Silly, Vulgar, Jejune

May 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm (bloggocks, capitalist crisis, Disability, Max Dunbar, media, protest, Tory scum)

Matthew Elliott from the Taxpayers’ Alliance said that yesterday’s ‘Rally Against Debt’ would ‘speak for the normally silent majority who know that, like it or not, spending cuts are right and necessary to cut the deficit and control the national debt.’ It turns out that the ‘silent majority’ consists of around 350 people, plus a speaking line up of some of the silliest personalities in British conservatism – frothing libertarian Paul Staines, climate change denialist Martin Durkin, UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Is the TPA disappointed with this poor turnout? 350 people – there are cats on Twitter with more followers. It’s a good stat to remember the next time a conservative blogger accuses you of being a liberal elitist who is out of touch with the great British public. The low number is even more striking when you consider the Hardest Hit demo on Wednesday, a protest from disability groups against the government’s welfare reform bill. The Met confirmed around 8,000 on this demo despite the obvious physical difficulties many demonstrators would have to surmount to get to the venue.

I thought it was only a matter of time before we had a proper US-style Tea Party movement in this country, but perhaps I was wrong. It could be that the Guido Fawkes brand of extreme metropolitan conservatism doesn’t resonate with people in the same way that the TUC/UK Uncut demonstrations seemed to.

No one likes the idea of a national debt and no one outside the public sector management class would dispute that there is huge public sector waste. But we are not getting cuts in management consultancy fees and council exec salaries, we are getting cuts to policing, legal aid, welfare payments. The cuts are not just an abstract slogan any more, they are happening now, up here in Manchester there is real uncertainty over the future of libraries, SureStarts, debt advice services and law centres. Meanwhile the screamers in the Tory press complain that the government is not going far enough – Telegraph finance writer Ian Cowie recently argued, in apparent seriousness, that Cameron should take the vote from the unemployed.

The rally also illustrated the disadvantages of this government’s reliance on web-based activism. Iain Dale and Tim Montgomerie are big names in the Westminster political class but I doubt they would be recognised outside it. Meanwhile the Taxpayers’ Alliance is looking less like a national grassroots movement and more like another small monetarist pressure group. Why then is it given automatic right to reply on any newspaper story involving public finance?

Finally, I think the political blog is reaching the end of its natural life. The Tories won the internet war, but was it worth winning? The blog form is declining for a multitude of sins. For obvious reasons, trained journalists are much more reliable when it comes to finding actual news and many bloggers are far too partisan in their opinions to deliver interesting commentary and analysis. You get better quality of debate on Facebook and Twitter than on blog comment threads, mainly because most people on social networking sites write under their real names.

The lack of professionalism in even the most respected bloggers is astounding – Conservative Home has just appointed an eighteen year old as Deputy Editor. The best political bloggers – think Steven Baxter, Sunny Hundal, Laurie Penny – have been absorbed into mainstream journalism. Announcing his ‘retirement’ from political blogging, conservative pundit Iain Dale reflected that ‘the mainstream media has eaten up the independent political blogosphere’, and went on to say this:

For whatever reason, the political blogosphere in this country has not met the expectations of many. It has created media careers for a small group of the chosen few – me among them.

The right has more to lose from the death of political blogging because rightwing bloggers have so much more invested in the medium. Check out the breathless and portentous tone of Dale’s piece: ‘When I gave up blogging six months ago, the reaction to it was astonishing. It was akin to being witness to my own funeral. It was considered such a momentous event that I was invited on to more or less every news channel going.’ The Tory blogosphere is full of people who take themselves very seriously and mistake the voices in their head for the Voice of the People.

Despite Dale’s pessimism, he’s thrown himself into a new internet venture, ‘a new online magazine’ called ‘The Daley: Iain Dale and Friends’. According to the Guardian, featured writers include ‘Shelagh Fogarty, BBC 5 Live’s recently departed breakfast presenter, Tom Harris MP, and television personality Christine Hamilton.’


  1. SteveH said,

    Love this article but does the tone suggest Shiraz is coming to an end?

    I have a problem with Facebook cornering the entire market in on line discussion, i prefer the free form of bloggers having individual blogs. You said facebook have better quality debate, you really are living in the elite cloud cuckoo land if you believe that.

  2. maxdunbar said,

    Depends on the calibre of friends, I suppose.

    I have no plans to stop blogging

  3. raincoatoptimism said,

    I blog because I like to write – who cares about t’other people 🙂 which is why I agree with Max, and will carry on blogging regardless.

  4. modernityblog said,

    Agree with Max and Carl above.

    But what I find surprising is the *lack* of quality socialist blogs.

    I supposed I shouldn’t be (given the decline in the Left and the resultant consequences), but I’d like to see more with greater humour and pluralism.

    Instead you have masses and masses of right-wing ones, rump Left/Far Right ones and awful “anti-imperialists” blogs, where the level of the discussion is barely above that of semi-literate juveniles.

    And don’t get me started on insipid LP blogs….

    Oh, for working class internationalist blogs with quality discussions.

  5. SteveH said,

    “Depends on the calibre of friends, I suppose”

    – nice one but debating between friends is a very anemic form of debate if you ask me.

    For example see this utter rubbish and weep:

    Modernity, one measure that would immediatley improve lthe quality of discussion on left blogs would be if you removed yourself from all internet discussion. And what is so great about this proposal is that for once you have actual power to affect change. I am envious!

  6. modernityblog said,

    I should have added that it is free to start a blog, so why more ain’t started is a question.

    PS: Max, you are too kind to SteveH, you can see his ranting about,er, you know who on SU blog any time threads fall in that direction.

  7. SteveH said,

    You could always ban me and leave you and your friends to agree how correct you are. That is how things are usually done around here.

  8. charliethechulo said,

    What a good idea.

  9. modernityblog said,

    I don’t think SteveH will be missed, he was a BNPer in the making, thick & prone to bigotry, he had too many preoccupations with, you know who.

  10. SteveH said,

    “you know who on SU blog any time threads fall in that direction.”

    Yes if there is a thread about Israel I will talk about Israel – what a shock! And actually it is you Modernity who has brought them up here for no reason. So maybe you are the one with the problem?

    “he was a BNPer in the making”

    Not at all hysterical. Is this what it is like on facebook? Quality, pure quality.

  11. Nadeem said,

    “It turns out that the ‘silent majority’ consists of around 350 people”

    Absolutely brilliant.

  12. modernityblog said,

    When I see a deranged individual, like SteveH, posting at SU blog, almost solely on Israeli related topics I am left with the feeling that the 1930s are still very much with us.

    I think the problem with such posts at SU blog is not necessarily the nature of the post, although ones by John Wight are often exceedingly problematic, the issue is one of *tone* & the comment threads.

    There is a vitriolic approach taken by the likes of SteveH, he almost spits out the word “Zionist”, and you’re left with the distinct impression that what he really means is Jew.

    Antiracists and antifascists will remember that “Zionist” is a common euphemism on the far right, for Jew, and it seems that SteveH and others have adopted that usage.

    I don’t say that merely because I find him an obnoxious individual without a grain of wits, but the fact he posts websites which link to racist material or conspiratorial notions is the real difficulty.

    Again, antifascists will remember that a central plank of anti-Jewish racism is conspiracy theories.

    Readers can scan SU blog via Google and see the barely concealed racism in SteveH’s posts and how he’s drawn to these peculiar web sites:

    [My apologies for posting the link but it is necessary as a public record]

    “Example of Israeli response to protest here:

    Comment by SteveH — 3 September, 2010 @ 1:52 pm”

    I’ll explain the issue with that site later on, but readers might want to view the site’s links and see the problem for themselves.

  13. modernityblog said,

    Another demented view of his:

    But, that Israel need to be wiped off the map is a given for me.

    Comment by SteveH — 16 May, 2011 @ 10:44 am”

  14. SteveH said,


    Please list the sites you think I have visited that link to the far right.

    I only ever visit left wing sites because I am interested in where left wing thought is going.

    The sites I visit often are:

    Socialist Unity
    Shiraz Socialist
    Liammac (when it existed)
    Louis Proyect
    Socialist Worker

    Your attempt at a smear campaign will not deter me I am afraid.

  15. SteveH said,

    Also I don’t just comment on Israel (this is Modernity’s conspiracy theory), but at Socialist unity many Harry’s place dwellers infect the site and usually turn the issue around to Israel, bit like Modernity has done here.

    Personally Israel is not the be all and end all for me but when I see the left supporting the racist state I can’t hide my disdain.

    Actually Modernity your whole previous commebnt was a conspiracy theory and ironically an attempt to mythologise my beliefs. Ironic because this is something the Nazi’s did.

    You have portrayed me as a BNP’er with no evidence or even a remote reason why that should be the case.

    You have said I am deranged even though you have never met me.

    You have said I post almost soley on Israeli topics which is an outright lie.

    You have said I spit out the word Zionist, which is pure conjecture.

    You have said what I really mean is Jew, which is frankly what you want me to believe.

    etc etc etc

  16. modernityblog said,

    Whilst I have a minute I would just pick apart, SteveH’s connection to racism.

    Readers may have been surprised by his recommendation of the link above:

    ““Example of Israeli response to protest here:

    Comment by SteveH — 3 September, 2010 @ 1:52 pm”

    But they will see the particular site that SteveH pushes has established links to conspiratorial and 9/11 Truther sites, along with those that publish Holocaust denying material.

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that at the roots of anti-Jewish racism is often conspiracy theories, that is not to say that everyone who believes in conspiracy theories is an antisemite, but every hard core antisemite is, by definition, a conspiracy theorist.

    However, don’t take my word for it, look at the This Can’t Be Happening’s links and make your own mind up:


    Progressive Voices

    Op Ed News


    Raw Story

    The Rip Post

    Common Dreams


    Media Lens

    Smirking Chimp

    Big Dreams Web”

    The ones that stand out are, Counterpunch which has a line in publishing anti-Jewish racism in the form of organ libel stories, Israel Shamir’s filth, etc

    Op Ed News, publishes material by the racist and conspiracy theorist, Stephen Lendman and Israel Shamir. is full of 9/11 conspiracy guff, holocaust denial and lots of “free Ernst Zundel” material, antifascist readers will remember Zundel as the publisher of “The Hitler We Loved and Why” booklet, David Irving gets a looking too, plus masses of Shamir’s filth.

    You get the picture.

    I am sure if I hunted thru some of the other sites I could find similar racist propaganda.

    That the type of site it is, and I haven’t even got started with Dave Lindorff.

    That’s the type of material SteveH reads. QED.

  17. modernityblog said,

    Readers might like to look up Zundel,

    Not nice!

  18. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘I don’t think SteveH will be missed, he was a BNPer in the making, thick & prone to bigotry, he had too many preoccupations with, you know who’.

    Funny how many swuppies fit that bill …

  19. modernityblog said,


    It is basic literacy, SteveH, like many thickos can’t read ANYTHING that isn’t spelt out in the nth degree.

    I mean, that whatever his politics now, he is going towards the far right.

    I don’t believe that people are fixed on a particular political spectrum and remain in that position permanently, anyone who studies fascism will see that even in the 1920s there were people supporting Mussolini who called themselves “socialists”, they weren’t, but that what’s they called themselves. I’d recommend Bosworth biography on Mussolini for details.

    Later on you can see people switching from the Left to the extreme right in the 1930s and 1940s.

    It’s not a common occurrence, and the majority of active anti fascists are on the Left, but we can’t ignore that phenomena, of someone who considers themselves on the Left one minute, then gradually takes up with racist material. It has happened to SWPers, anarchist and even members of the Red Army Faction

    It could equally start with conspiratorial notions, however, that in thethe commonality between them is irrationality in the particular individual that switches over.

    The lure of Far Right material is strong in the current climate, and they’ve learnt how to push their filth bit by bit as in outreach programs, which is why they use sites like Rense.

    But you could spend an afternoon trying to explain such things to SteveH, he is thick and insensitive to his own racism, which is why he reads conspiratorial web sites, etc etc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: