Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blog Bits: interview with Sue Luxton

I've been a great fan of Cllr Sue Luxton's blog for sometime now. Whilst parking permits and planning applications are not necessarily the stuff revolutions are made of I think Sue has really worked out how to fit blogging with her work as a community activist and Green councillor.

In the third in this short series of interviews Sue bigs up the Lewisham blogging massive and comes out in favour of David Cameron... that's piqued your interest!

  • How do you think blogging as a councillor differs from other types of blogging? How careful do you have to be?
Hmm, that depends on what kind of councillor you are (community activist, climbing the greasy pole, electoral geek), and what you're aiming to do with your blog. I'm sure no non-councillor blogger in their right mind (and possibly a large number of cllr bloggers, or at least those wishing to retain the interest of their readership) would spend as much time as I do talking about controlled parking zones, pot holes and dog shit, but these do tend to rank pretty highly in the topics residents raise with us!

I'm very aware that whatever I say on my blog can be twisted, misconstrued and taken as the 'official view' of the Green Party and try to bear this in mind when posting. I've written the odd throw away remark I've regretted, but generally I opt for cautious and boring over exciting and risky, and fairly parochial rather than trying to deal with international politics and lots of Green Party national stuff.
  • What are the highs and lows of blogging for you?
Highs: when a resident tells me they found something useful/came to an event having read about it on my blog, or when some constructive discussion takes place in the comments. I also hope that another high at some point will be to be able to look back through the blog and remember some of the things we've managed to achieve as councillors.

Lows: trolls - I've had petrolheads making quite personal remarks because I had the audacity to support 20mph speed limits, someone accusing me of supporting the Tamil Tigers and others who try to turn any topic into a discussion on their pet issue. Also writing post after post after post, not getting any comments, and wondering if anyone is reading it (happens less often now). Occasionally feeling a slave to the blog or guilty when I haven't posted after a busy week.
  • How does blogging fit into your wider political activity?
I try to use it to give an overview of the work we're doing on the Council. I don't tend to use it much for national party politics, unless something has really annoyed me, or there is a clear local angle. I try to remember that it's only hitting a certain demographic and that the readership is not reflective of the ward as whole.
  • If you could imagine a perfect blog - what would it look like?
I think both Mrs Normal and Sian Berry are well-designed sites. The perfect blog would of course also have to have impeccably-behaved readers and commenters!
  • Lewisham seems to have a very healthy online community - how come?
It's true, that Lewisham (with a few Greenwich interlopers such as and Tory Troll) has a pretty lively blogosphere. Even Time Out acknowledged this recently and they normally ignore south of the river entirely, unless they want to do smthg on gangs or a feature on where the next Dalston/Shoreditch is.

Maybe it is some kind of gritty south-east London determination in the face of snide remarks from north Londoners and sectors of the media that spurs us on to prove there's more to south-east London than not having many tube lines!

Back in March 2006, when I started Green Ladywell, the number of local bloggers was fairly small, with Transpontine, (former) Labour councillor Andrew Brown, Bob from Brockley, Lib Dem councillor Andrew Milton and the Man from Catford being the stalwarts of the (male-dominated) blogosphere. Things definitely took off when Brockley Central joined the foray in February 2007 and it seemed to develop a huge online community around it within a few weeks. A few other women bloggers such as Deptford Dame and Brockley Kate (part of the Brockley Central team) came along, although women are still notably in the minority amongst bloggers.

The other thing that was good were the occasional Lewisham bloggers meet ups (initiated by Andrew Brown) and then the Brockley Central drinks, which were a great opportunity to put faces and names to previously anonymous bloggers.
Quick fire round:
  1. Tory government better, worse or same as Labour? Marginally worse, but more expensively spun.
  2. Chumbawamba or Blur? Hmm, that's a toughy as I was a big fan of both, saw Chumbawamba a few times at uni (whatever ever happened to Credit to the Nation?), but would have to say Blur, having revisited their back catalogue recently at their Hyde Park gig.
  3. Fourth Plinth - hot or not? Yeah, nice idea, Deptford Dame was knitting with friends there today. Got to be better than all the generals on the other plinths, surely?
  4. Clegg or Cameron? Cameron is the more convincing.
  5. Action movie or comedy? Comedy
  6. Mark Thomas or Jo Brand? Mark Thomas
  7. Opera or Oprah? Neither!
  8. Livingstone or Monbiot? Probably Livingstone, but perhaps we could splice the best bits of them together somehow?
  9. Obama: super smooth or mad dog imperialist? Super smooth.
  10. Newspapers or magazines? Newspapers (unless it's the Ecologist/New Internationalist)


Sue said...

"comes out in favour of David Cameron"- you *~@$%!!!

Laban said...

Try Dogwash - I think from Woolwich. You won't like his strapline though.

bob said...

Sue, thank you for championing the Lewi-blogopshere. Time for another pub outing eh?

Whatever did happen to Credit to the Nation? And, for that matter, who was it I lent my cassette single of "Give the Fascist Man a Gun Shot" to, and never gave it back?

Jim Jay said...

Oh Sue - first you support Cameron and then you go and steal the man's cassette... sooo disappointing :)

Sue said...

Uh-uh, not guilty, but I do still have my CD single of Chumbawumba and Credit to the Nation's 'Enough is Enough'!

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks for the link - but doesn't Green Ladywell get one?

Jim Jay said...

B-Nick: Well spotted! I've corrected the error.

Clare said...

Bob - we tried to organise another Lewisham bloggers drinks, but the turnout was me and 853, we managed to miss Deptford Dame by minutes as 853 got the time wrong and I was late. :(

Still, we had a laugh, so if someone wants to organise another one I would happily come along! It seems we miss Andrew organising us though.

Green Gordon said...

Jo Brand wins for sure. The woman's a mental health nurse.