Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Interview with a new green blogger: Rupert Read

Rupert, you just set up your new blog, ‘Rupert’s Read’ how's it going?

Well you tell me! Leave a comment! Anyhow; I guess I think it’s going well. I’m sure there’ll be some controversial topics to come, so look out for those... I seem already to have sparked plenty of comment among those who have found the blog so far, on issues such as inheritance tax and whether the Green Party needs Leadership or not.

People may have heard me talking on a wide range of subjects over the years, and I’m look forward to some feedback and some interesting dialogues now via the blogosphere…

What made you want to set up a blog?

Right now there is so much exciting debate from environmentalists and people in the social justice movements over the kind of policies that could really make a difference in this country. But there is still such a gulf between the radical changes that are needed and the narrow-minded debates between mainstream politicians. Although some of the mainstream media are starting to pick up on this alternative vision, most of the media just cover the same old debates from the ‘grey’ parties. So I wanted to offer people the chance to hear an elected politician talking about new, important and often challenging policies, and provide a forum for a real debate.

I think that blogging is going to be vital to politics in the future, in terms of communicating both ways with voters, and in terms of ‘new media’ as a real mass mode of communication around times such as the upcoming Euro-elections.

Blogging is still a relatively new medium, what are your expectations of the blogosphere?

With a mainstream media so heavily invested in maintaining the status quo, blogging and other alternative media will become more and more important. Some blogs now have more readers than most local newspapers, and I think that says it all really.

You're lead Euro candidate for the Greens in the Eastern Region - do you think your blog and facebook group have the potential to make a real contribution to your campaign?

I do. I am involved in a lot of press work and will continue to spread the Green Party’s message through traditional media forms whenever possible. But a lot of voters want to scrutinise their candidates more closely than a 1 minute interview on News Night can offer. I will be giving my views on a whole range of issues over the course of my European Election campaign. This way voters, if they choose to vote for me, will know exactly who they are sending to Brussels.

Do you think that green blogs can compete with the high profile Tory blogs?

Of course. Most of these Tory blogs are spouting the same thing you can read from a Telegraph columnist. On environmental issues, the Conservatives are only now weakly offering a disastrously diluted version of what the Green Party has been saying for years. People who surf around the different blogs quickly realise which are the ones that are actually starting to set a new agenda.

But I think we must learn from the Tory blogs, too. I intend to break news on my blog – I have already done so, a couple of times. And I think that some green blogs need to be willing to engage in ‘gossip’, in the way that the Tory blogs sometimes do so effectively… We need in effect a Green Private Eye…

Finally, your blog was set up too late to even be in the running for the best green blog awards this year. What do you think it would take for one of these green blogs to win the coveted People's Choice Award? What would you be looking for in a blog that you were voting for in this competition?

As I’ve outlined above, a worthwhile blog needs to be creating a fresh debate around the issues that concern modern society. A blog that moves past the well-trodden ground on whether renewables are feasible, whether immigration should be reduced or what the precise levy of inheritance tax should be.

The debate now needs to focus on (for example) how exactly to maximise the potential for renewables, how to benefit most from an influx of economic and ecological refugees (while doing all we can to make Third World and Eastern European countries wealthy and attractive enough to their residents that less people WANT to leave), and how the entire tax system can be reformed. And how to reframe the familiar issues in ways that work for Greens, ways that work for the world. The sort of blog I’d vote for is one that is always challenging my preconceptions and makes me respond with: ‘That’s an ambitious statement!’, ‘How can we make that work?’ and ‘What about all these possible repercussions?’

Thanks very much Rupert, good luck with the blog.


weggis said...

Bin there, commented. he thinks I'm being negative.

And what's with the beard. he hasn't got one on his blog. Mind you i haven't got one now either but my photo is deliberatly 35 years out of date.

Rupert said...

hey, weggis, i also have liked a lot of your comments and have found them useful (especially the positive ones)! ;-)