Why NetrootsUK is Doomed to Fail

Netroots UK is the project by centre-left bloggers to “build the progressive grassroots online” in order to…

…make better links between campaigners from the worlds of politics, environment, development, civil liberties, unions, community groups…

…to share ideas for using social media to campaign against fiscal sanity the cuts. It all sounds terribly worthy, and I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than attend an event sponsored by the TUC where the key-note speakers include the likes of Sunny Hundal of liberal conspiracy, Sunder Katwala of the Fabians and Brendan Barber Current occupant of the Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov memorial chairmanship of the All-Union Central Council of Trades Unions.

Of course this is all new to the Lefties. For the last 13 years as the social media cranked up, a broadly sympathetic Labour party was in power. Online activism consisted of emotional blackmail of Labour members and persuasion of more or less influential MPs to sign early day motions. Once the Party lost power, their activism returned to type – violent protest, with the people smashing things and chucking bricks broadly condoned by the more moderate elements because it’s a symptom of “the anger we all feel”.

This “anger” is not directed at the policies for most of the “activists” at the rallies and demonstrations. It is tribal. The Labour party is not in power, so they’re now free to indulge their adolescent angst. It doesn’t work. The students had broad support, until they started disrespecting the cenotaph and pissing on the Statue of Sir Winston Churchill. Now the Government has a sympathetic ear from the tax-payer as they explain how their policy isn’t the herodic horror it’s been painted by the NUS.

So in order to “fight the cuts” the TUC is organising a day of speeches, and (FFS, they are parodies of themselves) ‘workshops’ in order to thrash out the unified message they’ll try to sell the rest of us. No enemies to the left, don’t split on the Labour brothers, don’t wash the movement’s dirty linen in public. Self-proclaimed “voice of a Generation” and New Statesman hack, Laurie Penny put it nicely

We’re listening politely whilst appointed arbiters of the centre-left mow the grassroots into a neat, acceptable bourgeois lawn .

Compare with the Right, Tory and Libertarian blogosphere which united to oppose the savagely illiberal and fiscally incompetent Labour government. I write about what interests me, for no-ones’s benefit but myself. If anyone’s persuaded or wants to argue, great! If someone thinks it’s useful, even better. Otherwise, I don’t care. Because there was no attempt at all from CCHQ to manage or control the message, or in anyway organise the message (I know – the Pre-Election bloggers’ forums organised for sympathetic bloggers by Eric Pickles which I attended were more by way of “thank-you” piss-ups), it was more credible. Guido, Conhome and Iain Dale built their readership BECAUSE they aren’t mere salesmen for the party. The bloggers who railed against the Labour government are now taking David Cameron to task, perhaps without the rage, but remaining independent of the Party and true to whatever grinds their axe. Even Conservative Home is often highly critical of the Leadership, whereas Guido often mocks the lefties for their complete refusal to cover stories damaging to the Left.

The result of this partisan hackery is that,under the pretext of getting rid of the Trolls (in practice this means ‘people who disagree’) and using the “network” the left-wing twitterati and blogosphere will build up at Netroots UK, they will end up speaking only to themselves. Enjoy your earnest, but deeply boring discussions about how to build a “progressive consensus” in the hermetically sealed echo-chamber of tedious student-union Marxists who never grew up. You can guarantee you’ll persuade no-one who doesn’t already agree that Red Ed’s problem is that he’s just not Left-wing enough.

3 replies
  1. atlanticjaxx
    atlanticjaxx says:

    Fair piece, well put.

    I consider myself an independent leftie, and this summary rings true to me.

    Most of the visible nouveau left (and Labour Party) are comprised of well-to-do middle class who ignore the poor and hate the rich and have no understanding of reality.

  2. Denny
    Denny says:

    I was at this event, it didn't feel very Labour-tainted to me. They did get a good slagging off from the audience at several points though.

    I think you may be building a straw man here.


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