I have been shamed. I am not worthy.
For two reasons: firstly I realise that recently I have been posting quite a lot of Centre Left articles on the blogsites Labour List, Labour Uncut and Left Foot Forward (some of them modestly successful, though I say it myself). But you, dear readers, who have been kind enough loyally to subscribe to my blog, deserve at least to be able to read things here that you can't read anywhere else. So, I hereby promise to ensure that, at least once or twice a week, I will post here JUST FOR YOU (you lucky people).
The second reason for my mea culpa is that a couple of weeks ago veteran blogger Hopi Sen started a post with the words "I never link enough to other people", and then promptly linked to an article of mine. If Hopi can take the time to single out his fellow bloggers, so can I. I often link to articles on the Labour contributor sites and press but not to people who take their time to write and maintain their own stuff, which frankly is a bit rubbish - there are few enough of us as it is, and we should really be encouraging people to read other independent blogs. The great advantages of independent blogging, of course, are that you don't have to write for a particular audience and no-one edits your stuff.
In the interests of propagating the genre, and generally spreading a bit of link-love, then, here is a list of quality, independent left-wing blogs I read on a semi-regular basis, over and above the media and the left-wing blogsites. They are all people who do it like me, for love, starving in a garret with nothing but a candle for company (I slightly over-emphasise, but you get the point). Not only are they sensible, rather than nutters, but with all of them I have at one time or another exchanged words, tweets or other banter and to me seem like rather decent human beings as well. Bookmark them and you will significantly improve your political thinking.
Hopi Sen is, like me, a former Labour staffer-turned-blogger who is furthermore not only clever and knowledgeable but also writes with great wit. Scarlet Standard (Emma Burnell) is a bit more lefty than me but is fair, straight and knows what she believes in. I respect that. Luke Akehurst manages to be sensible, moderate and still a member of the NEC Constituency section (you'll have to ask him how he manages that). Tom Watson is yet another former staffer, although he went and sold out and became an MP (just kidding Tom) and has been a tireless promoter of the use of the internet in politics (unlike me, who took a break for about, er, 10 years after setting up the Party's website). Alastair Campbell clearly doesn't need me to introduce him, but you would be foolish not to read such a first-class political brain, agree with him or not. And Martin in the Margins is a well-read liberal-left independent thinker with no time for lefty dogmas (we need more of those).
A couple more people who I have never had contact with but whose blogs I have picked up over recent weeks: Norman Geras and Marbury (Ian Leslie). There are many other great blogs such as the Fabians' nextleft, which are afiliated to some body rather than personal, so don't count for my list (sorry Sunder).
And that's it - my overall point being that we bloggers shouldn't perhaps worry so much about getting the big viewing figures of the press or the main contributor sites, although obviously it's a useful thing to do if you want more people to read your stuff.
We should also all try at the same time, as it were, to dance like no-one is watching*.
*For those who have seen me dance, you may think this isn't such a good idea. My wife, the night we met, said she fell for me because of what she thought was my great sense of humour, for being able to dance in such a satirical and amusing way. No, I said, somewhat crestfallen. I really do dance like this.