Iain Dale is to be congratulated for highlighting the woeful failure of the left of centre in British politics to exploit the blogosphere. Of the top twenty political blogs featured in the Guide to Political Blogging 2007-8 , fourteen are from the right of centre and only two from the left.
Of even greater concern is the absence of any defining figures on the mainstream left to bridge the gap between "blogging and the traditional media".
Dale’s guide ranks the top 500 political blogs and as he observes with some justification, the "right of centre blogosphere" is in "a rude state of health" with not a single left wing blog having a mass readership anything like the size of the top seven or eight on the right.
While Dale admits that the political blogosphere in Britain lags far behind that in the USA, where blogs have broken "huge media stories", he perhaps does not go far enough in acknowledging the importance which the mainstream media now attaches to blogs on the right because of their ability to reach a wide cross section of the Conservative Party.
Dale ( Iain Dale’s Diary www.iaindale.blogspot.com ), Tim Montgomerie
(Conservative Home www.conservativehome.com ) and Guido Fawkes ( Guido Fawkes www.order-order.com ) have established themselves as high profile political pundits whose views are regularly sought by newspapers and radio and television programmes because, as they can rightly claim, their blogs have become part of the political dialogue on the right.
Although the right of centre blogosphere is "more diverse, radical and influential" than its left of centre counterpart, Dale detects signs of it "coming to life" and he predicts another three or four blogs from the left might make it into the top twenty next year.
In one of the essays in the guide, David Osler, whose blog (Dave’s Part www.davidosler.com ) is ranked ninth in the top 100 Labour blogs, says he accepts that "sitting in front of a keyboard is no substitute for political activity" but the blog audience is now considerably larger than the attendance at any public meeting the left is capable of organising and he thinks the left is "foolish not to try to engage with it".
Jon Worth ( www.blog.jonworth.eu ), who was web manager for Harriet Harman’s deputy leadership website, highlights the lack of any defining figures in the Labour blogosphere with a degree of integrity and Conor Ryan ( Conor’s Commentary www.conorfryan.blogspot.com ), former political adviser to David Blunkett, finds that his blog allows him to make a far stronger personal statement than he achieved with any newspaper article or ministerial minute.
Guide to Political Blogging, Iain Dale, Harriman House Ltd. £12.99