I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now, although I’ve only been doing so in earnest from around the time of the General Election.
In many respects, it’s been a truly liberating experience. Blogging represents an opportunity for self-expression, to release frustrations and also serves as an outlet for my...er...creativity.
As you may have noticed, my posts have become more regular over the last three months or so. The reason for this is simple: when I started blogging I wasn’t sure how good an idea it was, whether anyone would actually take the time to read it and whether it would in fact serve any positive purpose other than its therapeutic benefits on my part. Blogging started off as an occasional indulgence, which has since grown on me as time progressed.
It's not that I necessarily want to be noticed. I'm not that narcissistic. I don't imagine for a minute that there are many people out there who care one way or the other what I think. But I would like to contribute something to political discussion and promote liberalism - something which is not altogether easy when you live in a safe Labour constituency.
I enjoy writing. In fact, I love writing. I don’t envy people who write to live – I live to write. Looking at other Scottish blogs I was particularly impressed by some of the political blogs – notably Caron’s Musings, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, Lalland’s Peat Worrier and Go Lassie Go. These bloggers are so diverse and clearly write for different audiences, but they can be far more insightful than many political commentators and clearly offer perspectives the national media can not. I did not set out to emulate them, but felt that I could contribute something to Scotland’s expanding blogosphere and decided to create a blog in my own image.
I hope A Scottish Liberal not only addresses pertinent issues in Scottish, UK and world politics, but also communicates something of my own character and personality. I might not be as creative or as prolific as Caron. I am not as entertaining as Lalland’s Peat Worrier. And I genuinely envy the extraordinary journalistic ability of Joan McAlpine, even if I don’t always share her perspectives. But I trust that I am able to provide a slightly different take on matters – particularly on those (admittedly rare) occasions when I focus on local issues in Inverclyde – and allow readers to “eat at my table”, figuratively speaking of course.
My own view is that bloggers are online journalists and should be considered as such. Evidently, the quality of such journalism varies widely – but that isn’t the point. I can imagine that over the coming years the role of the political blog will broaden and become more socially significant as the public come to regard bloggers more seriously. I hope to be a part of this network of “new media”, and would invite others to come with me.
Perhaps the best part of blogging has been the way in which it has allowed me to connect with people in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. People I regard now as friends I have met through A Scottish Liberal. More significantly in recent weeks I have been humbled and delighted in equal measure by the number of people from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, the UAE, Jordan and Bahrain who have been reading my posts on events in North Africa. Whether these people take inspiration from my writing, I don’t know. What I do know is that literally a few weeks ago it would have been impossible for people in Egypt and Tunisia to have read anything online that was remotely critical of the regime – and yet now there are Egyptians and other North Africans and Arabs taking time to read my own thoughts on their struggle. It is sobering to say the least.
There’s a negative side to blogging of course. There’s only so much of being blamed for Nick Clegg’s supposed duplicity that I can really take! And it causes marital tensions too. Seriously! Apparently, I spend too long in front of a computer screen. Not to mention that my wife gets very angry at some of the websites I look at as part of my research, which she tells me are a corrupting influence. You know the kind of websites I mean. I tell her that it’s important to get a broader perspective and that I have to read Conservative Home and John Redwood’s Diary, but she doesn’t seem to understand.
It’s also nice to get a bit of encouragement now and again. Quite honestly, it can be quite depressing when you put a fair amount of energy and thought into a piece that no-one seems to be sufficiently appreciative to leave so much as a comment. A bit more feedback would be welcome.
There is a lot more to life than blogging. There’s also a lot more to life than politics. But just as I came to realise in my late teens that my political identity was a key part of my personal make-up, so too blogging is now an integral part of my life. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.