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Top 20 US Progressives: Markos Moulitsas

Editor, Daily Kos.

In 2002, when a former soldier in the US army named Markos Moulitsas Zúniga launched Daily Kos, the political blogosphere was dominated by the right. However, Moulitsas's stance was defiantly partisan. "I am a progressive," he wrote in his first post on 26 May 2002. "I make no apologies." He soon came to the attention of the then governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, to whose surprisingly strong campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination he was co-opted as a consultant in 2003.

While Dean's bid foundered, Daily Kos grew, throwing its weight (and its web traffic) behind several left-wing Democrats running

in congressional and gubernatorial races. Today Moulitsas employs a staff of 15 and Daily Kos attracts between three and five million visitors each week. The site continues to support any Democrat who, as Moulitsas puts it, isn't "afraid of what [the Fox News anchor] Bill O'Reilly's going to say".

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This article first appeared in the 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.