Farewell to blogging

by Peter Watt

Well it had to happen at some point I guess.  After nearly three years and (I think) just under 150 posts I am giving up political blogging.  I have in all honesty been treading a fine line for a while now as I have tried to balance the competing pressures of my “day job” and my blogging.  It seems a long time ago now but the person who asked me to write for Uncut first was John McTernan; but I said no as I was still unsure as to whether or not I wanted to raise my head above the parapet.

My book had caused a bit of a stir earlier that year and I decided to keep my head down.  But then Tom Watson asked me to write a post when he was guest editing the site.  My first post was during the leadership contest and was advice for the incoming leader – something of a recurring theme!

Originally I wrote the occasional post and then one every other week before finally agreeing with Sion Simon that I would write a weekly post for Thursday mornings.  Sometimes they flowed easily and at others they were a complete nightmare.  At times I felt I could’ve written on a whole range of issues and at times I struggled to find any subject at all.  But I am pleased to say that I have not missed a post since; and that includes writing posts on holiday and over Christmas.   I’m not absolutely sure that my wife Vilma is as pleased about this as I am.

I have enjoyed the variety of people from across the political spectrum that have commented on, tweeted or messaged me about my posts.  It’s funny how sometimes I wrote things that I was really pleased with and no one seemed to notice.  At other times I would rush off something that I was unsure of and it would seem to hit the mark.  Occasionally people seem to feel that they could be rude as opposed to simply disagreeing with me.  It bothered me a bit at first but not anymore.

Most of all though, writing my weekly post has been a fantastic piece of self-indulgence.  I could get things of my chest or make a point and others seemed interested.  Bits were occasionally used in news reports or sparked someone else to write a post arguing against mine.  And it was fun.  I hope that I have also occasionally made a useful contribution to the political debate along the way.

A few final thoughts before I sign off, things that I guess have been themes of much of what I have written.

Political parties really are in a lot of trouble.  They all say that they know this and that they are doing something about it.  But I really don’t think that the full extent of the disconnect between the bubble that most readers of political blogs inherit and the rest of the world is fully felt.  This may be a blip and may right itself; but I strongly suspect that it is a strong trend that has a way to go.  The fact that elections continue to take place with winners and losers is not evidence that the current system is in good health.

Politicians and politicos spend lots of time slagging each other off.  “Same old Tories,” “socialist scum” or whatever.  It is really, really unattractive.  The truth is that there is some good and some bad in all of the parties – people as well as policies.  Most voters really don’t feel the animosity in the way that we do.  To my Tory friends – Labour, even under Ed, aren’t communists or statists.  And to my Labour friends – the Tories are really not evil and the world as we know it is not in the process of ending since the election in 2010.  There are fundamental and passionate disagreements, and of course we need to differentiate but let’s not over do it!  It really is okay to say that your opponent got something right, or even that they got something wrong without questioning their motives for trying.

And finally a plea.  Political parties demand loyalty and I understand that this is important.  But loyalty is not blind; in fact blind loyalty is not desirable.   The public see straight through the politician trying to hold a line in the face of a hostile interview and it adds to their sense that politicians lie.  Just as the rest of life has responded to the impact of the information age so must political parties.  Most people understand that most issues are complicated and that there are shades and nuances.  They really can live with a bit of “messiness” in political discourse.

It is okay to disagree.

Which is why I think that Labour Uncut is important; it has not been afraid to tackle difficult issues and say uncomfortable things.  We don’t want the blogosphere (do we still say that?) on the left to be just a cheerleader; cheerleading is fine but it’s not enough.  Certainly not if we want to remain relevant.

To be honest, that is me done.  So to the Labour Uncut team, thanks for publishing my posts.

And to those who read them, thank you for reading.

Peter Watt was general secretary of the Labour party

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9 Responses to “Farewell to blogging”

  1. Nick says:

    Occasionally people seem to feel that they could be rude as opposed to simply disagreeing with me. It bothered me a bit at first but not anymore.


    Therein lies the problem.

    1. You would not enter into any discussion.

    The conclusion is that you just want to dictate to others.

    2. In terms of what you’ve said in the past.

    You have not realised the shit you have left this country in.

    1,200 bn of debt.
    5,300 bn plus of pensions debts hidden off the books. Why would you want to do that?

    The end result is that you have lied. It’s a statement of fact not a question of politics.

    There are plenty of other liars in Westminster, its across the board.

    3. Even your view on migration are racists.

    You’ve tried to justify mass migration by saying that migrants are better than British. That’s complete racist nonsense and you should no better.

    4. Political parties really are in a lot of trouble.

    Of course. It’s because of the lies and the deceit and the mess you have left.

    For example. Pensions.

    26K a year earner who had put their NI into the FTSE would have received 627,000 pounds (with fees of 0.75% per year).

    The state pension costs 152,000, and even that is being cut.

    You’ve pissed away 450,000 pounds of retirement money for a 26K a year worker. That is criminal, not matter why you did it.

    Even what’s left you can’t pay, because it totals 5,300 bn.

    5. Expenses.

    Why did 52% of MPs pay back money? Because they are fraudsters. They signed a document saying the money was wholly and necessary for their job as an MP. That is making a fraudulent document. 2006 Fraud act.

    6. Expenses 2

    What were the other MPs doing by looking the other way?

  2. swatantra says:

    Good luck!

  3. Felix says:

    Bon débarras!

  4. Brian Capaloff says:

    ‘The Tories are really not evil’? Sorry, but as I look to what people such as IDS & Gove are up to I really cannot believe this

  5. John Reid says:

    Sad to hear you’re going Peter, there’s a few issues that still excite me, Blue Labour types ,like Glasman ,Cruddas and Natascha Engl calling for a referendum on the EU, John Woodcocks view on we Believe in Israel, the Co-op, the Fabian, young Labour, learning from barrack Obama

  6. David says:

    Best of luck Peter. I have enjoyed reading your blogs and agreed with a lot, though not all by any means, of what you said.

    Its a shame you are not continuing because I suspect you would have a lot of material as all 3 of the big, established, parties are really struggling to come up with a cohesive set of policies that could keep their core constituencies on side and attract a sufficient number of the centre to gain anything like a majority.

    Coalition again next time round I think and it could well be cat amongst the pigeons stuff involving more than two parties!

  7. Anon E Mouse says:

    Good luck fella. Along with Dan Hodges you were one of the few Labour bloggers who actually gets it.

  8. enough says:

    I am sick of being bashed by both Newspeak Labour and the ‘cons. as someone who is long-term precariait has been so tough that moving forward (particularly since 2010) has been practically impossible) I’ve done my best to study to get the skills and the content I am held in by ppl really calling the shots has already killed sum1 I know it’s now killing me. Look at the way sick and disabled are treated ( or any1 unemployed) pushed into harsh and inappropriate jobs for example ( James Purnell cough cough), the clampdown on liberties, the scapegoating of the powerless. Serious offences are committed against us everyday. I do not mince my words. Start dealing with the ppl at the top scapegoating us pls.Ppl are dead because of coalition policies.

  9. Millie says:

    It’s impitareve that more people make this exact point.

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