs and their readership numbers the leading blogs are certainly players in an increasingly fragmented media market. Blogs with more than 50,000 people reading a month should certainly be taken seriously. However it would be wrong to overestimate the value of political blogs to electoral success. I doubt if more than a handful of regular blog readers are genuine 'floating voters'. Most people I guess are as committed as I am.
However Conservatives.com could be used to enthuse members and activists and I don't think that it does that at the moment. There is no interactivity, it just acts as a propoganda site,it has no interest in me at all other than as a source of money. After a while it becomes boring to read and like other commenters I sometimes delete its emails unread.
If Conservatives.com is to be successful it has to offer its readers something that they can't find elsewhere. It should be willing to accept divergent views and opinions, it could offer live interviews with leading bigwigs even if some of the questions may be uncomfortable but most of all it should give members something back just for being a member (a draw to have lunch with a Shadow Cabinet minister ?). I think if it did this the site would be more successful, members would be more generous with their time and money and the Conservative Party would be the real winner.

There is a unexplained discrepancy between ConserrvativeHome's reporting of the figures and that of The Telegraph .

The newspaper gives the following:
Conservative 45%=n/c
Labour 26% = n/c
LibDem 16% =-1%
Others 13%= +1%

Conservative Home ---

Conservative 46%=+1%
Labour 26% = +1%
LibDem 16% =-2%
Others 12%= n/c

The percentage changes I can comprehend as one can refer to the last YouGov poll and the opther to the vlast Telegraph published YouGov poll but surely the topline figures should be the same.

In this case the difference is not significant but accuracy is nevertheless important. Can the blog explain please?

I know there is work afoot in Millbank, but I fear we caught the Government IT projectitis bug, resulting in the project being late and overbudget.

www.bluevoters.com gives you an idea of what can be achieved using the net as a cmapign tool. This is the Dems' system, automated, on-line, user-friendly.

We had some bloke sending excel spreadsheets out to people!

Christina Speight:

From the Telegraph Article linked above:

As the party conference season approaches the Conservatives are on 46 points and Labour on 26. The Liberal Democrats are on 16 points.

Perhaps the question of consistency should be targetted at the Telegraph?

Regarding The Topic:

Let's put Iain Dale's comments in context. In June Guido Posted posted that he had just over 100,000 absolutely unique visitors (computers)in May, there are 45,000,000 voters approximately in this country (voting levels are down by 6,500,000). Whichever, way you look at it, only a tiny percentage of the electorate look at political blogs and the key target electorate (swing, disillusioned & disinterested voters) likely do not.

No question, the Internet is a valuable source for those who are interested in politics and via there passing on information a valuable a way of disseminating information but it is still not going to reach the vast majority of people.

It is clear that the Internet is still a minority outlet and with the best will in the world it must make sense to prioritise focus on mainstream communications (newspapers/TV/Radio) where they can perhaps communicate with those swing, disinterested and disillusioned voters rather then expend excessive resources on the Internet preaching to the converted?

it is perhaps the case that Mr Dale has let his own interest in the Internet cloud the reality of the situation. The Internet is a growing technology, has great potential, but in political terms it is still the new kid on the block.

With all the issues out there (US Presidential Campaign, Georgia, Housing, Energy etc etc) couldn't Iain Dale have found a less self-indulgent theme for his Telegraph piece?

It suggests that a 'blogger bubble' to match the 'Westminster Bubble' is beginning to form.

Posted by: John Leonard | August 29, 2008 at 14:34

Hello John,

I refer the Right Honourable Gentleman to:

Posted by: Dorian Grape | August 29, 2008 at 09:19

The influence is the thing. Many journos are reduced by their eds and proprietors to spewing out Reuters verbatim. Blogs provide a ready resource of pre-packaged story angles and researched references and sources. Eye candy for the stressed out hacks.

The perception in scale of audience suggests that we are blogging a dead horse but in terms of influence the real story can be very different: Because a bit of blogging forms the basis of a story in the Telegraph. I have seen it happen.

Christina is quite right to point out the discrepancy - the Conservative figure is actually 45% according to YouGov's own website.

Some interesting and useful comments have appeared in this discussion.

It is particularly valuable to know that mainstream media pick up on what appears on at least some of the 'blogs, and we certainly would wish them to quote from ours rather than the opposition's.

This is where quality, insight, sources (with handy links already provided) including inside info, and timeliness are important. Not that we are here to do the journos' job for them; but if they are going to lift our material anyway...

Another point is that the activists and others who do read the 'blogs will (hopefully) gain "ammo" to use in their discussions with family, friends and work colleagues. One of the most useful tacks I take is: "If you don't believe me, check it for yourself, independently. There's a link of my (or Dale's or Guido's or wherever) site to the original document" (or whatever). It works fairly well, I find...

One thing we do need to remember is that we are not operating as the only player. Whatever the current state of other parties' own websites and their section of the blogosphere might be today, they could surprise us and suddenly leap ahead with what they are doing, just at the wrong time for us, such as just an a General Election is coming into real prospect.

We need to stay ahead and keep improving. Even humble newbie bloggers such as myself can make a valuable contribution now and then; but it will be the combination of quantity and quality of Conservative-minded 'blogs, supported by the party itself (rather than essentially ignored or even despised) in modern ways that will help those 'blogs to do an even better job.

If it already works in other countries, there is no reason it could be made a success here.

Outside blogs like this, no one knows who Iain Dale is, very few people have heard of ConservativeHome and Guido Fawkes is someone who tried to blow up parliament
Iain Dale, Tim Montgomerie and Guido Fawkes have all appeared on the national media at some point on other, not just on the Today Programme, but I seem to recall that Iain Dale was a panellist on the Richard Bacon Show not so long ago.

"Our lead, though very satisfactory, is a function of the voters rather delayed contempt for Labour under Brown. It is not a positive vote for us."

Jonathan, I don't think that's an entirely fair comment. Our policies will become clearer by the time of the election, when it comes. It would not be substantial of us to leap into the dark by making rash promises now.
We must be doing something right, or our support would still be below 40% and the LibDems would still be getting 20%-plus.

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