Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Liberal/Socialist divide...

... is illustrated neatly in this Evening Standard piece on political blogging (found via Guido). [Emphasis mine.]
The right still dominates ... But the left has mounted a fightback thanks to the generous cheque books of the trade unions, which fund sites such as the policy-heavy Left Foot Forward, set up by former Treasury spinner and political heir Will Straw (Jack Straw's son), as well as the irreverent lefty gossip blog Political Scrapbook.

When Ed Miliband was putting together his office after winning the Labour leadership, one of his first appointments was Alex Smith, ex- editor of the union-funded site LabourList, set up in 2008 by the former Labour spin doctor Derek Draper.

We liberals and libertarians write our pieces and, if they are good and people read them, then we might get money from people who willingly advertise with us.

Conversely, those on the Left take fat cheques from vested interests before they even start—and then must ensure that their political paymasters are happy. And, just as in Ed Miliband's case, the political paymasters are all too often the unions.

Interesting, eh?

UPDATE: johnb points out that this is a totally flippant suggestion.
Not sure that's a fair comparison. People on the left like Chris Dillow and I write for the reasons you suggest; meanwhile on the right, the ASI and the TPA are heavily funded by political donors who dictate the direction of content.

Well, yes and no. First, the Standard article does concern itself with the higher-traffic, politically influential end of the blogging spectrum—and the Lefty blogs that said piece mentions fit into that category.

Second, I would class John B as a liberal, rather than a socialist.

Third, the ASI and the TPA are not primarily blogging entities: they are political think-tanks that just happen to run blogs. By comparison, LabourList, Left Foot Forward or Political Scrapbook are primarily blogs—not think-tanks.

4 comments:

john b said...

Not sure that's a fair comparison. People on the left like Chris Dillow and I write for the reasons you suggest; meanwhile on the right, the ASI and the TPA are heavily funded by political donors who dictate the direction of content.

MatGB said...

I think you're both right, to an extent, although it's obviously self selecting. Liberal Conspiracy is a 'liberal-left' site, and it for ages was paid for by Sunny and Robert, it's now funded by advertising revenue, and while it can at times veer a bit too much towards the authoritarian and/or stupid left at times (hello Mr Murphy) it's broadly liberal, even on an off day Sunny's not going to cross over into the 'state-should'run-everything' line.

I can't, though, think of any right wing authoritarian blogs apart from Dorries, who we know definitely doesn't pay for her blog out of the funding for the rest of her website, because she's been told not to do that.

But is there a distinction between someone wanting to do something and setting up/seeking funding for something, and the unions wanting something done and hiring someone to do it? I've toyed with the idea of putting a bid in to fund a site with some of the liberal/reform minded funds/donors, would that be a bad thing?

But I had no idea that PSbook was funded, I knew it was obviously biased and straw clutching on occasions, but not that it was propped up on union money.

MatGB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Worstall said...

And as to the ASI site: I've been blogging there for years and never, never ever, have I been told what to write about not instructed upon a spin or angle.

I have had a couple of pieces not published because I've written on something that someone else has done, that was in the publishing queue before I wrote, but other than that, there just is no direction of the type that JohnB is alleging.

There's less "direction" there than there is in the comment pages of the newspapers.