Wednesday 5 August 2009

Do We Need a Nationalist Website?

SNP Tactical voting has been asking if a Scottish nationalist blog, in the vein of Labourlist, ConservativeHome and LibdemVoice is necessary to promote the case for Scottish independence. An interesting concept but, in my view too late and now unnecessary.

If members of the SNP had decided this was the way to go with the online promotion of the cause for independence and it must be remembered that only a very small percentage of voters would look online for opinions and information, they should have taken this step long ago. To start one now would seem to be following the three UK parties instead of being part of them.

The SNP is a mainstream political party but, because it is classed as 'regional', it is really between a rock and hard place.

Part of the problem is the official SNP website which if you do a google search for 'Scottish independence' brings it as top. As any reader will realise I don't have a clue about website design but I would have thought the PR department in the SNP would have some idea, although it seems they do not. Unfortunately it is perhaps the least user friendly party website in the whole of UK politics. So many of my readers have asked me why it is so out-dated and difficult to browse but I have no answer. It appears neglected and therefore, in the online world, 'old'. The SNP say they are a modern party but their website certainly doesn't convey that message.

Of course Scottish independence is most important to the people who live and vote here, but it is also of great interest to those who live outside 'the border'. The case for Scottish independence should be known to an international audience and not kept within the tight confines of a Scottish clique. The Gathering was a superb example of ensuring our culture, which includes our political situation, is recognised far and wide. As a supporter of independence the thoughts of others matters to me, whether they are eligible to vote here or not.

As I commented on SNP Tactical Voting, unless someone can come up with a very handsome cheque, plus some SNP MPs and MSPs who decide to give time to promoting the cause online, then there is no point in a Nationalist type of site. As Julie says online promotion is time consuming.

The cause for independence is well represented in the blogosphere in various styles, but the message is the same. Perhaps Jeff's thoughts run to a blog which supports Scottish nationalism and is part of the recognised UK blogosphere. It would certainly need to be free of party influences and allow open debate.

I've decided most of the UK blogosphere do not even consider Scottish blogs as a major players, we are just regarded, as in EU speak, 'regional'.

I will be proved wrong of course and be delighted.


Wyrdtimes said...

I've often thought we could do with another nationalist website... but one for all nationalists rather than Scots, English, Irish or Welsh... a site for us all... where perhaps we could stop the insults and recriminations for once and work together to no longer be together - if you see what I mean.

I even registered a couple of suitable domain names for it... and

Motto "stronger apart"

Nationalist news, Blogs for each nation, Forum. etc.

Would be a massive project and may well never happen - any thoughts?

Will said...

I'm interested in your thought that, "most of the UK blogosphere do not even consider Scottish blogs as a major players, we are just regarded, as in EU speak, 'regional'."

I think it goes further than that: the issues, the discourse and the dynamic are so different between the Scottish blogosphere and what I tend to call the Westminster-centric blogosphere (neither 'UK' nor 'English' quite describe it well enough for my liking) that while there are some points of overlap, the Scottish blogosphere is entirely distinct from, rather than a subset of, the rest of the UK's online presence.

So you have different points of clash (Nationalist-Unionist rather than Left-Right), different headlines (Holyrood and the goings-on there tend to be the priority), a different approach to fellow bloggers (a more inclusive community as opposed to the 'two tribes' in the Westminster-centric blogosphere which see Left and Right occasionally descending into outright, even self-destructive hostility - such as some prominent Left Wing blogs calling for a boycott of the Top 100 as it was organised by Iain Dale) and different key players.

Maybe the Scottish blogosphere isn't just regional: maybe it's autonomous from the rest of the UK online community. Maybe it's - dare I say it - independent?

Perhaps ordinary people with an internet connection have created online what politicians have not yet been able (or willing) to achieve in real life: an independent (Cyber) Scotland?

subrosa said...

It would be a massive project right enough Wyrd and it would require 4 people (one from each country) just for starters.

Tim Montgomerie et al don't make a living from their sites as far as I'm aware, so I wonder if anyone would really be interested.

I agree we need a good 'shop window' for independence, but if the SNP site is anything to go by then there's little interest in a strong online representation from supporters of Scottish independence.

Then of course there's the EU perspective which certainly would need to be included. Ah the list is endless.

Clarinda said...

Not only might we benefit from a higher profile website - but forgive me - we need a public figure-head with a creative turn of phrase to capture reason and passion? Reading over some of Oliver Brown's writing, his knowledge of history, his cultural and political understanding sharpened with an intelligent and humourous edge - his was a powerful voice.

With political debate on TV and radio reduced to the sound-bite of tittle-tattle; the general public not used or prepared to attend political discussions of anything more substantial than red-top headline bashing - the opportunity and orator are at a premium. Websites and blogs, however encompassing, independent or embattled, may be only preaching to the converted (or in the case of some trolls - a masochistic exercise) and therefore of little influence beyond their groupies.

The media, ravenous for the scant remains from skeletons in our cupboards, repel those who otherwise may contribute. If the best we can come up with is the tugid and inappropriate Flower of Scotland or the b***** awful Highland Cathedral as our anthems when we ignore the essential enlightened richness of our poets, writers, thinkers and ancient musiccal composers - what hope a nominated website? The ones we have should just get better and better!

subrosa said...

Will, yes I think you're right saying the Scottish blogosphere is distinct from the UK. I tend to view it from an 'Iain Dale' perspective which of course is Westminster-centric.

I would like to think it has a separate identity but, at present, we seem overpowered by the 'big boys' and therefore how do we establish an independent cyber Scotland?

Certainly many bloggers from outwith Scotland are interested in Scottish politics and I appreciate that. Of course they don't have a vote but they contribute valuable views.

Now, I've no technical know-how but perhaps the Scottish blogosphere needs a portal of some kind in which all bloggers can promote their blogs, not just political bloggers. I'm thinking something along the lines of the Total Politics setup.

No doubt someone will tell me that would be an expensive project but a database shouldn't be too difficult to control. The problems arise with ensuring it was always on the first page of a Scotland associated search.

McGonagall said...

I quite like the direction that Bella Caledonia is heading in - towards a portal for information and opinion. But it would benefit National aspirations to have an "authorotative" blog on all things Scots. That would require a full time dedicated team of well educated and working full time. I just don't see that happening.

So I put my hope in Bella Caledonia.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article Subrosa.

Im wobbling from left to right on a the concept of a mainstream SNP blog.

It all depends on what model and format it takes. I personally would like to see a mainstream SNP blog on the lines of Conservative home, they roll out party polices and events and report what the media are saying on the party. Its like a rolling commentary of the daily life of the party and has a well used comments section.

I enjoy commenting on the blog and its easy to navigate.

So what im saying is, i would like to see an SNP mainstream blog set up with a rolling commentary of what the party is doing on a daily basis and for people to comment on. Its important we have the chance to post our thoughts on anything that they publish but it would have to be checked every so often because it could descend into a Scotsman mark 2 with Labour apologists ruining the site like they do elsewhere .

Also the hostile pro Labour media in Scotland would pick up on any over the top comments and label it as pro SNP policy's.

The SNP have the brains to launch a blog like the other mainstream ones but they have possibly stayed away from the idea because of the Scottish media hawks looking for tiny bits of gossip.

The current SNP website i find is fine, just the browsing sometimes spews out something totally random.

All they have to do is add a comments facility under each article and bobs your uncle, we have our blog.

Maybe another concept could be a bit like the Steamie and that a different MSP can post his/her thoughts each day on any issue.

Ach i don't know and i agree with you, i doubt having the blog would shift opinion anyway.

Im wobbling on the idea but from reading your take on it and others im 50/50.

subrosa said...

That is one of the hazards Clarinda, that a new blog would only attract the converted and that's certainly not what I envisage.

What is needed is something which attracts all political persuasions and none, or at least is a front for it. Unionists should be entitled to debate plus of course those with any interest in Scotland.

Awe, I rather like Highland Cathedral played by a good pipe band so long as it's around a mile away!

There are some excellent Scottish bloggers who aren't promoted. Scottish Roundup does an excellent job and some of the wee people like me try to link to them but it's certainly not enough.

subrosa said...

I rather like it too these days scunnert. My thinking is we're too late in the day to have something along the lines of the other parties.

subrosa said...

Now Spook, I didn't say an mainstream SNP blog, I said a nationalist website. Something without everyone toeing the party line and agreeing with each other.

I think the SNP blog is so boring Spook, it doesn't do anything for me in the least and I'm usually there because I'm looking for something specific. What browsers think of it I don't know.

The SNP is the party website and really can't be involved but it could do with a makeover.

Any change in your 50/50 now? :)

Anonymous said...


Okay point taken, im 49/51 lol.

Your right about the SNP,s website though, it is a bit mundane but can come in useful for links and info as i have often used it.

Och im just happy at the blogs we have, would be good though if we had a few more. A lot of the SNP blogs on the directory are obsolete.

subrosa said...

Shame there isn't a better balance with more tory and labour blogs though.

I thought Kez had stopped blogging but I see she's still at it. I took her off my blogroll too.

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