I noted with interest that the Scottish Green Party’s MSPs have set up a bright new blog, already chock full of substantial posts. With a domain name of http://www.greenmsps.org/, there is little doubt that ‘The Editor’ has more than half an eye on several scribes joining the team (and the Holyrood chamber) from next May. For now though, Patrick Harvie and Robin Harper will be shouldering the responsibility and with a posting rate of about 3/week, the signs are looking good for a consistently updated website from those at the front line and a much needed shot in the arm for political online content for Scotland in general.
There’s something unmistakably pleasing about the sight of two MSPs freely speaking their minds, particularly when so many politicians are terrified of saying something untoward in public and facing the genuine wrath of party whips or the faux-outrage of newspaper journalists. A free flowing blog direct from the fingers of our representatives is certainly an improvement on the strangled messages that emanate from the tightly-controlled press release sections of party websites or the individual MSP blogs that bizarrely talk about themselves in the third person.
Openness is to be rewarded and I hope this new site goes from strength to strength. It is worth noting that last week was the week that Sweden celebrated the ultimate in political openness with ‘Almedalsveckan’ where party leaders, party members, journalists, unions, bloggers and you name it from all parts of the political spectrum come together on the island of Gotland for a week of political debates and events. It would be nice if Scotland could follow suit and have something similar. The only suggestion to that end that I have ever heard of came from (surprise surprise) a Green party member. Despite their lowly number, in many regards they lead a chasing pack and this website could be one such example.
With blogging not exactly being flavour of the month at the moment, not to mention an eyebrow-raising link between Labour bloggers hanging up their keyboards and Iain Gray “almost spitting the word ‘bloggers’ out at Conference”, it is understandable to ruminate on the future of the medium that was not so long ago held up as the next great contributor to political discussion. It may yet be of course, it may yet be but if the direction of travel is anything at the moment it is backwards, though hopefully only because someone has left the handbrake off and is nothing that a good hill-start won’t fix in due course.
So while I’m on it, I note that on some blogs it is time once again to look inwards rather than outwards with the navel-gazing blognation conversation beginning in earnest, a conversation that I was keen to involve myself in but, somewhat ironically given the subject matter, I couldn’t really be bothered in the end. That’s not to cheapen the debate so far as primarily showcased in the excellent posts from Stuart and Will but rather just a reflection of my own blogging malaise of late. London man, it’ll gobble you up with little to show for if you’re not careful.
That said, while a slight breeze deigns to swell my blogging sail, I have to say that there’s no reason why the sum of the MacBlogosphere parts should be an important or even minor player on the great stage of Scottish Politics, it needs to earn that position and, for me, is way off course at the moment. Will encouragingingly asserts that the MacBlogosphere will always carry on in some form but one person going for a walk does not make a march. Quality will always be key and with newspapers having time, money and resource to devote to rolling news, rolling comment and rolling blogs, there is a squeeze on those of us with jobs to satisfy and unreliable enthusiasm that shouldn’t be ignored. An autonomous collection of blogs is impregnable but not impenetrable. I won’t go on as that would undermine my opinion that it doesn’t matter anyway, as long as whoever blogs enjoys what they do and doesn’t let the pressure to post constantly (or win Iain Dale votes for that matter) spoil a day to day hobby for what it is.
But back to political parties online and the sack race that it seems to be. When it comes to new media, it is the SNP that had been widely tipped to be leading the way but with many of their number staring at their shoes, the Lib Dems still in a bit of shock, Labour quietly exiting stage left and the Tories nowhere, the Greens now seem to be setting the pace. Examples abound from their Head of Media happily, wittily, enticingly tweeting FMQs in real-time, their MSPs punching beyond their number online and the party members in general providing the new energy with quality blogs either sprouting up or proving sustainable, they certainly have the momentum.