Iain Dale commented not long ago that British political blogging hadn’t “yet” made the inroads achieved by its counterparts in the United States. That left some of us muttering to ourselves about how that was because British political blogging wasn’t actually terribly good, and that the bloggers who did show any talent were already writers or journalists of one stripe or another.
For me, the whole value of British political blogging was in the refreshing exchanges it made possible. In the early days, 4-6 years ago, there weren’t that many of us around. Samizdata, Harry’s Place, Peter Cuthbertson, Matthew Turner, Ian at England’s Sword, and someone calling himself Junius. People of every political stripe turned up everywhere. What resulted was sometimes a dust-up, but more often refreshing and enlightening exchange.
It was only a matter of time before talkboard denizens wrecked it. The big driver here was the creation of Comment Is Free. I’ve been acquainted with one of the Graun staffers who set up CIF since he was an inquisitive schoolboy, and, without malice, there was never any possibility of their successfully importing the blog format into their online paper.
And Crooked Timber, and the rantbloggers, and then the steady division of the expanding blogosphere into party categories.
So I was delighted to hear that Blimpish had started blogging again. He’d been by far the best of the openly Tory bloggers, a wide reader and deep thinker who could write and who was willing to engage in a proper argument – if you were foolish enough to take him on, of course. It was as pointless as debating with Oliver Kamm; always that effortless outflanking, executed with grace and every proper expression of regret.
Intelligence, fine writing and polite discussion are to modern British political blogging what a wooden racquet is to modern men’s tennis. Blimpish will have to learn to swear, to post his stats, to list-post and obsess about libel. It might take him some time. But until he does, we’ll have someone to show the Americans.