Well, here is where we stand at the end of our first week…
Issues we’ve looked closely at included: voluntary coalition and a shared future; education and the post-primary debate; how best to strip back public administration costs; the impact of majority weighting on power-sharing; our first Assembly sketch; and finally the unglamorous but necessary weekly workload of an MLA.
Overall, the eight posts we’ve uploaded have attracted 34 comments, and we’ve recorded around 1,500 views.
In addition to this, we’ve also attracted a lot of comment / feedback from people on the look and feel of the site. In particular, one comment seemed to exemplify the kind of critical feedback we’ve been getting. I’m reproducing it in full below and will respond directly to it.
Just some observations about the project… If the stated intention of a blog is to provide a platform for all unionists then why are the links to UK parties restricted to the Tories? It is possible to be a unionist and support the Labour party. It is possible to be a unionist and support the Liberal Democrats. Yet someone has made a decision, I’m forced to conclude on nothing more than the political biases of the people behind the site, to link to the Tories and not the other two main parties. (I’d question why? My cynicism answers immediately. But that’s for another day)
It seems to me idea behind this is sound. The execution on the other hand falls down. I would have thought that to reach out to as broad an unionist constituency as possible, the decision as to which parties / blogs / pressure groups the site links to, would be made after the site had become established, thus reflecting the membership, rather than making the decisions before anyone has joined, potentially defining (and I’d say restricting) the membership.
There’s also the complete lack of mention of loyalism. Like it or lump it the loyalist constituency forms a part of the greater unionist community. I hope that it is something that you will endeavour to reflect. While I don’t like comparisons our drawing parallels you wouldn’t see an Irish “nationalist” site with a similar objectives not having an Irish “republican” perspective.
Alot of this is fair comment – and I’m very grateful for it.
First off, a confession. I knew this would be an imperfect creation when we launched it. Our aim was not to produce a fully developed and fully matured site – we wanted it to be more democratic than that. Our aim was to launch and to create a community of people around this blog (contributors / commenters / viewers) and to ensure that their views shape what will become a continuously improving entity.
So in order to get that community of users established, we’re trying to get as many people blogging and engaging in the discussions here and in the shortest possible practicable timeframe. Therefore, this is by no means a settled product. This blog must inevitably evolve in the way it looks and sounds, and this will be driven by all who engage here.
So in direct response to the commenter above:
- … why are the links to UK parties restricted to the Tories: We’re adding to those links. If there’s a blog or a website this blog should know about, then email us. But we’ll be adding to the links and blogroll all the time.
- … It is possible to be a unionist and support the Liberal Democrats: much to the amusement of anyone who knows me well, yes i can say that this is perfectly possible. The links and blogroll will reflect broader opinion.
- … the decision as to which parties / blogs / pressure groups the site links to, would be made after the site had become established: Precisely our thoughts too.
- … the loyalist constituency forms a part of the greater unionist community. I hope that it is something that you will endeavour to reflect: Absolutely. I have no doubt that issues relating to loyalism will be discussed here (we’ll plan it in).
In the short term, we are focusing on expanding the range of contributors here – and hopefully we’ll see the evidence of this coming through in the next few days.
Please do continue to email comments to openunionism at googlemail dot com