A Liberal Goes A Long Way – R.I.P.?

by Stephen Tall on March 1, 2008

Been a bit quiet around here lately, hasn’t it? Four and a half months, to be precise since my last posting. I could make lots of excuses… I changed jobs at the start of the year… I’m house hunting… I have enough on my plate as a councillor… etc.

But actually the real reason is both more practical and philosophical than that.

First, the practical bit. Acting as commissioning editor of Liberal Democrat Voice is a darn sight more time-consuming than I thought it would be, or, I suspect, than it looks. The theory is great. As LDV has, I guess, by some little way the largest readership among the Lib Dem blogs – over 20,000 unique visitors a month, and growing – you might imagine we’d get a steady stream of submissions from activists and MPs alike.

But it doesn’t quite work like that. What tends to happen is that we get a spurt of articles, which sometimes end up buried on top of each other, and then fallow periods, when no-one writes a sausage. Moreover – as any Editor knows – it’s one thing to commission pieces; quite another to receive them back by the deadline. The ratio of articles requested to articles published is probably something like 7:1.

Let’s turn to the philosophical bit. When I first took over at Lib Dem Voice from Rob Fenwick, back last summer, it felt a bit like I was house-sitting: it was a nice place to stay, but it didn’t seem right to make any changes, or put my own personal stamp on it. So I happily kept up both this blog, and LDV, in tandem: this place for my personal political reflections, and LDV for the more tribal party political stuff. In truth, I felt both sites suffered from my split affections.

In that sense, the leadership contest gave me the excuse I was looking for to rest this blog and focus 100% on Lib Dem Voice – which is what I’ve done since October. I’m pleased with what LDV has achieved during that time, in particular that we successfully covered the leadership contest in a neutral but not bland way, and that readership has grown even since the result was announced (I thought there would be a sharp dip). This is thanks, I should emphasise, to the whole ‘Collective’ which runs LDV, and, of course, to the many contributors to it.

But which do I enjoy more? That’s a different, and difficult, question. Lib Dem Voice has a bigger reach, within and beyond the party, than this blog would ever achieve. It’s also fun to be in e-mail correspondence with various folk, inside and outside the Lib Dems, and to invite them to submit articles on a wider variety of topics.

Those are the upsides. The downsides are that it’s not ‘mine’ – I feel more of a responsibility to the Lib Dem Voice readership than I ever did for those readers who turned up here. This is my blog, my gaff, my rules: if you don’t like it, don’t read it. You can’t have that mindset when you’re a member of a team website which is the unofficially official/independent party members’ website. Also, I write less than I used to, and with a narrower remit. This blog covered all sorts of topics – political, social, cultural – most days of the week. The content I generate for LDV is pretty much exclusively political, and usually to do with the Lib Dems. Sometimes I find that frustratingly constrained.

The question remains… what should I do with this blog? Do I officially admit defeat and shut it down? Or do I write very occasional pieces for it to keep up some pretence that it remains a ‘live’ blog?

Well, you’re my readers (if I have any left) – what do you reckon?