Blog year 1: a few thoughts and my 3 favourite posts

This is the 2nd time I’ve written this post. It seems to be both the done thing and a desirable thing to think back over the year, and it’s been a dramatically different year for me, as it’s the year in which I started writing this blog. But the first draft of this post quickly became too long and too self-indulgent, so I’m starting from scratch.

I’m all too aware of the risks of ego – I’m cursed, or blessed, with as much of that as most people. I’d have to be, to think that what I think and write is worth the time and effort of other people to read, let alone recommend to others. All I can say is that I’ve tried always to write what needed to be written, rather than simply for the pleasure of knowing people have read it.

So I won’t say too much about what led me to start writing, except to point you to the ‘about me‘ page of this blog if you have the stomach for reading more about it.

I do, though, need to make a limited apology. Because I’ve always written to try to change people’s opinions, and to expose lies and distortions propagated by this government and its allies, rather than just to get it off my chest, I’ve been fairly shameless in using Twitter etc to spread the word each time I’ve posted something new (that ego again).

If, therefore, you’re reading this and happen to be one of the people who used to follow me on Twitter and stopped, because of Tweets about new articles, I apologise for being a nuisance – though not for actually sending the Tweets. This government’s lies are many, and the ‘new media’ are our best chance of counteracting them – and I applaud others who are blogging, tweeting, facebooking and so on in order to prevent the Tories (and their LibDem collaborators) from getting a sniff of power in the next election and beyond.

My experiences over the last 8 months or so have definitely given me hope and optimism that social media are the best antidote to right-wing control of most of the media. I could (because WordPress gives some very nice stats and graphics to bloggers) tell you how many countries have viewed my blog or even show you a map of the world showing those countries. But I’m trying to be ruthless with that ego, so I won’t. But the free media allow ordinary people to have their say, and that’s our great hope for freedom from deception and oppression – so if you’ve ever thought of writing your own blog, please let me encourage you to do so!

Anyway, enough of that kind of thing. It seemed appropriate, as one small indulgence, to look back over my first calendar year as a blogger and pick out my 3 favourite (I won’t say ‘best’ – that’s for you to decide more than me) posts of the year. Here they are, in reverse order according to the time-honoured fashion, along with a (hopefully very) brief note as to why I picked them:

No. 3

This was actually the trickiest selection of all. Deciding which were my top 2 favourite posts of the year was a relatively easy choice for various reasons, but there was a lot of competition for 3rd place.

If I was selecting according to what I think are the most important posts, strong contenders would be ‘A day in the Life of an NHS Staff Nurse‘ and ‘DLA to PIP change will push at least 85,000 people below the poverty line‘. Our NHS and its hard-working staff are under constant attack, by the government in financial terms and its soundbites, and by the government’s media allies in propaganda designed to undermine public trust in and affection for our country’s greatest institution.

Similarly, the ruthless, demonising attack on disabled people has been constant, in spite of the success of our Paralympians and their calls for fair treatment for those with disabilities – and it’s an attack that is costing lives as well as eroding the quality of life of disabled people all over the country.

There would be many other contenders, too. But this government’s lies and misdeeds are so many, and so heinous, that the choice would be too great. So I’m selecting posts on the basis of either the pleasure of writing them, the inspiration or ‘lift’ I felt in writing them, or both.

So, in 3rd place, I’ve chosen one of my earliest posts: The Myth of the Inherited Mess. In many ways, this was a seminal post, setting the pattern for those that were to follow: a lot of sources, a lot of research and an attempt to set out, in reasoned but emphatic language, the lies the government wants us to believe and the reasons we shouldn’t believe them.

No. 2

If pure numbers were the rationale for selection, this post would win hands down – and in terms of the pleasure of writing and the uplifting feeling of doing so, it’s close. On the night of the Olympic opening ceremony, I was dreading what might unfold, particularly the widely-trailed NHS segment. But the whole thing turned out to be outstanding, and to carry such a clear message, that I was blown away. I published my ‘take’ on Danny Boyle’s message just as the ceremony ended – and within 2 hours it had been read (or at least viewed) by 2,500 people, well ahead of my record for a whole day at that time. By the following night it had been read over 9,000 times, and in total (so far) over 13,500. So, if you have time, please take a look at ‘Danny Boyle’s coded Olympic Message to the Tories’ at no. 2.

(Drum roll…) No. 1

My favourite post of the year beat the 2nd-favourite because part of it concerned one of the most moving experiences of my year, and perhaps of my life. I was invited, because I write frequently about the NHS, to speak to a pro-NHS rally in Hull organised by unions. That was memorable, but not the most memorable part. I had 3 privileges that day, and the most impacting was a short time spent with a homeless man, and the chance to do nothing more, really, than treat him like a human being.

The combination of experiences – speaking to the rally, meeting the homeless man, and then a little later seeing a group of people gathered around him, for all his squalor, to help him after his dog was attacked by another, was the best, most heart-warming and uplifting experience imaginable – and writing about it was very nearly as good.

Those three privileges showed me that people will be motivated to act and to resist, as long as they’re informed and not lulled; it reinforced my conviction that this government’s money-centred worldview is utterly bankrupt morally, because it doesn’t treat people as humans, with dignity and respect no matter what their background or misfortune; and it reminded me that most people are essentially kind-hearted and will do good if they see a need, even when it’s not easy.

That’s why this government has to try to deceive and mislead, and ultimately why I write. And so, it’s my privilege to offer you, if you’ve persevered this far, my favourite post of the year:

An NHS rally, a homeless man, 3 privileges – and why the Tories must ultimately fail

Thank you, and I wish a very happy Christmas and a wonderful 2013 to you and your loved ones!

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