Motivations and Beginnings
We started in the run-up to the 2005 UK General Election, although we have been blogging elsewhere for some time. There were two main motivations:
1, We had become disillusioned with politics and the political system, despite being lifelong politics junkies/anoraks (please delete the less offensive term) and were becoming dangerously apathetic. Nevertheless we felt that most people weren't apathetic, but felt excluded. We wanted to communicate and connect with people and fight off our sense of powerlessness and despair.
2, We felt the election was going to provide the nation with a tidal wave of bullshit and someone had to provide an umbrella.
We have no advertisers or outside support. We're not highly paid, to put it mildly, but we support the site out of our own pocket. The nearest we get to any financial support is that if you sign up with Servage we get two months free hosting.
Who writes for Blairwatch?
Ringverse and quarsan are old friends and were the initial writers. Since then others have joined the core team. There was, and is, no system or procedure in place for joining the writing team, we just saw some consistent and interesting commenters and asked them to join. We've not asked other writers their political leanings or membership and we're not really looking for 'me too' types, but we can offer a space to interesting people who can add something extra.
What do we stand for?
A suprisingly tricky question to answer. There is no 'Blairwatch position' or stance, but what seems to be a common ground of wanting an open accountable government, electoral reform and so forth.
How do we make decisions?
Well, it has been said that we do have highly evolved evasive skills when it comes to decision time. Essentially there are few occasions where we have to make any. Each contributor is free to write on the subject of their choice and whenever they want.
When we have had to think about something, or make a decision, we send round an email to all contributors and ask for comments. So far we've found a consensus easy to obtain. We may have strong opinions but we're not obsessives or dogmatic and internal discussion has been pleasantly conducted.
Our success has made us think about what we write and how we write it. We try to work to serious journalistic standards, ie we check sources, research items and have a range of confidential contacts who act as unofficial advisors.
The Mainstream Media and Us
We don't see ourselves as being opposed to the established media and we have worked with them on stories, providing background material, interviews etc. We are trying to gain experience and understand how they work, even though some can be reluctant to give credit ; )
In the longer term we see blogs and progressive media working together.
Clearly Tony's on his way out but we will continue. Our job is not done and we would argue in a healthy democracy our job will need to continue. In a broken democracy it would be negligent for us to pack up shop when there's a new occupant in Downing St.
Brownwatch? Johnsonwatch? Cameronwatch?
We will have to have a think about the name, but I, personally, am in favour of keeping the name Blairwatch for two reasons:
1, People already know the name
2, We can change the strap line from Blairwatch - Cronicling the decline of the New Labour project to Blairwatch - A proud part of Tony's legacy.
Other Blairwatch contributors may feel differently - that Blairwatch would be outdated - and we could change names. We'll have a think and let you know the outcome.
Whoever is in power, we will be watching them. Thanks to bloggers, the surveillence society can work both ways.