One of the things I’ve realised writing this blog is how good the Welsh political blogosphere is, and how rapidly it is improving. I’m aware from looking at my own blog stats how much interest this blog attracts from Wales. There’s a proliferation of very interesting blogs from Wales, certainly in English (I can’t comment on those in Welsh). Most of the main political journalists have ones, including Tomos Livingstone and David Williams of the Western Mail, Betsan Powys and David Cornock of the BBC, or Tom Bodden of the Daily Post. There are more or less partisan platforms for polemic, like Guerrilla Welsh Fare, Valleys Mam, The Dyda Despatches, or Syniadau. There is more dispassionate, but opinionated, commentary from Politics Cymru or Cambria Politico. Many politicians have blogs too, of varying quality, but those of Glyn Davis, Peter Black AM and Paul Flynn MP are usually interesting, entertaining or both. No-one who was trying to make sense of what was going on during the coalition negotiations after the 2007 elections can forget how valuable the sadly-discontinued Blamerbell Briefs was.
Most of interesting of all, though, are the multi-author blogs like This Is My Truth from the Bevan Foundation, WalesHome, or that run by the Institute for Welsh Affairs. The first two are effectively high-quality electronic magazines, while the latter contributes a good deal of material to Agenda.
I have to say that this seems to me far richer – and the quality of what’s put on them far higher – than what there is in Scotland, where political blogging is much less developed. For someone who is very interested in Wales but who doesn’t live in Wales or regard himself as Welsh, I find this hugely valuable – it means I can find out what is going on, and what people are thinking, quickly and easily, and from wherever I happen to be. So personally I’m very grateful.
But the reason for this explosion is interesting, if pretty obvious. Wales is famously ill-served by indigenous media, with only limited readership for Welsh papers like the Western Mail or the Daily Post, negligible coverage from the London press that dominates the market, and heavy reliance on the BBC (and S4C for Welsh speakers) as ITV has so largely given up on serious news from outside London. Once upon a time, the need for Wales to be able to talk to itself might have manifested itself in printed magazines like Magill in Ireland, or the plethora of good local papers one finds in Switzerland. Instead, in the modern world, this has moved to the web. Blogs are of course, an easy, low-cost and speedy way of communicating with large readerships. Given the problems of physical communication and media organisation, it’s not really surprising that blogs have grown up to fill the gap. My congratulations and thanks to all involved (including many I’ve not listed above). It strikes me that Wales is striking out a new path here, as in many other ways – of all the other places I follow reasonably closely, the Welsh blogosphere is unique. I don’t think Canada, Australia, Switzerland or Germany support anything comparable – or have the same need to, given that they have decent mainstream media which have good online presences. Watching the progress of Wales’s blogosphere develops will be one of the many interesting trends to watch as the Welsh political system develops.