It is now more than two and a half years since I started this blog, primarily to spare weary Facebook friends from being continually subjected to my forceful and not always fully-cooked opinions on every new political story coming out of London and Washington, D.C.
Back in March 2012, the Republican primary campaign was still underway in America and this blog was cheering for Ron Paul as loudly as it was denouncing the seductive paternalism of Rick Santorum, for all the difference it made to either of their fortunes. Closer to home in London, this blog was weighing in with exasperation on Britain’s achingly slow planning process and the question of where to increase London’s airport capacity in order to remain a competitive global city – an argument that still rumbles on, perpetually unresolved. And of course there were calls for lower, flatter taxes on both sides of the Atlantic.
Hopefully regular readers will have noticed a marked improvement in the quality of the output since those early posts, and especially since the spring of 2014 when I was fortunate enough to complete my journalism training with The Big Issue and Poached Creative.
New posts are less frequent, but longer-form and (hopefully) more thoughtful. Gone are the picture posts and “Best Thing Of The Day” type updates, which were never very good and which other sites do far better – though the classical music posts may soon make a comeback. And best of all, there is now some exciting and unique primary journalism in the mix as well as the traditional reaction and commentary on developing political news stories.
One story in particular – my coverage of the People’s Assembly March Against Austerity back in June – received widespread attention and acclaim from senior journalists and establishment figures across the political spectrum. Not everyone agreed with the conclusions I drew from covering the overlooked London anti-austerity demonstration, but there was a general consensus that my coverage raised some important questions.
With this improvement in the blog’s output have come new opportunities to make the case for maximal personal freedom and limited, effective government to a wider audience. I am now a regular contributor to London Live TV’s Headline London lunchtime news programme, where they seem to like my no-nonsense, generally libertarian outlook on local and national politics. Further opportunities to provide semi-partisan analysis on television and various political websites are also in development.
But with new opportunities come new challenges. Making a career change into journalism and updating this blog on anything like a regular basis – in between doing a day job – is long, difficult work. Carrying out the kind of primary journalism which can drive or contribute to the news cycle is even more demanding in terms of time and money.
I have concluded at present that the time spent writing and honing pitches to the likes of The Guardian newspaper for freelance work is not worth the investment and frequent 2AM bedtimes – it significantly detracts from blogging time with no guarantee that the story will be picked up (I am currently 0-5 for such article pitches, at a cost of countless wasted hours of effort).
Therefore, I have taken the decision to turn directly to my readers to help fund this blog’s next initiatives.
Semi-Partisan Sam has received press credentials to cover the upcoming UKIP party conference in Doncaster later this month. With all of the current upheavals in British politics – the Scottish independence referendum, UKIP’s performance in the local and European elections and the upcoming Clacton by-election – this promises to be a political convention like no other in recent times.
This blog has covered the rise of UKIP extensively, well before more mainstream outlets began taking a real interest and registering their panic at the thought of UKIP MPs sitting in Parliament following the 2015 general election. But unlike much of the mainstream media, this blog has sought to understand the legitimate motivations of UKIP supporters rather than dismissing them as bitter, prejudiced and economically left-behind simpletons. And though this blog does not share the anti-immigration hysteria of some UKIP activists and supporters, it does find common cause with UKIP’s message of returning power back to a democratically accountable level in Westminster, and acting decisively in the UK’s national interest.
I hope that my coverage of the UKIP conference will not only be illuminating, but will provide an antidote to the inevitable distortions, mischaracterisation and hysteria that most newspapers have demonstrated to be the extent of their interest in covering the rise of Britain’s new third party.
But to achieve these ambitions and more, additional resources are required.
Regular readers who enjoy reading Semi-Partisan Sam, and who believe that journalism should offer more than a binary choice between the partisan filters of the cozy Westminster elite on one hand and dumbed-down Buzzfeed-style listicles on the other, are invited to make a donation (of whatever amount you choose) to help fund my ongoing work, including – but not limited to – coverage of the upcoming UKIP party conference.
Your donation will help to defray some of the considerable costs of travel, accommodation, internet and subscription services whilst on-site, and a necessary investment in new audiovisual technology (a DSLR camera and microphone of the type on which I trained with the Big Issue) so that all those interviews and pictures come to life in glorious HD rather than the shaky iPhone footage which has had to suffice thus far.
Additionally, at a time when newspapers are closing down and journalism of all forms is under huge pressure to participate in a race to the bottom in search of clicks and web traffic above quality reporting and analysis, your donation will make a small but important stand for quality, truly independent new journalism.
You can make a donation conveniently and safely via PayPal, here:
But more than anything else, if you ever read something here that makes you stop and think, shake your fist in furious disagreement or helps you to see an issue in a new light, please take a moment to pass it on by sharing it with your networks on social media, and contributing your own thoughts via the Comments function. The sharing buttons can be found at the bottom of each article, while the “Leave a Comment” button appears on the left side of the screen below the tags.
In just 30 months, Semi-Partisan Sam has gone from being an overflow space for political rants too long for Facebook and of wildly uneven quality, to a budding journalistic enterprise with (hopefully) real potential for the future. Thank you all for reading, clicking, sharing and commenting.
And a special thanks to those of you who are able to financially contribute to the next chapter of this blog’s growth.
I would love to donate a little something to you – I had a very good week last week – but cannot use PayPal. Could I send you a bit in a card by post instead? Love your blog when I get time to read it – love Sharon