At JC’s invitation – 19th Oct or thereabouts

Blogging is funFollowing up a similar post at Liberal Democrat Voice earlier today, Jonathan Calder at Liberal England has reflected on what he has been blogging about on 19th October all the way back into the mists of 2004.

He invited others to do likewise. It feels a bit retro, but I’ve had a go.

I’ve had a look back through the – slightly shorter in my case – archive and discovered that I don’t post frequently enough to hit 19th October regularly. But I have usually posted a day or two one side or the other of 19th.

So here’s my ‘thereabouts’ list: [Read more…]

Making it to five (not out)

This blog opened for business five years ago today. The first post was Can the Big Society be anything more than BS?, reblogged from Liberal Democrat Voice. It felt like quite a big step to strike out on my own rather than post occasionally at group sites. The most recent post – yesterday’s Compassionate friends of Conservatism – just tipped me over 600 posts.

A blogging anniversary is conventionally a time to pause and reflect. I did so on the blog’s second anniversary – Reaching the terrible twos – but I don’t think I’ve done so since. Last year I was knee deep in party conference season and the anniversary was marked with a post originating at a fringe event about The Orange BookNotes from a small gathering.

I guess reflection might be even more in order this year because quite a lot of blogs fall silent long before they reach the five year mark. So I’ve longevity on my side. Not only that but this blog apparently gets used as a case study in talks about blogging for and by academics. It occasionally get accused of thought leadership and suchlike.

So one might assume that I’ve got some pearls of wisdom to share. [Read more…]

The Q#3 quintet (the while you were away edition)

Here are the five posts on this blog that recorded the most hits between July and September 2015:

I can only think that the frequent appearance of Mr J across the media over the summer has forced more people on to the internet to ask the question posed in the title of the list-topping post. It was a long, long way ahead of the other posts on the list in terms of traffic.

[Read more…]

The Q#2 quintet (the decidedly liberal left edition)

Here are the five posts on this blog that recorded the most hits between April and June 2015:

  1. Why is Owen Jones so annoying? (4th July 2013)
  2. Selling off social housing (14th Apr)
  3. Labour, leadership and the catastrophic benefit cap (11th Jun)
  4. Social liberalism and the Liberal Democrats (26 May)
  5. Liberalism redux (12 May)

So my venerable ‘Owen Jones’ post continues to attract plenty of traffic. In fact, this may have been its biggest quarter so far.

[Read more…]

The Q#1 quintet (usual suspects edition)

Here are the five posts on this blog that recorded the most hits between January and March 2015:

  1. Uncertain terrain: Issues and challenges facing housing associations (11th May 2013)
  2. Why is Owen Jones so annoying? (4th July 2013)
  3. Economists and their politics (11th Jan)
  4. The political classes lagging not leading on housing (29th Jan)
  5. The Tory £12bn and manifest inadequacy (28th March)

So the two hardy perennials reassert themselves and head back to the top of the charts. Economists and their politics wasn’t too far behind, but couldn’t quite topple these two evergreens.

[Read more…]

Lib Dem blogging on the slide

BlogOver at Liberal Bureaucracy a few days ago Mark offered an overview of activity in the Liberal Democrat blogging community. He argues that the trend is not healthy – fewer bloggers, less activity:

So, there are less of us, and we’re quieter than we once were, which feels to me to be an accurate reflection of the Party generally, a bit loathe to put its head above the parapet for fear of being shot at.

I seem to remember Stephen Tall saying something similar about the decline of active bloggers at the BOTY award ceremony in Brighton a couple of years ago.

I’m not sure that anyone could disagree on the broad trend. It is easy to think of quite a few well-established bloggers who have either explicitly called it a day or who have drifted into relative inactivity. It is less easy to think of new voices that have emerged to achieve a significant profile or make a substantial impact. Nick Tyrone perhaps falls into that category, but he can hardly be characterised as a new voice emerging out of nowhere.

But I wonder about Mark’s interpretation of this trend. [Read more…]

The Q#4 quintet plus

Here are the five posts on this blog that recorded the most hits between October and December 2014:

  1. Social housing transformations (27th Oct)
  2. The Universal Credit fiasco (30th Nov)
  3. Uncertain terrain: Issues and challenges facing housing associations (11th May 2013)
  4. Why is Owen Jones so annoying? (4th July 2013)
  5. Defining the challenge of UK housing policy (30th Oct)

So during this quarter a couple of hardy perennials featured prominently again.

[Read more…]

My top ten posts of 2014

TOP10I’m not 100% sure I can decide what sort of year 2014 has been for this blog – good, bad or indifferent. The overall level of traffic has been the same as 2013, give or take a few hundred hits. I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to read what I post.

The pattern of traffic has been bit different this year to that of previous years. Nothing I posted this year sank without trace, but, on the other hand, nothing really took off. Most posts did okay (by the standards of this blog!).

The statistics for the year are rather dominated by a couple of posts originally published in 2013. They both recorded more than three times the hits of anything I published in 2014. I’m glad that they have found a broader audience, but I’m not entirely sure they stand out from a lot of the other stuff I’ve written. I’ve no idea whether the longer a blog continues the more likely it is to find greatest hits from the back catalogue continuing to attract substantial traffic, but that certainly seems to be happening here.

The blog again spent all year in the teads (previously ebuzzing) monthly ranking of the top 100 politics blogs. Such rankings are not to be taken too seriously, but I guess being in the top 100 is better than not being there! Thanks to everyone who thought one of my posts was worth retweeting, liking or linking to.

Thanks also to those who crossposted my posts to other group blogs and to all those who took the time to comment on one of my posts during the year.

Here, then, in reverse order, are my top ten most popular posts of 2014: [Read more…]

The Q#3 quintet, and then some

Here are the five posts on this blog that recorded the most hits between July and September 2014:

  1. Uncertain terrain: Issues and challenges facing housing associations (11th May 2013)
  2. Developments in the ongoing Bedroom Tax saga (6th Sept)
  3. Why is Owen Jones so annoying? (4th July 2013)
  4. The miraculous power of welfare reform (11th Aug)
  5. The value of planning (30th Aug)


This quarter feels a bit like deja vu all over again.  [Read more…]

Serial bloggage

One of the most intriguing characteristics of blogging is its flexibility. You can find plenty of people willing to offer their views on how you should go about blogging if you want to maximize your audience and the like. But, while some of these hints and tips may well be of value, I’m not sure there is a formula for success.

While the received wisdom might be that posts of around 500-600 words will hit the spot most effectively, there are hugely effective bloggers who have mastered the art of the meaningful single paragraph or, indeed, single sentence post. Or bloggers who intersperse textual posts with images or videos that are left to speak for themselves.

Then again there are windbags like me who can barely say anything sensible in less than a thousand words. Occasionally – and more commonly when I started out – I have published posts of 2,500 to 3,000 words. These days I’m more likely to bung something of that length on to Scribd and use a blogpost to signpost to it.

Another distinctive blogging format is the thematic series. I don’t suppose there is any technical reason why series of thematic posts could not feature more regularly in the mainstream media. But I guess they are perceived to require a degree of commitment from the publisher, the author, and the audience. That is probably sufficient to discourage some publishers. When you’re pushing the publish button yourself it isn’t so much of an issue. [Read more…]