Archive for the ‘The Political Weblog Movement’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 15, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

The Times – British bloggers grow bolder: A study of British political blogs carried out by the Hansard Society last year criticised the UK’s main sites for pandering to “internet connoisseurs rather than ordinary members of the public”… Political blogging in the UK is much more embryonic and exclusive than in the US,” said Ross Ferguson, the new media manager at the Hansard Society. “UK bloggers have yet to decide whether blogging is a means to promote transparency in politics or another tool for party campaigning.”

I think you already know which I would prefer. Oh, this article goes on to mention some agressive chap with a weblog.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 14, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

I’ve been advised by Rui that there is a election in Portugal on the 20th of this month and almost every leader of a major party has a weblog:

Jeronimo de Sousa – comuniste party
Jose Socrates – socialist party
Paulo Portas – wright party
Pedro Santana Lopes – social democrat party

I can’t read Portugese, but these appear to be very much campaign-driven (as opposed to communication-driven). Only this blog allows comments on some posts.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 9, 2005

Category: Search Engine Optimisation, The Political Weblog Movement

First, a bit of good news.

Channel 4 – Political Impact Award: Boris Johnson has won the Channel 4 award for the person who made the biggest impression on the politics of 2004.

Now, a housekeeping report on Boris Johnson’s website.

OK, here’s how it works:

2-7% of web users have their own website or weblog. Due to the influence of link popularity, it is this 2-7% that largely determines what major search engines like Google present as their search results. (That may not sound very democratic, but there’s a level of community-led accountability built in and if you have a problem with the whole thing, perhaps you should start a weblog of your own.)

Not a lot of people know that there is also a historical aspect to Google’s ranking algorithm. Sites that take control of certain top search results for a long period of time are difficult to unseat quickly without some serious inbound link activity and/or a lack of updates on these dominating sites.

So, for the first 6 months of operation, Boris’s weblog climbed no higher than the 3rd search result in Google for ‘boris johnson’ – largely because the Boris Johnson Fan Club and Boris Watch had been in operation longer.

But no longer.

Boris is now the top search result for ‘boris johnson’ in Google and the new MSN database. Yahoo is still pending.

But wait… there’s more.

I have this little example I like to use in business meetings when trying to show clients or potential clients the difference between creating something of interest to the weblog community and integrating fully with it. That example is Tom Watson.

I begin by explaining that when Tom first came online, his site didn’t appear on the front page of any search engine for his name, because there was a golfer by the same name with a 20-year career under his belt. Profile, news and tribute pages for this individual dominated the search results.

So I then show them the weblog and how it works. I pop over to Technorati and show them the ‘buzz’ around his weblog. I show them the difference between static links (such as a blogroll link) and transient links (such as a individual posts) and make it very clear that the former is much harder to earn than the latter. I try to convey the community aspect as best I can.

Then we go to Google and search for ‘tom watson’… this is the point when most people get it. Because of his integration with the weblog community, Tom Watson the MP is seen to be the most relevant ‘tom watson’ there is. He is the Tom Watson that is more accessible and whose website is the most highly regarded.

Then we search for ‘labour mp’… this is the point when most people see the potential. Because of his integration with the weblog community, Tom Watson the MP is seen to be the most relevant ‘labour mp’ there is. He is the Labour MP that is more accessible and whose website is the most highly regarded.

I guess you know what’s coming…

Yes, while it may come and go in the first few days (as many fresh results do), yesterday Boris Johnson achieved the top search result in Google for ‘conservative mp’.

Boris Johnson – the first Tory MP with a weblog – has the more dynamic and most accessible site. His site is more highly regarded than the websites of other Conservative MPs. He is therefore the most relevant ‘conservative mp’ there is. At least, according to Google he is. MSN and Yahoo will take a while to catch up.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 7, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Independent – My life as a blog: 12 of the best sites: Yes, this really is the blog of the tousle-haired Conservative MP. It’s a bit bumbling on the surface, but that disguises an honesty, keen organisation and depth that put many rivals into the shade; rather like the man himself, in fact.

Well done, Boris. Well done also to Wibbler for an excellent build.

UPDATE – Tim work too late. Brain no work. Congratulations also to the lovely Melissa.


Yay – Boris Blog site is praised

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 3, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

He was teased by Cherie and somebody messed with his bike. They’ll be stealing his lunch-money next, just you wait and see.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 2, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

*This door is now closed.


Posted by Tim Ireland at January 27, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Boris Johnson’s regular column does not appear in today’s Torygraph. Instead, we get to read about Michael Howard’s views on immigration.

Charming, yes? Surprising, no? Click here to read or leave a comments on Boris’s weblog.

UPDATE – Guardian – Howard’s figures add up to jingoism

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 18, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

Hey everyone! Tom’s back!

Oh, and you just have to meet Rodney Hylton-Potts, who recently won the blink-and-you-miss-it mess that was Vote For Me.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 14, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement, UK General Election 2005

This is a heads-up for all proxy-bloggers, some information about how well you’re doing and some ideas about what you can do during the upcoming election.

A star (*) denotes a blog that is in need of love (i.e. there hasn’t been a fresh post for a while).

Paddy Tipping is my MP – 3rd in Yahoo and 1st in MSN for ‘paddy tipping’

Keetchwatch* – 2nd in Google and MSN for ‘paul keetch’

Glenda Jackson MP* – Voidstar feed is 2nd in Google for ‘glenda jackson mp’, blog is 1st in Yahoo for ‘glenda jackson’

Steve Pound Proxy Weblog – 2nd (feed) and 5th (blog) in Google, 2nd in Yahoo

Michael Clapham MP* – 8th (feed) in Google, 1st in Yahoo and MSN for ‘michael clapham’

Jeff Ennis MP* – 5th (feed) and 10th (blog) in Google, 1st in Yahoo and MSN for ‘jeff ennis’

Eric Illsley MP* – 3rd in Google, 1st in Yahoo and MSN for ‘eric-illsley’

Stalking David Blunkett* and Big Blunkett* have both ceased activity since his ministerial resignation, but the authors should prepare for action. They’ve got excellent coverage in Google, Yahoo and MSN… and Blunkett is still a Labour MP and an important ‘face’ that is likely to be used during the election.

Keith Vaz, MP – 1st in Google, Yahoo and MSN for ‘keith vaz’! Cracking effort! This has a lot to do with it being a comprehensive blog with regular posts. In fact, this blog deserves your special attention.

Almost David Lepper, MP* – The Blogger Profile for this site is 5th in Google for ‘david lepper’, the Voidstar feed is 10th. The blog itself is 1st in Yahoo and MSN for the same query.

Frank Dobson MP* – The Voidstar feed is 6th in Google for ‘frank dobson mp’, the weblog itself is 2nd in Yahoo and 4th in MSN for ‘frank dobson’

Nick Raynsford MP* – 3rd in Google and 1st in Yahoo and MSN for ‘nick raynsford’

Lewis Moonie MP* – 2nd (feed) and 7th in Google for ‘lewis moonie mp’, 1st in Yahoo and MSN for ‘lewis moonie’

(Not) Alan Milburn – This proxy-blog is 2nd in Yahoo and 3rd in MSN for ‘alan milburn’, but best we can do in Google is 8th (and that’s the Voidstar feed) for ‘alan milburn mp’ – so this weblog needs some serious Google-juice. This blog needs the most love. Please link to it.

GidleyWatch – A shining star in our collection, in that it resulted in Sandra Gidley starting a weblog of her own. The proxy-blog is 6th in Google, 2nd in Yahoo and 3rd in MSN for ‘sandra gidley’

sarah teather is my mp – 2nd in Google, 1st in Yahoo and MSN for ‘sarah teather’

Not the real Jim Cousins Blog – The Voidstar feed is 6th in Google for ‘jim cousins’, the weblog is 1st in Yahoo and MSN

NEW: Pugh Watch – 5th in Google for ‘john pugh’ (not sure how I missed this one, but it’s there)

So – if you’re up for it – I’d like all proxy bloggers to stand by for full-on Election Mode.

If you get campaign material, scan it and display it.

If a local candidate does something interesting, report it.

If a local candidate says something questionable, refute it.

If a local candidate says something that’s total bullshit, reveal it.

This blog and others (I’m guessing Honourable Fiend will be among them) will be very interested in what you have to say and display.

We’re going to blog this election live. We’re going to kick arse and take names. And that’s just for starters.

PS – You. Yes, you. Do you live in or near the constituencies of the blogs listed above? You are? Well, that’s just lovely. Perhaps you’d care to help out.

And even if you’re not, perhaps you’d care to lend some scanning or scan-hosting support. So much of what gets said, promised or suggested during an election gets lost. It’s important that it be preserved.

PPS – I’m working on Blair Video II and need 8-12 questions that you would ask of Tony Blair. No more than 4-8 words. Leave them under Comments if you like or email me directly.

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 14, 2005

Category: The Political Weblog Movement, Tony 'King Blair, UK General Election 2005

I think we can look forward to the announcement of an election date shortly. We’re at the stage of last-minute manoeuvres.

Speaking of which, you may recall that Labour sent two last-minute text-messages before the 2001 election; one mocking the hard-drinking cap-wearing then Tory leader William Hague and one promising longer licensing hours. Years later, and on the eve of an election announcement, we finally see some action on “flexible closing times”.

But let’s get down to yesterday’s meat and two veg…

BBC – In full: Blair speech

BBC – Blair stresses prosperity goals: Tony Blair says his party’s next manifesto will be “unremittingly New Labour” and aimed at producing “personal prosperity for all”. The prime minister is trying to draw a line under speculation over the state of his relationship with Gordon Brown with the speech in Chatham, Kent. He said that prosperity meant both individual wealth and ensuring “radically improved” public services. He also claimed Labour was more ideologically united than ever.

Telegraph – Blair postures where Thatcher revolutionised: The central purpose of New Labour is to increase personal prosperity and wellbeing, not just for a few, but for all. Thus the Prime Minister yesterday, in his first practice run for the hustings. As a philosophy, it’s only marginally more controversial than admitting being in favour of motherhood and apple pie, yet, like so much else in his long speech yesterday, it bears only a nodding acquaintance with what his Government has really done in its first seven years.

Guardian – Blair sets out campaign stall: Tony Blair yesterday set the stage for a “pocket book” election in which he hopes to fend off New Labour’s opponents by harnessing Britain’s thriving economy to promote “personal prosperity and well-being” for all classes in society.

Guardian – Blair’s reality gap: Yesterday the prime minister’s first political speech of the election fired the opening salvo. It was a standard Blair speech, electioneering by numbers, as he laid out the fundamentals of Labour’s claim to govern again next time. Number one – colour it white – the sound economy, without which nothing else. Then follows a long list of all Labour has done, mostly impressive and true. But not always the only truth.

Independent – Blair pays tribute to ‘the most successful Chancellor since war’: Tony Blair took steps to heal his rift with Gordon Brown yesterday by accepting the Chancellor’s criticism that the Labour government had not fulfilled the hopes the nation had when it came to power in 1997. In a speech launching Labour’s “long campaign” for a 5 May general election, the Prime Minister lavished praise on Mr Brown, who he called “the most successful British post-war Chancellor”. He vowed to fight the election on an “unremittingly New Labour” ticket and put the economy at the heart of the campaign. “Everything we do must be for this one central purpose: increased personal prosperity and well-being for all,” he said.


Here’s an extract from a comment I made on Boris Johnson’s site the other day: So the rift is healed (or not a rift at all) and the economy is central to election strategy. Fair enough. It worked in the US and in Australia. Everyone’s making money, and the other guys will make you poor. Or quite possibly dead.

And here’s an interesting rumour that popped up on Usenet, posted to the same comments thread: Essentially, the Brown Camp within Labour do not want a huge majority at the next election; a result that would strengthen Tony Blair in the immediate aftermath. They believe that there are real ideological issues between the two men that would translate into different government agendas under either of the two leaders. That being the case, they would expect a third Labour landslide to be followed by a purge of their man and themselves, unless there wasn’t a landslide.

Caveat: This is supposed to come from a “highly placed and well-informed” Tory… but I’ve also heard it refuted privately by more than one person in the Labour Party.

But if Blair does come through with a strong victory based on values that are “unremittingly New Labour” (here we make a petty remark about Bush’s – *snigger* – mandate), I think we can expect to see – at the very least – a lot of Brownies left out in the cold.

For those who are wondering about my role in the upcoming election… yes, I was teasing you when I posted this. Kind of.

In 2001, only 59% of the population voted. This was the lowest turnout since 1918 (and that was probably due to a lot of the electorate being underground at the time).

I’m going to be targeting those who see Blair’s win to be inevitable and the alternatives to be less-than-ideal. I want to show these people that there is a point to voting and (hopefully) encourage them to vote pragmatically and/or strategically.

I also want others to see through the barrage of bullshit that’s bound to come our way via mainstream media. To do this, I need to position myself in a way that allows me to subvert not only Blair’s campaign message, but also Howard’s and Kennedy’s where necessary.

The primary purpose of this activity will be to combat bullshit in general and reduce Blair’s majority in order to ensure that there is a strong and effective opposition – that knows that they too are answerable to the public.

The posters have been designed and a test-run of t-shirts is due early next week. The site is 75% ready, banners and buttons are completed. Ground-work has already begin to ensure that we take control of major search terms relating to the election and possibly key issues/candidates. Proxy-bloggers, you especially need to prepare yourselves for battle on this front.

A nifty Flash show (of the fun variety) has been waiting in the wings for weeks and last night I fell upon the ideal soundtrack for a follow-up (of the awesome variety).

If you think you’re going to just sit out this election and make up your mind on the day… think again. I want you on our side and I want you active in the coming weeks and months.

This will mean – at the very least – some time and real estate on your weblog, but I will also be asking you to reach into your pockets and get off your arse and do stuff.

The major parties have cash and mainstream media on their side, and armies of people that collectively will have a greater impact than you if they’re willing to do what you’re not and simply get out on the streets.

So… is it going to be big? Well, that’s up to you.

Is it going to be clever? Well, I certainly hope so.

The one thing I can guarantee is this: it’s going to be fun.

Democracy is choice. You heard it here first.

UPDATE – Blair and Brown: Fiend explains it all!

Oh, and Gina Snowdoll reports that Alastair Campbell has been smiling at strange women on Victoria Road. Of course, this is nowhere *near* as intersting as Margot Wallstrom starting a weblog, but I’m sure you’ll get over it.

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