Tag Archives: labourlist

Why is LabourList keeping silent about Tomlinson?

For the last week I’ve been critical of the rightwing blogosphere for its silence – up to the point when the Guardian revealed its video footage – about Ian Tomlinson’s death.

But there remains one other blog, which is broadly on the right but get desperately upset if you point that fact out, which has remained silent throughout. Indeed, with the Guardian story now nearly a week old it has continued to stay silent. That blog is LabourList.

What is most intriguing about this is that LabourList staffer Tom Miller has plenty to say about Tomlinson’s death – he just isn’t saying it on LabourList. Why? It isn’t as if he doesn’t contribute regularly – why is this topic off limits? By contrast The Fabians’ Next Left, which superficially you might think is just as insidery, has been commenting on the story at every stage.

Draper has spent most of the last weekend insisting to anyone who will listen that LabourList is independent of the party machine. Yet on this issue it seems to be more concerned about helpfully keeping schtum.

All this talk about ‘independence’ is a nonsense anyway. All that ‘independence’ tends to mean in politics is that it isn’t immediately apparent what one’s agenda is. It is a sign of how degraded our political discourse has become that so many people take ‘independent’ to mean ‘without agenda,’ which is why nonsenses like Jury Team get as far as they do (before self-destructing) every few years.

In the case of LabourList, ‘independent’ seems to mean ‘slavishly loyal, with the odd anti-New Labour rant to keep the proles happy, but not funded by the Labour NEC.’ I have to admit that Lib Dem Voice went through a period when it seemed afraid to be critical, but it has gratifyingly grown out of that stage. But will LabourList? Indeed, wasn’t that the whole point of it in the first place.

It will be interesting to see how long LabourList will keep up its new regimen of “ideas not smears” – thus far it has concentrated far too much on the latter and not enough on the former, as Peter Beckett on LabourList itself has pointed out.

So what is the LabourList analysis of what happened on 1 April? If they are serious about turning a new leaf, this would appear to be a good place to start.

How dominant is the “blokeosphere”?

Rowenna Davis writes about her experience as guest editor on Labour List on Comment is Free. What interests me about this experience is that while I think the so-called “blokeosphere” is out there, it isn’t universal across political blogs and, as a “bloke” bores me to tears as well. A few observations:

It is hard to see how you can infer a wider principle from LabourList. With Derek Draper at its head, LabourList is one of the most testosterone-fuelled blogs out there. It has reached its existing readership primarily by picking fights with people. I have to admit that even then I was surprised to learn that it has an all-male editorial board (and presumably will continue to have an all-male editorial board after today), but it does figure.

If you want change, you need to more than have a guest female editor for a couple of days. This was an oddly patronising way to mark International Women’s Day – bring the women out for the special occasion and then put them back in their box. LabourList has been significantly more interesting with her as editor (weirdly, I understand she isn’t a Labour Party member) than with Draper and there is every sign that we will be back to business-as-usual in the next couple of days. Indeed, with LabourWomen now established, the boys will be left to it. Only in the Labour Party is such a phenomenon seen a progress.

You can make a systemic shift – and the Lib Dem blogosphere proves it. I don’t wish to over-emphasise this as I am hardly in a position to claim to have expunged macho blogging, but eighteen months ago the Lib Dem blogosphere was as male-dominated as the Labour blogosphere. For whatever reason, it became apparent that there was a distinct increase in female bloggers, seemingly as a result of the relatively high profile blogger awards at the Autumn Conference and the excitement surrounding the leadership election. And that increase has proven itself to be relatively sustainable: the party’s top blogger is a woman, Lib Dem Voice has a good mix of men and women on its editorial team and most blog meetups that I’ve attended have been equally well balanced.

Why is this? I suspect it is a combination of the fact that a certain critical mass was reached and the fact that we talked about it. Much derided at the time, the Campaign for Gender Balance’s decision to launch its own awards in Spring 2008 helped create that dialogue. A great many women seemed to feel patronised by the awards and several men howled with outrage; as a result I (as one of the instigators) didn’t particularly push for a 2009 event. But I do think that the awards – or more precisely the debate that surrounded the awards – helped create a shift in attitudes.

There are plenty of female political bloggers out there – they just aren’t labelled as political. This is a point that Jenny Rigg makes repeatedly, and she’s absolutely right. Partly this is because of how women perceive themselves, but a lot of it is down to the different way they seem to get labelled, as opposed to men. My blog, for example, has always been a mix of politics, film, comics, television and general toss; yet I’ve always been regarded as a political blogger. As Jenny discovered, by contrast she tends to be regarded as an “other” by default and even feminism is assumed to not be political (as opposed to something to do with women’s bits).

Some of what Rowenna says is arrant nonsense. Sorry, but the idea that only Harriet Harman and other female politicians gets personally abused on the internet is simply not the case. Google “Nick Clegg” or “Menzies Campbell” if you don’t believe me. And “Cif is a good exception to the rule” of political blogs being male dominated? I don’t even follow the comments threads on my own articles on Cif because they are so full of bile and the first three comments in response to her article have been censored presumably because of their sexist content – if that is what Rowenna considers to be a feminist utopia she needs a wakeup call. It is hard to shake the impression that Rowenna is little more than a tourist when it comes to this subject and hasn’t really explored the blogosphere outside of LabourList at all.

Only an idiot would ever agree with Daniel Kawczynski

Over on LabourList, Tom Guise cites five examples which suggest that my favourite Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski is a couple of strawberry creams short of a Quality Street selection box. He could have added Kawczynski’s bizarre attack on the BBC and the “liberal elite” for waging a propaganda war against Poles (but not the Daily Mail and its swan-eating nonsense, you understand, that was all fair comment).

But the most uncanny omission of Guise’s list is Kawczynski’s utterly moronic defence of the first past the post electoral system (Kawsczynski is the chair of the All Party First Past The Post Group). I mean, seriously, only a complete cretin would think such a dreadful system which sucks pluralism and diversity out of our political system is a good idea.

Given that is proof positive for Tom’s theory and LabourList’s love of bashing Tories, I wonder why he didn’t mention it?