Stop blogging, start talking...

Blogs have taken on a number of roles in recent years, but opinion is divided on the importance of t

With so much mainstream media attention at the Lib Dem conference focused on Ming’s leadership, you would be forgiven for thinking there was not a word spoken on policy. This prompted Richard Huzzey to write: “It’s a sad indictment of the media that a week-long conference discussing the pressing issues of the day hinges on whether a man says ‘there’s no vacancy’ or ‘I probably would’.”

But a trawl through the blogosphere reveals a fascinating insight into the day-to-day activity of a party political conference.

If political commentators were seeking a barometer for the popularity of likely leadership candidates, Stephen Tall may have come up with an alternative to YouGov: “Mugs with Steve [Webb]’s face on them are the top sellers at this year’s conference.”

In a Q&A session between Ming and Sandi Toksvig, many wondered why the photos turned out so bad. Jonathon Calder has a suggestion: “The stools had been carefully adjusted and positioned to show Ming to best advantage. Unfortunately, though, when the two of them went out on to the stage they sat the wrong way round.”

The sole topic of conversation among attendees was not – as the mainstream media implied – Ming’s future, as Alex Foster states: “Talk in the conference bar reveals that some delegates have been rather disappointed with the quality of their hotels.”

As a testament to how highly-regarded the blog has become in politics, the Lib Dems’ annual blog awards was a key event of the conference. James Graham's Quaequam blog won the award for best blogger and best blog post for the repost to Simon Jenkins’s question of what the Lib Dems were for.

Jonny Wright’s Hug a Hoodie won best new blog, Mary Reid scooped best blog by an elected representative and best designed blog, while Liberal Mafia won best humourous blog. As best blog for an elected representative nominee Peter Black writes in our conference blog section, Liberal Mafia was unable to attend, though he sent a horse head in his stead.

But not all Lib Dem bloggers are as enthusiastic about the benefits of blogging. While pontificating about how to solve the infighting the blogosphere creates in political parties, Paul Walter wrote: “A vast amount of keypad bashing in the world is completely pointless. If only some people would actually just talk to each other, then endless millions of words written wouldn’t be necessary.” So there.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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