#ldconf podcast: The BOTY recording

by Stephen Tall on September 21, 2009

On Sunday night, I had the pleasure of hosting, for the third year, the annual Liberal Democrat ‘Blog of the Year’ awards, organised in association with Lib Dem Voice. LDV’s Alex Foster was on hand with his microphone, and you can hear the results here.

And here’s what my script said I should say:

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to tonight’s Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year Awards 2009, the fourth annual Blog of the Year – or the Lib Dem BOTYs as they’ve become affectionately known. As Shakespeare almost certainly didn’t day, ‘Be not afraid of the BOTY: some are born to receive a BOTY; some achieve a BOTY; and some have a BOTY thrust upon them’. Just ask Mark Oaten. And I’d like to thank Sarah Teather for that joke.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Stephen Tall, and I’m one of the editors of Liberal Democrat Voice – www.libdemvoice.org – the leading independent website for party supporters. Lib Dem Voice is delighted to be associated with the awards – begun by the party itself in 2006 – in order to recognise and celebrate some of the best blogging by Liberal Democrats up and down the country over the past 12 months.

And what a year it’s been, with the emergence of some fantastic new blogs, and the continuing brilliance of many old-dogs. Think of the Lib Dem blogosphere and only one word can truly sum it up: variety. We can boast

the extraordinary brevity of Alex Wilcock,
the honeyed words of James Graham
the Marxism of Charlotte Gore or
the cautious words of Irfan Ahmed

Truly the Lib Dem blogosphere is blessed.

Can I ask, how many of you here are on, or read, the Lib Dem Blogs Aggregator? To all of you who answered, can I ask you to do two things? First, tell anyone who doesn’t know about the Aggregator about it – it’s quite simply the single best way of keeping up with news and views from Lib Dems around the country. And the second thing I want you to do is this: give Ryan Cullen, the technical genius behind the Aggregator a rousing round of applause for helping to create a real sense of community and connection among all Lib Dem bloggers. Thank you, Ryan.

There are over 200 Lib Dem blogs listed on the Aggregator – and, collectively, over the past 24 hours Lib Dem bloggers have produced over 140 posts. That’s just one stat which points to the way Lib Dems punch well above our weight when it comes to online communication.

Here’s another, for all the media myth that Tories dominate the blogosphere – and actually at this point can I formally welcome Iain Dale, the well-known Tory blogger to the inner sanctum of our humble BOTYs: I hope everyone in the room will give Iain as warm a welcome as you would give to a Lib Dem leader rowing back on a tuition fees pledge – 19% of all active political bloggers with a party affiliation are Tories; and 16% are Lib Dems.

And when it comes to councillors’ blogs, Lib Dems are far more active: 2% of Labour councillors have a blog, and just 1% of Tories. But 7% of LD councillors blog. And part of the reason why LD councillors have taken a lead in this area is thanks to the Association of Lib Dem Councillors (ALDC) terrific mycouncillor.org.uk platform. On which note, may I thank – on behalf of us all – the Lib Dem group on the Local Government Association for generously sponsoring tonight’s BOTY awards.

And can I also thank our hosts the highly profitable Marriott Highcliffe Hotel for ensuring that, even armed with hundreds of pounds of sponsorship, we can still only stretch to a few bottles of luke-warm house white. Conference hotel drinks prices: there’s a candidate for savage cuts.

My penultimate thanks for tonight are to one of my fellow Lib Dem Voice editors, Helen Duffett, who has pretty much single-handedly organised tonight’s proceedings, inviting the judges to take part, collating all the nominations, counting all the votes, and then, finally, fixing the results. Sorry, finalising the results.

A word about the judging. There were nine BOTY judges. And here’s where my final thanks come in, in alphabetical order to: Tom Brake MP, Ryan Cullen, Helen Duffett, Meral Ece OBE, Lynne Featherstone MP, Alix Mortimer, me, Cat Turner and Paul Waugh.

Each of us receiving from Helen the full list of nominations: we then each, separately and individually, ranked those nominated in order of preference from 1-5: This is a voting procedure, by the way, usually referred to as ‘incredibly complicated’ by journalists when talking about proportional representation. But somehow the judges coped, and the shortlists and winners were chosen through the alternative vote. I still have no idea of the results – so am just as excited as all of you, it says here in my notes – but understand from Helen that, though the results were close, the winners were all clear-cut decisions: no recounts, no hanging chads. So we can all feel happy with the outcome. unlike the Tories in Bedford

There are six categories in tonight’s awards; inevitably, there are only six winners, among the 30 short-listed. But, genuinely and seriously, I hope everyone who’s on the short-list feels they are already a winner. And I hope all those who didn’t make it onto this year’s short-list will realise it’s the other judges’ fault, nothing to do with me.

So, without further ado, on with the 2009 BOTYs.

Not sure all that made it to the final cut – or was audible if it did.

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