WordPress gives bloggers some quite good stats on visitors to their blogs. One of the features if provides is information about ‘referrers’ – sites from which people have clicked on a link to your blog. If you wish, you can then follow these links back to the source to see who’s mentioned your blog and what has been said.
I noticed in my stats today that a number of people had arrived at my blog by clicking through from the ‘Conservative Home’ website – a site that calls itself ‘The Home of Conservatism’ and describes its purpose as to
champion the interests of grassroots Tory members and to argue for a broad conservatism
As you can imagine, getting visitors via this site piqued my curiosity. My views and those of ConHome, as it’s often known, couldn’t be much more diametrically opposed, so it’s a fairly rare event for my blog to receive traffic from it or any similar site!
It turned out that someone had linked to my site as part of a comment arguing against an inaccurate article about the Plebgate CCTV footage and the ensuing comments. But what really caught my eye was that commenters had a price, a monetary value, against their screenname:
I was curious about these ‘prices’ and what they meant, so I tried clicking on one of them to see what would happen. The click brought up an small window explaining the price:
In case you have any difficulty reading it, here’s the text:
The reputation meter is a measure of strength of all previous comments made on our system by a certain commenter as judged by his or her peers. It is one way to tell whether the comment you are reading is written by someone well-regarded.
This struck me in a couple of ways. First of all, the idea strikes me as completely wrong-minded – yet depressingly unsurprising – that the site expects its readers to judge comments not by the logic, clarity and sense of the comment itself, but by how well the commenter is rated by those (almost all Tories) who use the site.
Secondly, and even more telling but equally unsurprising, is that the site has chosen to express these ratings in cash terms. The number is a number, and can convey its meaning without needing a £/p symbol – but the Tory instinct is to express it as a monetary value.
I believe this says something profoundly true about the Conservative mindset – that it views everything in monetary terms, and values anything only for its financial contribution. As we say ‘up north’ – ‘they know the price of everything and the value of nowt’.
And don’t we just see that in all their decisions – anyone who can’t ‘pay their own way’, but rather needs help from the rest of us to get by, has no value to the Tories. Disabled people, the unemployed, the low-paid (even though their low pay is fattening some shareholders’ profits) – all are natural targets to the Conservatives, because they don’t know how to value people apart from their cash contribution or lack of it.
It makes me deeply, viscerally angry – but I also pity people whose worldview is so diseased and limited.
But we still have to get them out of power and consign them to the electoral dustbin.