James Graham (London, Quaequam Blog!): The first thing that I think needs to be got out of the way is that one of the defining characteristics of the Lib Dem blogosphere is its irreverence. In addition to the soft toy blogs Millennium Elephant and Pink Dog, and the Liberal Mafia, Jonathan Calder's Liberal England frequently features highlights from the Shropshire Star ("Have aliens landed in Shropshire?" etc.), while Will Howells regularly indulges in his twin obsessions of Countdown and Doctor Who. Indeed, arguably the very first Lib Dem Blog was by then London Mayoral candidate Susan Kramer's pet cat Whittington.
Why all the silliness? Well, if you are to remain sane in a political party which has been out in the political wilderness for 70 years, and which despite significant successes in recent years is just one bad election away from destruction, a sense of humour helps. The down side is that all of this can be a bit off-putting to the outsider, but it's surely better than that other third party tendency, nausea-inducing self-righteousness.
But it would be a mistake to assume that all this suggests that Lib Dem bloggers are shy of tackling the more serious stuff. Quite the opposite. Anders Hanson, Anthony Hook, Arwen Folkes and Alex Wilcock, for example, are good at taking a topical issue and exploring it from a Lib Dem perspective (and that's just the "A"s). The cartoonish design of Jonny Wright's Hug a Hoodie belies his sharp intellect, particularly when writing on weighty issues such as human rights and party strategy. Jonny deservedly won Best New Lib Dem Blog 2007 and a special commendation for his post on the Philip Lawrence case at the Blog Awards this week.
The broad church of the party is represented, with Barrie Wood and Linda Jack on the social liberal / left and Tristan Mills and Andy Mayer on the libertarian / economic liberal / right. Councillors and MPs must be more circumspect in what they write on the internet, but that doesn't mean they have to be boring. 2006's top blog Cllr Stephen Tall and 2007's top Elected Official Blog Cllr Mary Reid are good examples of councillors who have got the balance right. Lynne Featherstone and Adrian Sanders are always worth reading for an MP's perspective. In terms of unelected Parliamentarians, we have Lord Avebury (Eric Lubbock). Until recently we also had Lord Tim Garden's insightful foreign policy blog; sadly Tim passed away this summer but you can still read his archives.
We even have civil servants in the form of Mark Valladares and "Bernard Woolley". Finally, if you want the sort of prolific output associated with, say, Iain Dale, try Paul Walter or Nich Starling, a veritable Good Cop / Bad Cop double act.
And that's only scratching the surface! I will have no doubt insulted hundreds of people by not listing them here, so apologies in advance. All identified Lib Dem Blogs are accessible via the legendary Aggregator while Lib Dem Voice is the unofficial hub of the Lib Dem blogosphere.
James Graham won the Lib Dem Blog of the Year 2007 at the Lib Dem Conference this week.