There is a short, but interesting, exchange of views on one of Simon's Plaid Conf post.
From my experience, whether we're talking about blogs or twitter accounts, it's clear that online Welsh politics is very much an in-crowd of professional and amateur anoraks. Sure, anybody can blog (or leave a comment) on Welsh politics, but in reality anyone interested enough in the subject to do so pretty much falls into the anorak category anyway.
Al Iguana responds:
But WHY is it the preserve of anoraks? Surely everyone who votes should be discussing and dissecting? Why doesn't mainstream politics fire people up?
What Simon says is true. I suspect that 99% of the people who read my musings on a regular basis are people who write their own political blogs. My readers are those who are dyed in the wool supporters of their own political persuasion who will never be influenced by even the most passionate of debates in the comments section. Most of us who blog politics and/or comment on political blogs do so because we enjoy the sport, not because we believe that our pearls of wisdom will change opinion.
But Al's question is an interesting one. Politics does fire people up. Even people who claim not to be interested in politics usually have an opinion on the matters of the day. The difference between them and us anoraks is that politics isn't their prime passion, so they are not going to read blogs that are exclusively or mainly political, like mine, like Simon's or like Al's.
I was in Blaenau Ffestiniog yesterday afternoon, waiting for a train, where I overheard a conversation about the local football team. The footy conversation ended when one participant said I don't like Gwilym Euros' politics, but his blog always has the team's latest result the conversation then developed into a discussion about the merits of Gwilym's politics.
Gwilym is not the only poli-blogger to throw in the "aside interest" amongst his political posts, many others do so. But the starting point of his blog is the politics of being a local councilor; he is as much of an anorak as the rest of us.
But overhearing this conversation makes me wonder if the "trick" of influencing people is not to write a political blog at all!
If you really want to influence people the best way might be to write a general blog / a community blog etc where most of the posts are of general or local interest but only a few push a particular political line. A blog dedicated to Llaregub, which mainly does the local gossip; the hatched, matched and dispatched; the happy birthday, the get well soon, John Jones passed his driving test etc; but noted that the parish would be better off in an independent / socialist / liberal / conservative Wales in an irregular political comment!
Nobody buys the Sun because of its political coverage! People buy the Sun because of page three, the crossword, the sport, the celeb gossip etc. The shitty political influence just seeps through as an aside.
If Plaid really wants to influence the Welsh blogosphere it doesn't need a Welsh Iain Dale. What it needs is hundreds of community bloggers who can subliminally slip its message in between posts about the church organ fund and the village show!