"YBF tracked down Tory Bear – a prolific blogger on the CF scene – to find out what makes him (or her) tick. The Bear talks openly about what the blog aims to do, his (or her) relationship with CCHQ, his (or her) plans for the future and why he’d (or she’d) bring back fox hunting.
Tell us why you created the blog - what did you set out to do?
TB was bored of getting his regular hits of 14 readers a day and some of the best advice about blogging I’ve ever been given was find a niche - CF was lacking a regular blogger that had comedy, so that’s the direction I took my blog in! I also get frustrated with the careerists so it’s nice to bring them down a peg or two from time to time.
Why did you decide to be anonymous?
It was more a decision to write in character than to be anonymous. If you look at
Do you feel there was some kind of learning curve? Has the blog changed at all since you started it?
Like I never imagined, not just on the technical side but in terms of the blogsphere too. TB is trying new things every day and trying to rewrite the rule book in some ways. In terms of the blog changing, well people have said that it has calmed down a lot since the early notoriety or leaked documents. That isn’t necessarily a decision by me to tone it down but the fact is that people are a lot more wary of getting involved in a leak witch-hunt and seem to be a lot more guarded. There is a rumour going round that I got threatened by the Party Board, that’s just not true. If the worst that happens is a certain CCHQ official googleing my life and then sending it to other bloggers then I’m not exactly shaking in my boots.
Are you planning any other developments or changes to your blog?
Absolutely! The site is due to go under a significant renovation before conference - where I will be live blogging. Tory Bear is also throwing a party in Birmingham. More details on that soon. In term of long term goals and directions to take the blog in, I am looking to expand the focus from just CF to a broader look at the grassroots and coalition.
As well as the luxury of saying what you please, do you think a blogger has any responsibilities too?
With an influence of a readership that is made up of the public as well as party faithful, of course there is a certain amount of responsibility involved. Ultimately there is one enemy and that is Labour and TB doesn’t want to give them ammunition. However, that can’t stop CF needing a “critical friend” from time to time. I have to weigh up posts I make and any story I do put up that could be construed as negative, I believe has been in the interest of the members and fully sourced. I am yet to regret a post.
In terms of comments well it’s my sandpit, so my rules. My moderation policy is fairly random and if I find something tedious I won’t publish. Racism and homophobia as well as general abuse that isn’t obviously a joke is not allowed. People moan that I don’t publish there thousand word essays on the Common Agriculture Policy or why TB is “ruining CF” but if you don’t like it, start your own blog.
Tell us about your observations of CF today - how is it reacting to the rise of CF bloggers?
It’s not political enough. People back their mates at elections, candidates promise the world and rarely talk about their political beliefs. I want to see CF being the political force it once was. The party has shifted to the centre yet CF represents all of it’s voters under 30 - a formidable force if we were to start calling for the libertarian ideals to be listened to again!
The Tory Bear blog is I believe having the right effect, people are beginning to lighten up a bit and stop taking everything so seriously. Obviously there are still a few out there who whine about bloggers but they are normally the ones with the most to hide. The positive responses far outweigh the negatives that have been thrown my way, though the fact that CCHQ IP addresses top my hits, one computer in particular, makes me think that the powers that be are going to take a little more persuading.
Where can CF improve?
CF needs to take a good hard look in the mirror, if the members spent half as much time and half as much energy sweating over minuscule internal problems and instead focused that energy on campaigning we would be the formidable force that we once were. In terms of the direction we seem to be going in recent months, I think that any reforms of CF need to be done openly and under the watchful eye of the membership, who for some reason care deeply about these issues.
What do you think of the relationship between CF and YBF?
CF needs strong ties to all aspects of the broader coalition. I think it is fantastic that CF understands that YBF are at the forefront of activist training in this country and rather than trying to rival them, calling on them to work together instead. People moan about a potential conflict of interest that arises in having a senior CF figure working in a senior position at YBF but I can see very little harm in this as long as YBF remains neutral in internal elections. The coalition needs strengthening and the YBF relationship should be a model for CF to follow with the rest of the movement.
Do you have any thoughts on the next set of CF elections?
I hope there are another set of CF elections ; )
Joking apart they are a long way off and only time will tell who has the stamina to go all the way. People shouldn’t start campaigning yet, they will only exhaust themselves and people will get bored of them. If the elections are held next August the final months of the campaign will be very different from previously due to the fact the universities will all be on holiday. The whole dynamic of the get-out-and-meet-voters campaign will have to change.
What are your plans for the future?
TB struggles to think about his next meal let alone any long term plans… The blog has opened up some interesting opportunities though…
If you could repeal one law, which would it be?
Just one? Hunting Act 2004 if we are being specific. TB is big fan of legalising lots of things as well…
If you could make a law, what would it be?
Any person who pays tax in this country should have the vote. It’s disgusting that there are soldiers and sailors who are under 18 yet fighting for their country and paying tax but do not have the vote. I am not calling for the voting age to be lowered, there are a lot of 16, 18 and even 21 year olds who aren’t mature enough for a vote – but there should be no taxation without representation. Whatever your age, and only if you pay tax do you get the vote."
Interesting that the following line was the only one cut out:
"The potential for a split in CF over these reforms is very real, not necessarily because of the content of them but the way in which they are being imposed."