Total Politics: Top 20 NI Blogs…

Fair play to Iain, he managed to get over 2,200 people voting in his poll for the top Northern Irish blogs this year… We (just, I imagine) retained our top spot, with Splintered coming straight in at number 2, no doubt his pet subject du jour will have garnered him a lot of fans…

I’ve given him a bit of mention in my review of the Irish blogosphere for 2010, which for now you’ll have to buy the book to read it… Also worth mentioning is Ulster’s Doomed which due to the sad loss of it’s passionate author is no longer active… and Lee’s Ultonia blog, which for my money is currently on fire…

Still, even allowing for a GB and centre right bias in the online readership of Iain’s blog and Total Politics, it confirms that with the exception of Splintered, and O’Conall Street most of the top and most active NI blogs are currently coming from the Unionist sector…

And there’s a good spread from the urbane conversational style of Lord Belmont to the prolific and often controversial Tangled Web… So, Nationalist bloggers, it must be time to get your collective fingers out…

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  • Drumlin Rock

    Mick, the Nationalist bloggers just use Slugger instead! lol

  • Alan Maskey

    No mentione of Gery Adams’ blog. That is all The Faithiful need.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we have your suggestions for twenty which should have made the top 20?

  • edgeoftheunion
  • Mick Fealty

    My bad… it’s in there now…

  • edgeoftheunion

    Something is wrong

  • edgeoftheunion

    Two posts have gone astray. Here goes again

    Drumlin is right, this is cultural. Here are a couple of other perspectives.

  • Nah, DR, they are all on /b/…

  • Alan Maskey

    Depends how we look at the elephant. Outside of GAA, cricket and the like, there are, imo, three key things to get out of blogs:

    1. Nuggets of information that would otherwise be skipped.
    2. Swarms of people digging up pertinent information.
    3. Reflective stuff.

    I think all three are dependnet upon interactive traffic.
    Site Information for from Alexa Traffic Rank: 263,874 Traffic Rank in GB: 32,493 Sites Linking In: 560
    Site Information for unionistlite.blogspot.comGet Details Alexa Traffic Rank: 9,597,923 No regional data Sites Linking In: 77
    Site Information for leargas.blogspot.comGet Details Alexa Traffic Rank: 12,446,276 No regional data Sites Linking In: 39

    All things being equal, Alexa’s rankings put Slugger well ahead of the pack. But all things are not equal. They are loaded in favour of Slugger and against the poor MP for West Belfast.

    Perusing Gerry’s blog, we see he is passionate about hurling. (He never played for a team and his son played football). Ok. He gives the Christian Brothers credit. Good. He has some crap about all his mates who are into cooking. (Remember the cookery lessons in the Godfather, to say nothing of Gordon Ramsey’s popularity among the toughs. Any good recipes, Gerry?)
    Where is the diversity? Where are the contrary voices? What is there to learn from his blog? Why visit it?
    I sometimes look in on hard line dissident sites. But it is the same problem. Preaching to the converted, singing to the choir. Not worth a click.

    Here, behind all the humbug, all the tangents, we see that Unionists do care about things like their marches. A small illustration perhaps but much more educational that Gerry’s cookery club.
    And therein lies the answer as to why this site made the grade and Gerry’s did not. And that is what interests me and should interest the MP for Wet Belfast.

  • Alan Maskey

    I started my remarks with a poem written by Gerry Kelly in Colombia where he got the sad news of Eileen’s death.

    No disrespect to Mr Adams. MP. His blog does contain some great nuggets such as the above. But commenting on the blog is restricted. Not very web 3.0 ish. Gerry’s waist line, for example, does not look good in the Eileen pic.

    This is a problem common to both Sinn Fein and the Vatican.
    Site Information for vatican.vaGet Details Alexa Traffic Rank: 11,728 Traffic Rank in US: 11,097 Sites Linking In: 15,091

    But both believe in one way dialogue. And it gives both of them problems.

  • no offence but….

    Well done Mick!

    I was suprised that William Crawley’s ‘Will and Testament’ didnt make the top 20 though.

  • There’s an interesting essay that someone could write about SF’s relationship with The Chattering Class.

    Looking at different parties from the outside, it’s easy to see where they recognise that there is a political cost to them if they make elaborate enemies of people who don’t vote for them anyway. Cameron was quite a regular contributor to The Guardian’s comment section last year.

    There may not have been too many votes in it for him but fewer people were prepared to die-in-a-ditch to stop him in the way they would have done with a more Tebbitish leader

    SF – more than any political party on these islands that I can think of – don’t seem to see any upside in mediating with *expressed* public opinion. I’m not sure that this is, in itself, always a shortcoming either. But it may explain why SF are strikingly inactive in what is otherwise an unusually active regional blogosphere.

  • What purpose does this type of rubbish serve, it is beyond me and gives blogging a bad name.

    “Cameron was quite a regular contributor to The Guardian’s comment section last year. There may not have been too many votes in it for him but fewer people were prepared to die-in-a-ditch to stop him in the way they would have done with a more Tebbitish leader.”


    Which tells me the Guardian top floor had already been told by Clegg, if the opportunity arises he will go into a coalition with Cameron.

    I doubt there is another paper in the UK where a management is so out of sync with its readership.

    By the way, Cameron is a far greater cutter than Tebbit ever was, at least Tebbit understood working class people, Cameron believes we are either all workshy, half wits, or just cannot wait to tip our caps and say, thank you very kindly sir for kicking me in the bollocks.

  • What a shame that this post takes the view that a blog has to be ‘unionist’ or ‘nationalist’. East Belfast Diary is proudly neither. Do not be fooled by the location.

  • Granni Trixie

    Is it not a given that the medja deal in the extremes – as one who takes a cross community stance on most things, I welcome space to offer a view which is not dependant on whcih foot you are perceived to kick with.

  • Sure Mick. I’d buy the argument that Cameron’s neo-Liberal views are more matured than those of the Tories in the 1980s – and as a line of thought it’s been given more legitimacy from elsewhere now than it had then.

    The thing is, in the 1980s, I doubt if the Tories would have worried too much about what The Guardian’s readers thought. Today they do, and Cameron has gone to pains that his predecessors wouldn’t have bothered with to package themselves in order to reduce the resistance that they felt.

    I’d argue that this move – along with the success that the Tories had in bringing the Lib-Dems along with them in portraying New Labour as ‘authoritarian’ (I’d argue that they weren’t especially authoritarian by the standards of most modern states – their major shortcomings were in other areas) helped pave the way for the coalition.

    What interests me is that SF don’t feel that they need to make similar overtures to the pesky chattering classes. Wider experience would suggest it’s a mistake – it seems to be good politics to do it. SF clearly don’t agree and I’m in no position to know if they’re right or not on this score.

  • slug

    Jenny’s blog as well as “Yourfriendintehnorth” are worth reading and should be higher up than , for example, Conall’s blog, which is rather predictable.

    Open unionism has been a very good idea – there is quite a level of debate going on in unionism.

  • slug

    Well done to Lord Belmont.

    Actually his blog is NOT the place to visit for politics at all. But its very charming and I always like to go there for a cheer-up.

  • slug

    Ian Parsley’s blog is – in my opinion – worth a read from time to time. Though he has been intermittent.

    3000 versts and splintered deserve credit for keeping going with both high quality and quantity – as they are one-blogger blogs this must be a lot of work.

  • Agree – I don’t know how they do it

  • Paul

    Not sure what the size of the chattering classes is in the north, whilst there is a sizeable middle class population on the unionist side when the mask slips and push comes to shove they tend to be as hard-line as those on the Shankill road, No, that is wrong, they are far more reactionary than working class unionists.

    It would be a mistake to suggest SF have not courted the Guardian, as you are probable aware their contacts with the papers editor are solid.

  • William Markfelt

    I’m not Gerry, but here ya go, Alan. If you start now you can be shovelling spoonfuls into yer gob about 6pm.


    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 25 minutes

    Total Time: 35 minutes


    1lb 6oz/ 675g potatoes, peeled and quartered
    4 oz/100g curly kale, chopped (or Spring cabbage if kale not available))
    1/2 cup scallions/spring onions, roughly chopped
    1/4 cup scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
    1 stick/100g butter
    salt and pepper

    Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked – when pierced with a sharp knife the potato is soft in the middle.

    Blanch the curly kale in boiling water for one minute. Drain and reserve.

    Chop half of the spring onions roughly and the other half finely.

    Add the roughly chopped scallions/ spring onions to the drained kale and pulse in a blender for 10 seconds.

    Drain the potatoes and add the butter. When the butter has melted, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy.

    Add the kale mixture and mix.

    Finally, add the finely chopped scallions/spring onions and season to taste.

    Next week, I’ll be offering tips about home made marmalade. Something nice and orange-y.

  • just sayin’

    C’mon now – special mention for the enlightened political commentary by Billy McWilliams over on 1690 an all thon?

    His election coverage was unmissable!

  • Alan Maskey

    Thanks for the recipe William and I look forward to the home made marmalade one as I do like spicey orange.
    However, you refer to spring onions. Spring onions mean scallions in England, where they call what the Irish call spring onions garlic onions. Could you be more specific?
    All of this should be on Gerry’s blog, not on this one. No doubt, all the “lads” would be interested and we would all like to know what thy had cooking in Cage 11. Was Bobby a dab hand in the kitchen? How about his mate Denis? And Darkie? Who did the washing up? Did they go heavy on the spices?
    If Gerry’s blog was truly interactive, I could chip in with Napoleon’s favourite food, SAS men could tell us if those packages that last for 6 or so years suck and Gearoid, Gerry’s son and ex Antrim football player could tell us what is best to eat before getting whopped in a football match.
    But Gerry does not like that. There might be something subversive in your choice of Orange marmalade. If I say there is something too Presbyterian in the Presbyterian Women’s Cook book (good book but too, er, Presbyterian for me), Gerry might rule it out.
    Cale would probably make the grade. One of the top nutritionally but that might get us enquiring where Gerry buys his food from and is it Irish? Again, problems.

    Better to be like the Vatican, all high, mighty and aloof.

    Adoramus Te, Gerre,
    et benedicimus Tibi,
    Quia per sanctam HBlockus
    Tuam redemisti mundum.

    In Nazi Germay, as it was crumbling, a local priest heard a weak joke making fun of Hitler and Goebells. He passed it on to a parishioner, as one would. He got beheaded for it.
    Cults cannot have their top personalities mocked. Understandable but not very web 3.0 ish.
    And that is Gerry’s problem and the problem of all such cults.
    Mention has been made of the Tories and how their wives, no doubt suitably directed, churn out all soft and lovely stuff that blurrs the Tories’ edge. But Gerry keeps Colette hidden away, like she is a mad relative up in the attic. Understandable but not very web 3.0 ish.

    We have essentially two models: the active (Sinn Fein, the Vatican, Pravda) and the interactive (higher traffic, feedback)

  • William Markfelt

    ‘ I do like spicey orange.’

    Robinson’s Iris Mammalaid it is next week then.

  • pippakin

    Congratulations to all the blogs.

    Splintered Sunrise is one of the best . Well deserved recognition.

    I like A Tangled Web although imo it is not British right it is American right, and that is a whole other ball game.

  • RyanAdams

    No mention of our very own “dissenter” in the form of Hearts of Oak and Steel then?

    Unfortunate. His blog is of a quality better than a majority (not to include slugger, of course … *avoids card* 🙂 ) of those in that twenty, and this comes from someone who wouldn’t exactly embrace Mark’s ideologies.

  • RyanAdams

    Reads date … *face palm* … Why the …. is this in the active discussions section ffs

  • Mick Fealty

    Look at the date Ryan…

  • lamhdearg2

    ffs, i thought we had pip and maskey back.

  • Since the vote was taken, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The results are out of date, never mind the links (which still include Burke’s corner)

    I would say that Ian Parsley will be in the next top 20 list. He is consistently improving as a political thinker and already outstrips the overwhelming majority of NI politicians in that department.

    Jeffrey Peel at 17 is just about right but would and should be higher if he wrote more often.

    All bloggers have their hobby horses and that is what oftne makes them more fun to read. I enjoy Jeffrey’s attacks on religion, even though I dont agree with hist atheist militancy.

    Slugger just about deserves its No. 1 spot but at this stage in its development, it should not be so close to losing that spot.

    I dont think there is enough diversity on this website (I am not talking about Unionist / Nationalist diversity). I would like to see more bloggers who are known for their politican views – people like Turgon and Chris Donnelly but on the left / right spectrum (like Jenny (can you poach her?) as well as well as the Unionist / Nationalist spectrum.

    I would also like to see more blogs about sport. In fact, I would welcome a sports blogger on slugger that is an expert and concentrates solely on sport. No disrespect to Dewi who writes about rugby or to Pete writing about cricket but I think they would both agree they are not experts.

  • Mick Fealty

    Im thinking policy is the way to go… Im all for political bloggers having a go and Id love Jenny to join the team; but our politics do not provide a lot of scope for the moment.