Why I’m not Boycotting Total Politics’ Top Blogs Poll

Paul and Dave have called for a boycott of The Total Politics Top Blogs Poll.  Iain Dale is interviewing the Nick Griffin and they do not want their names associated with a magazine which associates with him.

The arguments for and against No Platform have been well worn. I personally wouldn’t share a platform with a Fascist but I’m not convinced that no one should. For example, I considered Griffin’s appearance on Question Time a success. I thought he looked like a fool and everyone I spoke to thought he looked like a fool. I don’t move in particularly “right on” circles, people just hated the odious man all the more for having seen him. [1]

This call has ignited much discussion in the blogosphere with Harpy Marx, Paul Sagar, The Provisional BBC and Stephen Newton all joining the boycott. However, I like Dr Phil will not be joining.

A boycott can be a very effective tactic. The threat of one seemed to work when trying to keep Liddle out of the Independent. Unfortunately I think employed against Iain Dale and Total Politics a boycott is bound to fail.

The man would never back down to left wing bloggers, in his latest comments he seems to be positively revelling in it. Paul explains why he shouldn’t be here, but the point remains that I don’t think this boycott would ever be effective. Although I don’t uniformly support a No Platform policy I do condemn Iain’s decision to interview him.

So tactically I disagree with the threat of boycott. On the other hand, I commend their efforts to expand as sense of solidarity in the left wing blogosphere. I think it is necessary and desirable.

Giles argues against solidarity in blogging saying:

I think solidarity in the blogosphere is a mistake. In fact, I would even question whether outfits like LibCon – which I love – actually advance their causes, because you end up reading it thinking “they would say that wouldn’t they”. Do any of you think the existence of the IEA or ASI actually furthers the acceptance of right wing ideas? For every post I read that convinces me of something new, I read 10 that convince me that they are blinkered nutjobs.

When birds of a feather flock together, all you get is the impression of an echo-chamber, of all of you subjecting yourselves to the very rigorous and searching criticisms of, um, yourselves and other likeminded thinkers.

Giles is wrong for a number of reasons. I already think there is a greater degree of solidarity and cohesion on the blogosphere than he recognises, and that this is a good thing.

For example I think there is a clear sense of community created by bloggers entirely justified disdain for the mainstream media.

Criticising the mainstream media – and attacking its ineffectual watchdog/poodle – are key signals that you are “one of us.”

This signalling reduces the opportunity cost of working out who our allies are. There’s a lot of information out there and its rational to be ignorant of most of it, this behaviour  makes it cheaper to work out friend from foe.

[…]

We’re just great apes, the ticks we pick are called The Sun, The Mail and The Express, but in the end we just sit around, plucking out vermin. We do this not only because its essential for everyone’s health and sanity but also because it binds us together.

This solidarity needs to be built on if we are going to hold the press to account.

Likewise with an election this year, blogging solidarity is going to aid the dissection of each party’s manifesto.

I’m not asking for “freedom of discussion, unity of action” because there will always be disagreement between people opinionated enough to be bloggers.

What I think is necessary is a recognition in speech and action that bloggers, especially those on the left, are working together and can be stronger and more effective together.

[1] I have little faith in the intelligence of BNP members and I do think that a combination of No Platforms and people calmly and repeatedly refuting their arguments is too much for them, a pincer movement they can’t counter.

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12 thoughts on “Why I’m not Boycotting Total Politics’ Top Blogs Poll

  1. It’s all about the rosette ain’t it?

    League tables of blogs are a joke, esp. when run by that vile man, add to the fact they’re a fix and about as transparent as a cast iron gin beaker; there are your reasons for not taking part, not the fact the daft lad is going to interview an even dafter lad.

    But if it keeps the traffic coming in…

  2. Daniel, I don’t think it’s very fair – or very productive – to round ascribing motive like that.

    In the case of Alex Smith, yeah, the rosette is what it’s all about. Basically any established award that Labour List can win, they’ll be interested in participating.

    This is not the case, I’d say, with LO. Just because someone disagrees with us about participation in a No Platform thing doesn’t mean their views aren’t honestly held.

  3. Just sharing my personal feelings on the joke TP blog awards thang, that’s all, which for me are the equivalent of getting a trophy made for winning the pub quiz.

    Fair play to you if you’re into that but I ain’t.

  4. Mr Outside/may I call you Left:

    I agree that there is loads of web-solidarity, but our disagreement remains about whether this is a Good Thing. I have a big brewing post on the damage of groupthinky Echo Chambers, and will wait for that.

    But as an observer of (obviously) impeccable neutrality, I cannot help finding that so many web-congregations, Left and Right, are about the participants strengthening their pre-existing views, rather than modifying or learning. They are for mutual cheering up and validation. Just look at the moronic comments below Iain Dale’s posts. The Right, in fact, does it worse; at least on LibCon there is a big discussion going on with Tim J, Tim W et al. Not to be seen on Coffeehouse.

    So this is not an anti-Left rant. Just let’s not fall into the trap of only talking to our own.

    1. I think to an extent you may be correct.

      I like the group of bloggers I follow who keep tabs on the tabs, but I do think they lack the reach they really need t influence anything, and I think some of it can be something of a “preaching to the converted” element.

      I don’t think that’s down to solidarity per se, just down to the execution.

      I think there will always be a place for “mutual cheering up and validation”, we’re great apes and I think it is healthy, so long as it remains supplimentary to the rest of the work.

      There may be some reinforcing of preexisting views going on, but I also think that there is a great deal of debate. I think this goes back to the difference between right and left blogging, left wing bloggers generally are also activists (although to describe me as an activist would stretch the term to breaking point) whereas the right are more in it to vent.

    2. You may of course call me left.

      Although the short hand many others seem to be using is LO (this may be because it is amusing to open an e-mail ‘ello LO).

  5. Paul, Daniel! So young yet so cynical.

    I appreciate that specific criticism comes tongue in cheek (and thanks Dave for defending me) but there is a grain of truth there. I think publicising a blog is important to maximise its impact, no point in writing well if no one’s reading.

    But, I think importantly I can count on Dave and Paul and Chris Dillow for far more hits and links than I’ve ever received from Total Poltics.

    If it was stats I was interested in Total Politics isn’t the way I’ll increase then. With regard to prestige, the same applies. Most of the people I genuinely respect and read regularly (Dave, Chris, Paul, Paul and others) may well think less of me for continuing.

    1. Fair enough, off topic but wanted to warn you that my racist troll is back on strong at Lib Con and using your name and url, our stand-in editor is doing a grand job of deleting the trash, just so you know sir.

      1. Haha wanker, he was here impersonating Douglas earlier.

        I’ve set my moderation so you have to have your first comment approved before following ones will be. So your reputation will be safe here.

        Rest assured I’ve very little reputation to protect so if you’re feeling sorry for anyone, feel sorry for Don Paskini or the guy with so little to do he has to impersonate strangers.

  6. No, I don’t think less of you for continuing, though I will if you want me to.

    I think the whole little boycott jaunt has been useful in that it’s been an opportunity for people to think through their views on this kind of action. The fact that we’re in a different place on tactics at the moment is neither here nor there.

    In fact, while the awards boycott call has not got very far (roughly I’d say it’s 50/50 amongst those active left bloggers who’ve declared either way, and most haven’t bothered to engage in a fairly small matter), I do just wonder whether it will be think end of the wedge stuff for the TP awards over the next couple of years, but we’ll see. To be honest, I’m not that bothered either.

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