“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Congrats Bob.

with 13 comments

What do Prescott, Campbell and Harris have in common?

No, it is not a trick question about New Labour bigwigs and lickspittles.

They are, according to Iain Dale’s top blog listing, major bloggers and number 28th, 4th and 1st respectively.

I don’t want to start a blog war, but I confess that reading their work for the first time I can’t see why that the mutterings of an ex-deputy PM, a born Machiavellian and the Honourable member for Glasgow South are particularly notable.

I am sure there are plenty of other interesting political blogs not run by ex-politicians, professional seat warmers at Westminster or paid party officials, but Dale’s listing doesn’t convey that.

Still, I am glad to see that a few of my favourites made it into blog stardom, Bob from Brockley in at 47, The Daily (Maybe) in at 10 and A Very Public Sociologist beating most Blairite/Brown nosers in to 12th place.

And finally at 13, lucky for Dave Osler.

Oh, around the corner is Martin Bright coming in at 95, worth a read, he’s smart and thoughtful.

Update 1: I thought Andy Newman’s comment rather funny, and even insightful:

However, what is signally missing from this list is much sign of the blogs being used as a forum for strategic thinking by Labour Party members. Think back into the party’s past of how various publications provided the sounding board for new ideas when there was a crisis, for example how the magazine Voice of the Unions provided a catalyst for the left of the party to outgrow the social conservatism and legacy of Bevanite corporatism during the 1960s, or how the journal Socialist Commentary in the late 1940s allowed revisionist ideas to coalesce before their more high-profile publication in the New Fabian Essays in 1952.

The Blairite paradigm has been damaged but not yet decisively defeated, and yet there is very little evaluation and discussion about how a progressive centre left government could do things differently. For sure, the Compass website publishes articles with such an agenda, but the debate is very sterile, and the admirable Soundings magazine has not developed an engaging on-line presence. The fundamentalist left, around Labour Briefing and the LRC come over to me as a reenactment society, entrenched around maverick MPs like John McDonnell, and yet have no strategy for widening their influence in the party, nor any credible argument for how a move to the left would benefit the whole party in electoral terms – surely there comes a point when their desperate rear-guard defence of Bennism has to face facts that society has moved on, and left them behind.

Update 2:
I am not too sure that Tory Team Dale actually check out the blogs they list, because being a bit lazy before I just cut’n’pasted Dave Olser’s link to the post, but its the wrong one. is his new address, since November 26, 2006, which suggests either the Tories compiling this list are slightly lazier than I (highly probable), or they couldn’t be arsed to check their own work. Still with Tories anything is possible.

Written by modernityblog

15/09/2009 at 22:00

13 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the kind words.

    I must admit I don’t often visit your blog.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but the way you argue so tenanciously on the comments threads of other blogs led me to think you own blog might be a bit of a rant space.

    But actualy I have been pleasantly suprised. Iit is a good blog, I have read back through the last couple of months, and I particularly liked the way you brought all the stores together over the Swedish blood libel issue.

    andy newman

    16/09/2009 at 10:41

  2. Thanks for that Andy,

    I rarely rant on my blog, I am not too good at monologues, and it is impolite at 3am in the morning 🙂

    That was a good article of yours, I have for years been trying to figure out the LRC, and this summed them up perfectly:

    “The fundamentalist left, around Labour Briefing and the LRC come over to me as a reenactment society,

    good luck 🙂


    16/09/2009 at 13:16

  3. Kind words from Andy: far more valuable than Iain Dale’s dubious accolades!


    16/09/2009 at 13:46

  4. he he ha,

    Ahh, Bob I wish I had thought of that !


    16/09/2009 at 13:53

  5. I think it’s unfair to cast the LRC in such a negative light. They are good people trying to fight the good fight. But they are trapped between two mentalities: one, forward looking, engages with the Left outside of Labour and attempts to engineer opportunities to work together. The other mentality allows this to happen in the vain hope that such groups will voluntarily put themselves back under the sway of a universally dominant Labour Party bureaucracy that still finds the Blairite-Brownite paradigms appealing. That second mentality itself is die-hard, fundamentalist, and perhaps irredeemably confined inside Labour – but let’s not count our chickens. Action on the part of the class has all sorts of unforeseen consequences.

    Dave Semple

    16/09/2009 at 20:04

  6. Not sure it is such a negative light, and I am sure they are very nice people, but Andy Newman makes a very strong political point concerning the lack of

    “a forum for strategic thinking by Labour Party members.”

    I don’t have many problems with the LRC, as such, but they come across as “a reenactment society”

    I doubt if we didn’t follow Labour politics, that we wouldn’t know they even existed, and they are probably nice people too.


    16/09/2009 at 20:46

  7. The LRC has made efforts to provide such a forum, such as the Convention of the Left, which was really my point; they’re not a re-enactment society, and I don’t see how they can come across as such. Indeed the quip by Andy about Bennism, particularly the ‘electoral’ bit, buys into the New Labour line that anyone to the Left of, say, Jon Cruddas in the Labour Party is an historical curiosity – and such a conception is unworthy of him and the rest of us. Which is why I said I think it’s unfair to cast the LRC in such a negative light.

    Incidentally, if we didn’t follow Labour Politics we wouldn’t know anything about any of the internal groupings of the Party, beyond the currently dominant one. That doesn’t say anything about whether or not they are or can be a forum for strategic thinking or about whether or not they are or appear as a re-enactment society.

    Dave Semple

    16/09/2009 at 21:16

  8. Convention of the Left?? I don’t keep up with all the behind the scenes activities (other than to read SU blog which is invaluable in that respect), but are “they” really behind it or just one of many parties doing things?

    Well, of course, literally speaking the LRC are not “a reenactment society” but from the outside that’s how it could be seen by others.

    My point about “if we didn’t follow Labour politics” is an obvious one, that outside the LP (or the upper reaches of the TUs) I doubt anyone has heard of the LRC.

    Now that can be explained away but they don’t seem to have much impact, I wonder if they provide more a social function than anything, but I’m not a sociologist so can’t judge.

    They seem very nice people, just rather ineffective, which is not their fault, more Blair’s decimation of the LP.

    btw, what is the LRC membership? 2000? 3000?


    16/09/2009 at 21:37

  9. No idea – but the have the affiliation of a bunch of union branches and CLPs, so I suspect their active membership is somewhere below a hundred people not including the (now inactive, but once relatively active) youth branch, the Socialist Youth Network.

    Dave Semple

    16/09/2009 at 23:45

  10. 100 people in an organization of what?

    180,000 members? But even supposing it were 180 or 1800, that still wouldn’t be very high as a percentage of total members, would it?

    Nothing to write home about eh? Less than 0.1%


    16/09/2009 at 23:52

  11. I did say active membership, not total membership; I can judge the former from having been to different events, but cannot even guess at the latter which is nominally much higher.

    Dave Semple

    17/09/2009 at 08:50

  12. […] for strategic thinking The release of Iain Dale’s top 100 Labour blogs has provoked some eager discussion around the blogosphere as to the character of the list and how this reflects upon the […]

  13. How is John McDonnell MP a ‘maverick’? He consistently votes for socialist policies. Who is this Andy Newman? never heard of him . . .

    Someone like Kate Hoey is a maverick – anti-privatisation, anti-war, xenophobic and pro-fox hunting – that’s a maverick


    18/09/2009 at 16:41

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