Ooh, I'm one of 'the enemy within'! According to Peter Cuthbertson at Conservative Commentary
, anyway. Some people might get offended at that description, but I'm not one of them, mainly because it's always been one of my aims in life to be described as the enemy within. Of course, as a Liberal Democrat, Socialist Workers have referred to me in the past as a 'Tory in disguise' which means I can get quite confused as to who I'm meant to be siding with. I mean, should I be applying to join the Carlton Club, or trying to burn it down?
However, when describing this site, Peter did say that 'I can't say I agreed with, well, any of it'
which makes me wonder if he read this post
and disagrees with it. If he does disagree with my belief that Mr Benn was one of the greatest ever kids' TV programmes, well, there'll be nothing for it but outright blogwar, my friend!
When he's not attacking Mr Benn (either of them), Peter does make an interesting point (no, not the one about this site having 'good writing and interesting analysis' - that's just there so I can't say I disagree with him on everything, I'm sure) which relates to my post last week about the lack of British politics
on the web. Firstly, he mentions 'the rarity of left-wing BritBlogs' and then, interestingly, 'Incidentally, I keep running into fairly well established British political weblogs and wondering how they managed to go on so long without my finding them.'
I've been thinking about this since I wrote that post last week, and I have now found some British politics weblogs, but I'd stand by my statement that the percentage of overtly political blogs is lower among British blogs than American ones (I can't speak for other countries, because I haven't seen enough blogs from there to comment accurately). However, I think I may have the beginnings of an explanation for it, partly inspired by seeing this post from Harry Steele
, where he observes that we in Britain are yet to experience the 'metablogs' - blogs that exist solely to comment (usually critically) on other blogs, a concept taken to the point of extremity by Media Whores Online Watch Watch Watch Watch
Anyway, the explanation is based on two parts of the British political psyche - firstly, that we tend not to be too personally partisan, at least within the major parties, and secondly, that politics is seen as just another part of life, rather than a life in itself. For instance, while Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians and supporters will toss insults back and forth at each other, it rarely turns into outright personal nastiness, as American discussions between political opponents can. For instance, when I've worked on elections I've got to know Conservative and Labour activists well from seeing them around campaigning, at the ballot box and in the count. While we disagree politically, we can still get on personally, and thus there isn't the namecalling and ad hominem
attacks (that characterise so many American political blogs) to base an aggressive political weblog culture on in this country.
Secondly, politics in Britain isn't seen as something that should define your whole life. Indeed, people tend to distrust politicians who don't seem to have a life outside of politics, and this applies to our 'political media' as well - for instance, both the Spectator and New Statesman have large culture/review section. So, it's natural that this is going to happen to weblogs as well - people will talk about politics in their blogs, but it will only rarely be the dominant or sole theme of a British blog. (As a sidebar, I think that's why I enjoy reading Bartcop
, as he mixes the politics with tequila, TV, films, sports etc). For example, just looking over the last few days or so, while I've written about politics, I've also discussed Mr Benn, traffic wardens giving tickets to buses, the Diana seance, the insanity of conspiracy theories and attempted to create a couple of new words.
Anyway, I've rambled on far too much about this for now. But still, let me know if you think it makes any sense.