In both London and in Tallinn the good summer weather is making bloggers - including this one- rather lazy. Iain Dale is taking a 10 day break, and activity across the blogosphere is declining in the summer heat.
In part this reflects the simple exhaustion after the election campaign and the long phony war that preceded it. It also reflects, I think, a new evolution in the way blogs are being written. The advent of Twitter has reduced a blog to a tweet, and the significant amount of work that a blog involves is also causing even long standing and well known bloggers to reappraise what they do.
This blog is no different.
I have always set out to write about subjects to which I have some particular insight. I try to write in more detail- time permitting- than I see in the mainstream press. Unfortunately the side effect is that the blog is pretty wordy- and combined with poor editing- it is clear that I do not hit the kind of audience that the mega-blogs like Political Betting or Iain Dale can do. Nevertheless the readership of this blog has been steadily growing, and until I took a rest a few weeks ago, I was getting record readership.
Part of the hiatus of blogging has been the result of my own doubts about the role of the Liberal Democrats in the new political world of the coalition. I feared- indeed still fear- that the leadership of the party was in danger of selling the tradition of Liberalism far too cheaply and that instead of a more Liberal political system, what may emerge over the next two years is a Conservativism that is revived without the necessary Liberalism that the UK still needs to rediscover.
The result of the general election was a double edged sword for the Liberal Democrats, and there is no use pretending that the challenges that we face as a political party will be anything except pretty testing. The need to enact political reform is critical, not just to the future of the country, but also to the survival of the Liberal Democrats as an independent political force.
The party will certainly pay a price for entering the coalition- but that price may be worth paying if the result is that the constitution can be improved and the role of the state can be both reduced and yet made more efficient. Certainly the crisis that New Labour left us with should remind us that the misguided instincts of Socialism wedded to unprincipled pragmatism leads to nothing but economic and political disaster. Labour needs to be finished as a political force, yet my fear is that the alliance the Liberal Democrats have forged with the Conservatives may allow the zombie ideology of warmed-over Socialism to continue as a political force for another generation.
So, as the pleasant summer heat continues, Liberal Democrats are spending their time considering the future and the best way to promote the key principles that Liberalism represents. Blogging may remain sparse, but the debate that is going on quietly inside the party is absolutely critical. The Party conference in September will see uncomfortable questions being asked. Although the party is pretty united, there is now a real sense that we will need to work harder than ever to convince the voters of the value of Liberal principles.
That is a debate where this blog intends to take an active role- so after the long hiatus, I can now return to the fight.