December 07, 2005

Britain Needs a (Bigger) Blogosphere (Among Other Things)

The Spectator now has a blog, which is off to a decent start.

One of the first posts is this one by Tim Montgomery of the British Conservative Home blog. Montgomery notes the "the impoverishment of British conservatism stands in huge contrast to the vibrancy of American conservatism." He advocates the British Conservatives adopt the "American model", and begin building a "conservative infrastructure." He notes that "the internet presents the greatest of opportunities for Britainís grassroots conservatives to ensure that all of its eggs arenít in the Cameron basket. Anyone can set up a blog, for example."

Agreed about the desperate need for a whole soup-to-nuts British Conservative infrastructure. It is a multi-decade project. Start soon. But let's focus on one slice of that, one that is cheap, easy and fun. We in the Anglospherist cabal have been muttering about the dire need for disintermediation in Britain for a long time now. Americans complain about the MSM, but things are way worse in Britain. The country is ripe for a peasant revolt of angry, pajama-clad Tories typing away furiously in the wee hours. More of this, please. Faster, please. When this process really gets going in Britain, it is going to have a huge impact, since Britain is much more centralized and clique-dominated than the USA. A better target. Disintermediated media in the USA has been a series of hurricanes buffeting the MSM. But the process is going to be even more spectacular in crusty, dusty, musty old England once it really gets going. I shiver in delicious anticipation of the shrilling shrieks of outrage as the British media monopoly begins finally to taste the lash they deserve so badly.

Montgomery has been pleased with his own blog's performance:

More than 20,000 comments have been left on the blog over that time. The comments display the best and the worst of blogging. Sometimes Iíve been embarrassed as Iíve read an exchange of personal abuse between partisans for the leadership contenders. At other times Iíve learnt an enormous amount. Pieces I have written on tax policy, grammar schooling or English Votes for English Laws have often produced one hundred and more comments of enormous quality. A hundred brains have vindicated James Surowieckiís The Wisdom of Crowds and its contention that ďAll of us know more than any one of us doesĒ.
That sounds pretty familiar. One tip for him: Delete rude comments without notice or apology.

Montgomery concludes:

My hope is that the conservative blogosphere is the seedbed of a real conservative renaissance. My prayer is that it has the potential to breed transformational ideas, platform persuasive voices and open up hundreds of thousands of wallets.

Yeah, baby. Make no small plans.

Posted by Lexington Green at December 7, 2005 07:16 PM

Count me confused, but what exactly does Tory politics have to do with the Anglosphere? It strikes me that the Anglosphere "traditions" uncovered by Jim Bennett are more Whig than Tory -- individualism and personal choice, entrepreneurialism, contractual relations, the rights of free speech and association, scientific research, technological innovation, free trade and free markets, etc. Are modern-day Tories the inheritors to old-style Whigs, or am I missing something? (I freely admit that the latter is often true...)

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at December 7, 2005 08:44 PM

Well, actually the Tories are partly the heirs of the old Whigs. The Liberal Party in Britain split in the 1880s over autonomy fo Ireland; those opposed to the idea joined the old Tories under the name of Unionist (following the example of the pro-war Democrats in the US who supported Lincoln in 1864 under that name -- Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's second VP among them). From that point on, until recently, it was formally the "Conservative and Unionist Party". A second and larger group broke away from the Liberals after World War One when the left seceeded to form the Labour Party and the rump became electorally nonviable. Winston Churchill was among these.

Margaret Thatcher was raised in the old northern-midlands English Liberal tradition. Her father was elected to the Grantham city council as a Liberal, and she said in the first volume of her autobiography that she would have entered politics as a Liberal if it had been a viable basis for taking office as a majority. Liberalism in the classical sense had all but been dirven underground in pre-Thatcher Britain. Her candidacy brought the stream back above ground again.

The British Right is the same fusion of conservative and libertarian threads as the American right, but less explicit and therefore a more uneasy coalition. It is, however, where the action is at this time, so we must be concerned with it. The supposed heirs of liberalism, the Liberal Democrats, are pretty much hopeless.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at December 7, 2005 09:28 PM

Everything Jim said.

I think it is safe to say that in Britain, Anglosphere ideas will only have political appeal to a party of the Right or Center-Right. At the moment, the Tories are not open to these kinds of the ideas or their policy implications. This could change, but a bunch of things would have to change as well.

The main point of the piece I quoted seems to be to create a "conservative infrastructure" so the Tories would actually have some beliefs, ideas, etc. As of now, they don't, much. Maybe a disintermediated conservative/libertarian community in Britain will lead to a transformed Conservative party, or to a new party all together. At minimum, it could help hold the current group of politicians more accountable. Whatever practical political results ensue, I wish the process well. The current situation is pretty depressing. This new Tory leader, whom Helen slagged in an earlier post, seems like an empty suit, an idea-free-zone with a tie around its neck. Maybe he'll surprise us. Doubt it.

Posted by: Lex at December 7, 2005 09:40 PM

Gentlemen, thanks as always for the education. :-)

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at December 7, 2005 09:53 PM

The Conservatives are taking the wrong lessons from the Americans. They are looking at organization and presentation - which are very important - but losing track of the need to keep the core supporters on track and energized. Trying to appeal to "new" voters, that is the Guardian reading public sector workers is nonsense.

Posted by: Helen at December 8, 2005 05:07 AM

Yes, the lesson Rove's tactics should have taught the Tories is a) secure your own base and increase its turnout rate, and b) search and find voting blocs that really should naturally support you but are currently supporting the opposition, usually for historical reasons that are no longer valid. Detach the latter from the opposition and attach them to you. I don't see Cameron talking about either target.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at December 8, 2005 01:22 PM

Good to see Speccie finally has a blog. I know several people who were pushing for it 3 years ago?

Anyway onto Cameron. If he can get the reluctant MEPs to leave the EPP; he will go up in my estimation. That is a promise he made during his campaign for leadership. If he blows that he is toast with the grassroots and the right of the party. The federast MEPs are already balking. This is a firm test of his leadership. He pulls it off; then a whole bunch of sceptics, inc me, will come on-side.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at December 8, 2005 04:56 PM

American conservatism only looks strong - it can be compared to the British Empire, around the time of the Boer War.

Right now it relies on the bankrupcy of American liberalism as it's archimedian point, from which to move the world. But the plate techtonics are shifting.

Posted by: Gotham Image at December 9, 2005 04:22 PM

Gotham Image, even if you are right, "the bankrupcy of American liberalism" is not going to bet better any time soon. But I don't think you are. The basic messages of American conservatism are popular and are election winners -- lower taxes, strong national defense, law and order, personal responsibility, free enterprise, traditional views on marriage and family life. This is a cluster of ideas and policy positions which is very compelling. There is nothing on the horizon which can challenge it. Your analogy only makes sense if there are very strong challengers on the rise. The DLC version of liberalism? Whatever Hillary Clinton is going to be dishing up? I don't see it.

Posted by: Lex at December 9, 2005 04:32 PM

its very interesting, thank

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