Home > General Politics > Should we stay or should we go?

Should we stay or should we go?

At a bloggers’ cheese and wine event last night Carl and I spoke to the good people at Third Estate about the possibility of moving over to their place.

I won’t rehearse the arguments for such a move, other than to say that group blogging seems to be the thing to do at the moment, and neither of us are posting quite as regularly as before, so it may make sense.  Both of us have moved where we blog in the last year or two, and we’re not prissy about blog ownership, as long as we get to write what we want without editorial nonsensing.

So, questions, dear reader(s):

1) Does anyone really give a monkey’s?

2) Is there any justification for staying here?

3) Anything else?

This results of this consultation will be reviewed carefully.  Probably.

Categories: General Politics
  1. Mil
    May 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Hmm. I for one would only be especially unhappy if you moved and didn’t keep online the stuff TCF has done over the past few years. Its value is pretty much incalculable – well, I’m not bright enough to calculate it anyhow. So if moving means TCF goes offline, that’s a no from me. And if cost is an issue, I’d be happy to contribute to keep it online – even if this then means it’ll be preserved in aspic.

    • May 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      All articles would be archived luckily, but really the idea behind the move is building a blog with lots of near-like-minded people blogging in the same place. At the moment Paul and I feel obliged to blog to fill space – which jeopardises the quality I think.

      • Bob
        May 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        You shouldn’t feel obliged, and it doesn’t feel like you do. Some of your posts are rather longer than a typical LibCon post, for example, and it is fine to give people time to digest rather than focus on new content. 3E has gone through periods of almost no posting, with no negative effect.

  2. Strategist
    May 24, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    If you have to go anywhere, Third Estate looks pretty good!

    • May 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Now I’ve met all the estaters, I can safely say they’re lefty and hairy enough to incorporate the less hairy, no-less lefty like of Paul and I.

  3. sunny h
    May 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I’m all for consolidation, and yes, group blogs are better!

  4. May 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I can’t imagine Reuben et al wanting any editorial veto over anything, so there shouldn’t really be anything to lose. You’ll probably also gain readers (although I imagine there’s a big cross over)

    Only problem is that Though Cowards Flinch has a better name and tag line than the Third Estate, which I always thought was kinda naff (sorry TTE peeps reading this). However, The Third Coward sounds brilliant, a little like a pub name actually.

    PS Bring back Dave! Or at least pass on my best wishes.

    • May 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      The editorial thing was the bargaining chip – perhaps this is the wrong way to look at it, and I might get my hands slapped for saying this, but it’s only blogging.

  5. May 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I care.

    I was planning to e-mail Carl today to ask him if I could do another guest post, which if I were big-headed I’d take as indication that you have the critical mass to be the go-to group blog on the British thinking left, altho maybe it just indicates I have bad timing.

    I’ll miss you if you go. I just checked, and TCF was 5 months old when I first came here (arguing with Dave Semple about liberal imperialism) and started following you guys.

    But the Third Estate looks like as good a destination as any if you do. I like the way 3rd Estate is eclectic rather than party line, and its writers are often unpredictable and contrarian. If the blog is not a personal blog, there seems little justification to keep it in separate existence if there is another group blog with a similar outlook that you get on well with – unless you have a Unique Selling Point that gives you a reason to be stay seperate.

    I’m trying to think what your USP might be – civil and intelligent debate in the comment threads rather than sectarianism and stupidity, longer and more thoughtful posts taking a lot of space rather than just made for measure snappy op eds, a critical distance from the dogmas of the various left parties but also a radical rather than Labour liberal ethos. But I guess 3E shares some of those things.

    Writing as someone about half way in age between Carl and Paul, I like that mix of pespectives here too, whereas 3E feels slightly self-consciously youthy to me, but I guess that’s not much of an issue.

    And, re Mil, if you do move absolutely don’t disappear this site as an archive of lots of good stuff. And try and get Duncan to post more.

    • May 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      You’ll be glad to know BfB that the last post Dave posted was supportive of western intervention in the Arab world – hot potato or what! https://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2011/03/27/weighing-in-on-a-no-fly-zone/

      TCF has a USP, and I hope it is transferred over at 3E (this is beginning to sound very board meeting like) but I know what you mean about the youthy feel – perhaps Paul would see to rectify that heh.

      I concur about Duncan too.

  6. May 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Well, I think you should stay where you are as it gives you more independence and an identity. Being swallowed up into another blog doesn’t give you a huge obvious advantage. You built up an established blog why move? Yes, there are benefits with group blogs (I confess I prefer being by myself and doubt very much if I would go for a group blog again after personal negative head f*ck experiences) But there can be issues of ownership, identity and can arise issues of blog domination. Though it is up to you what you conclude at the end of the day (another issue is democracy of a blog) and what you feel is the right thing to do and no doubt my downer on group blogging stems from very bad shite cyber fingers burnt experiences.

    Good luck to whatever you decide, I know I have very big political differences with you all (No, really:) But it is about engagement, debate, disagreements and so on. And you all have something necessary to say and I appreciate that. So my vote is for you to stay and not lose that brand that is TCF!!

    • May 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      This is a very convincing argument Louise, and in all honesty providing I’m given a space where I can just rattle off my thoughts of the day, I don’t care if there’s 10 or 1000 readers. When Paul and Dave asked if i wanted to write at TCF it was because I thought TCF was one of the best radical blogs online, but I think the plan was to get more like me to help increase TCF output. We therefore have a choice: we can convince other bloggers to sell up shop and write here, or we can go to somewhere where there is less pressure to fill up space.

      Though I buy th argument about individuality and identity, I guess the real argument is about time – so moving is the option that supports this particular argument.

      • May 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm

        I can’t claim impartiality on this one, but I can say you’ll have exactly the same independence on The Third Estate as you have here. I can’t remember us ever vetoing anything that went up. We might argue strongly against it in the comments section, but the concept of pluralist group blogging breaks down when people start vetoing each others articles. Louise, I take your point, but I think your experience with Socialist Unity is atypical of the group blog experience. I started out on Socialist Unity, and as much respect as I have for my roots, that place is a sectarian boxing ring and dominated by one writer. Neither of those issues apply to us.

  7. May 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Yeah, actually reading Harpy I think she’s right. My previous comment started with Why not? But the right question is Why?

    And, like her, I have big political disagreements with you at least some of the time, but enjoy reading the posts and debates, which are, I think, much higher quality than 3E. Not least the comments from the prolific and erudite Arthur B, altho obviously I disagree with him too!

    • May 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

      Thanks Bob:)

    • May 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      I hope very much that Arthur can keep keeping us (esp. me) on our toes – I have to say if the regular commenters don’t follow then I’ll change my mind.

  8. paulinlancs
    May 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Ta for the comments, everyone.

    My instinctive reaction is to do the opposite of what Sunny advises, and there does seem to be some support for staying here (indeed a good deal more support for the blog than I thought there was).

    One thing against moving that I missed out is gender balance. Here at TCF with two blokes it can look accidental. 8 or 9 males at 3E could look deliberate, though it’s not. We have tried before to engage more women voices here, but with no success other than around IWD. Any further suggestions anyone? Or does it really matter?

    • May 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      The gender imbalance is entirely accidental. We used to have one great female writer, Liz Stephens, and we have a fair few guest posts from female writers. While I’d like to correct the imbalance, I’m not in favour of taking on female writers for tokenistic reasons. We take on the best writers we can. Usually this happens through the accident of friendship circles. Liz joined us through an ad we put on W4MP, and I think that might be the way to go in the future.

      • May 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

        I hate female writing anyway, it’s just not as good as the real thing is it.

  9. May 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Wouldn’t allowing The Third Estate to crosspost anything from here have all the advantages without any of the difficulties of moving over there wholesale?

    From a selfish point of view, I’m not that fussed as I already read both blogs, but I’m not sure you can be absolutely certain that you’ll carry all your readers from here elsewhere.

    p.s. Kick Duncan and make him do more posts.

    • May 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      I know that The Third Estate(3E) has a no-cross posting rule, or at least they did, and may be less inclined to do that – but perhaps that is a possibility. It could perhaps even be part of a broader aim for 3E to be a hub of left wing thought, to undercut the hegemony of the main left wing blogs.

      (This capitalism lark is quite exciting it turns out!)

      • May 27, 2011 at 12:26 am

        It’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s something we did in the early days so we could distinguish ourselves from the myriad lefty blogs out there. I don’t see the harm in the odd cross post here and there and though personally speaking I tend to prefer the idea of a blog with exclusive content, I see no reason why you couldn’t write for both blogs.

  10. Mil
    May 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I really needed to say a bit more on this subject – for what they’re worth, some thoughts over at my place:


  11. May 27, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I wasn’t sure whether in would be appropriate for me to comment, so feel free to delete this, but a fewthings caught my eye.

    I wasn’t actually aware that we came across as *that* youthy – but the accumulating evidence suggests that we do. That’s not something I aspire to. The tendency amongst to associate left politics and social media with youthiness really grates on me – and if a joining up with TCF could partially rectify our apparent youthiness, that would be great from my perspective.

    Mil’s post is incredibly interesting. I recommend everyone reads it. What he suggests is that a process of corporatisation is going on online, with the likes of facebook and google building their own empires, and that this proposal is in some way analogious to that ( I hope my summary hasn’t done too much violence to his argument). “There are” he says, “other ways to bring free voices together which don’t require a submission to common corporate image, tools and philosophies”.

    What occurred to me as I read it is that some kinds of agglomeration are completely different from others. Take, for example, the coming together of many different organisations to form the original labour representation committee – this was analogious to the formation of a business conglomerate. That might seem like a glib comparison, but I think it is relevant particularly here. That’s because for most of the C20th Labour was very self consciously a composite organisation, comfortable with its identity as a coalition of potentially divergent interests and opinions. This I hope is very much how the third estate comes across, and how a TTE-TCF project would be. We are, as commenters have noted an underpredictable , pluralistic left blog – wherein, I think it would difficult to unproblematically distill a single “corporate image”. (oh shit I’ve just compared myself to Keir Hardie). I don’t think it is a place where the TCF voice would be “subsumed”, but where it would coexist.

    What is awful about the emergence of corporate on line empires, is that content is pulled together and concentrated, but not on the basis of any actual commonalities. There is no coincidence values or ideas that bring me and my next door neighbour to pool our content on the same websites, like facebook or twitter. Much like the conglomeration of industry in the C20th was driven by the logic of the machine and not the agency of man/woman. This however is something different. This is about people with shared ideas, and similar aims, potentially making the concious decision to pool our efforts.

    • Mil
      May 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      I think the idea of what we might call a federal structure along the lines I think you might be suggesting is better. A common homepage along the lines of:


      could be set up.

      This would allow individual personalities and thoughts as expressed in the physicality of the web to continue to exist in their own places behind such a page – each then could thus choose, as now, the software code, tools, permissions, infrastructures and image which most suited, and yet still collaborate in a common project with a common image as a starting point (perhaps gathering point would be better).

      The best of both worlds perhaps? Question is, what to call it …

  12. May 27, 2011 at 12:24 am

    correction! – meant to say the formation of the LRC WASN’t analogious to a business merger!

  13. paulinlancs
    May 27, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I really don’t know what to think anymore. I thought this would generate one or two half-hearted ‘see ya later thens’ and it’s turned into a full blow discussion, led by Mil particularly on some stuff I don’t really have the mental agility to follow. I really respect Mil’s point of view on this, though, and the bits of the argument I understand are persuasive.

    And actually I’d secretly hoped I came across as less decrepit than I actually am; as I explained to Jon from TTE over the canapes and white wine the other night, I’ve actually been ‘politicised’ for less years than many people half my age. But, heh, perhaps I do ‘write old’.

  14. Duncan
    May 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Reading this post reminded me – I’m ashamed to say since I had forgotten – that I have posting rights here and never actually write anything. I think the move to the Third Estate is a good idea.

  15. Jon
    May 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve been quiet on the comments section over here of late, but once upon a time weighed in heavily, and still have TCF set as one of my homepages. It’s the first left-wing blog I started reading semi-religiously, and some of the debates here have played a big part in big decisions I’ve made, politically.

    I’m not sure whether my lack of comments here are because I’ve got less to say, or because what little I used to say I now say on Twitter, but I still read almost every post here, which is more than I can say about any other blog.

    Paul, I’m not sure that you “blog old”, but rather “blog practical”, with discussion of concrete things that can be done and a distinctive air of the Victorian polymath about everything you write. Unless explicitly stated, your writing usually deals with something very real without conflating it unnecessarily into a conceptual debate. You are, if you like, the anti-Laurie Penny.

  16. May 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    “Paul, I’m not sure that you “blog old”, but rather “blog practical”, with discussion of concrete things that can be done and a distinctive air of the Victorian polymath about everything you write… You are, if you like, the anti-Laurie Penny.”


  1. April 5, 2012 at 10:41 am
  2. May 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

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