Having a voice online, and holding anything like a high profile position in the Labour Party, means that one’s utterances are often taken as the Voice of Labour. High profile means any officer position within the local organisation, or being elected.
I am not the Voice of Labour, not always anyway. I have had that role; being a Parliamentary candidate (twice) meant that I have been the Labour voice in Rayleigh (2005) and Castle Point (2010).
I can be the Voice. My (gradually reducing) roles mean that I can speak authoritatively on some matters. Otherwise, my views are the mere opinion of someone who happens to be a member of the Labour Party.
There are a number of Labour-supporting blogs in my corner of Essex. We do not all sound the same, and sometimes we disagree. We are not clones of each other, and debate and disagreement is an essential part of the political process. Actually, Labour in my corner of Essex is pretty united, but differences of opinion are there from time to time.
The official voice of the party locally is usually through the office of press officer. Each CLP, the LCF, and the Labour Group has a press officer and it must happen one day when they all express contrary opinions.
The web is a newish battleground politically, growing in importance but not yet the deciding factor in elections. However, I can attest that this blog, for instance, becomes a lot more popular in the few weeks before polling day and I am sure this is true for other blogs.
It is noticeable that some politicians create blogs just for the short campaign. The quality of debate is mixed, although I accept that what I like to read is a matter of taste. I do read the blogs of my opponents, and some of them I actually enjoy. Some of what they write makes me wince, but I can imagine that my occasional forays into absurdity must make my opponents wonder about my sanity (and to be honest I do wonder myself).
So, what blogs would I recommend? I still think Tony Cox is best amongst the Tories. He ticks a number of boxes for me: he writes regularly, speaks his mind, and comes across as a decent (if misguided) human being. The Independents give the appearance of having taken to the internet just for the short campaign, and too many are identikit copies of each other. Claire Bibby may be in desperate need of a proof-reader, but at least she sounds genuine and does not bang on about Anna Waite all the time.
Neil Monnery is guilty of being over-wordy, and occasionally maudlin, but his blog does include some real gems. He has little competition amongst Liberal Democrats in Southend, but if one also includes Online Focus (from Rochford) he would still stand out as the best from the yellows. I used to really enjoy Online Focus, but it has rather lost any political content of late.
I am an unashamed fan of Jack Monroe, but if I was to pick another Labour blog I would go for Ian Gilbert’s. He writes well, but not frequently enough for my liking. I am convinced that if anyone wants to make an impact as a blogger than one thing they have to crack is to have regular new material.