Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Scottish blogosphere should be celebrated

As I noted recently, it’s currently time for the annual Total Politics blog awards. Anyone with an interest in political blogging can, until 19th August, nominate their ten favourite blogs and bloggers – and their favourite tweeter.

There are a lot of reasons why this year’s political blog awards are exciting me in a way they haven’t previously. Firstly, this is perhaps the understandable and inevitable consequence of my own transformation into a regular blogger. Secondly, I think there is real potential for Scottish and female bloggers to do well in the Total Politics awards – thus hopefully providing an opportunity for them to gain the overdue recognition they deserve. Thirdly and finally, I see this as an opportunity for people to become more enthused about what I term the “new media” and to come to a greater appreciation of the calibre and influence of political bloggers.

I’ve already voted and nominated my ten favourite blogs, my ten preferred bloggers and the tweeter I considered the most influential. According to the rules of the poll, I’m not allowed to share the detail of how I voted as this may be interpreted as an instruction for my followers, such as I have, to vote along the same lines. But I would like to share that almost all of my nominations were from the Scottish blogosphere with some notable exceptions (one inspiring free-thinker from Woking, a female MP and my friend Stephen Glenn who apparently doesn’t really count as a Scot). The reason for this isn’t patriotism or partisan preference for things Scottish, although I admit Scottish bloggers are perhaps better positioned to speak about many of the issues nearer to home that concern me. On a personal level I engage with a number of Scottish bloggers, both from the Liberal Democrats and other parties. But the main reason I voted for so many Scottish bloggers is because we have such an abundance of blogging talent this side of Hadrian’s Wall that, aside from a few key English bloggers who genuinely enthuse me, I generally don’t feel the need to be scouring the wider blogosphere for either information or inspiration. I’m not saying that talented bloggers are confined to Scotland; simply that there are many intelligent, informed and gifted contributors closer to whom who write with clarity and conviction.

As established, I’m not going to give you a list and tell you how to vote. But if you haven’t experienced for yourself the talent pool I refer to (and, let’s be honest, many of my readers are from outwith Scotland so it’s a distinct possibility) I would like to share with you some of our Caledonian gems. Scottish politics has a distinct character and this is naturally evident in the thoughts of our political bloggers and commentators. I would also like to encourage you to vote in the Total Politics Blog Awards but – far more importantly – to use the poll as an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the blogosphere and uncover some treasures you perhaps were previously unaware of.

I’m sure everyone with the remotest interest in Scottish politics or the Liberal Democrats is aware of the famous and enormously prodigious Caron. But are you familiar with the creative and thought-provoking musings of Gordon Anderson or the equally well-considered contributions of Priggy? Similarly, Douglas McLellan offers independent and original insights into various aspects of Scottish life and politics while Gavin Hamilton, in his View from the Hills, casts a discerning eye over the city of Edinburgh and wider Scottish society. Stephen, a Northern Irish honorary Scot and Livingston supporter, maintains a Liberal Journal reflecting on a range of complex questions relating to both Scotland and Ulster and is a champion of LGBT rights. A future star within the Scottish Lib Dems is surely the Rt Hon Trouble, while a new collective blog, Wild Women, promises to be a trailblazer for liberal values and feminism.

Of course talent is not limited to my own party. I always find Labour Hame able to provide stimulating and often intellectually rigorous debate. Labour activist Duncan Hothersall is always worth listening to, with his mix of passionate advocacy for equality and wry political analysis. The SNP seems to have been unfairly blessed with a dearth of talented bloggers, but I would single out Lalland’s Peat Worrier for his intellectual and irrepressibly elegant style, not to mention his ability to review developments in an unusually original, scholarly and humorous way and Joan McAlpine whose journalistic skills are always evident in her near-poetic blogposts. Other fabulous Scottish blogs include Herald journalist Iain McWhirter’s topical updates, Better Nation and A Burdz Eye View.

I should also mention that Andrew Emmerson, while not strictly speaking Scottish, does an incredible Scottish accent. Or so I’m led to believe! All the same, he's an outstanding blogger who deserves to do well.

These are only the tip of the iceberg as far as Scottish blogging goes. These are simply some of the blogs I enjoy reading. There is of course an incredible catalogue of blogging excellence outwith Scotland and if you’re voting in the Total Politics poll I’m sure you’ll bear the many excellent English blogs in mind. The only recommendation I would make is to vote for A Scottish Liberal. But the Scottish blogosphere more generally is currently in a particularly healthy state, and this is something that should be celebrated! What about a Scottish Blogging Day?

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