Here we go again

Welcome to the new Harry’s Place which has been relocated, redesigned and revamped in order to provide a more attractive, reliable and reader-friendly blog – I hope you will enjoy the new site which will continue to offer open comments on a range of contemporary political issues.

I set up the original Harry’s Place back in November 2002 as a place to share some ideas and links with friends but before long the site had taken off as one of the few blogs in the infant UK blogosphere of that time to offer a democratic-left perspective. I realised it would be far more interesting with other views than my own and invited Gene and Marcus to contribute to the site and after a smart redesign we moved over to the bloghouse servers and added David T and Brownie to the contributors. It was under this format that the site enjoyed a growing popularity as a forum for debate about the post 9-11 political situation.

In particular, HP was the venue for heated discussion of the Iraq war, the ‘anti-war’ movement, the Islamist far-right, the decline of the Marxist left, the rise of left anti-Semitism, the slow death of internationalism, Zionism and Anti-Zionism and also examined issues relating to religion and secularism. Those are the issues that HP continues to be known for.

Gordon, Brett, Graham and Adam Lebor joined the list of contributors while Johann Hari had a spell on the site and I myself dropped out of active involvement but despite the changing personnel the aim of the site has remained the same – to provide an open forum for the democratic, secular, anti-fascist, liberal, anti-totalitarian left and – via the comments boxes — a space for our opponents (and friends) to answer back. A change of home will not change that commitment.

Harry’s Place won many plaudits and friends over the years because it offered an analysis (although never a ‘line’) which was under-represented in the media and in mainstream party politics. The views associated with the site seem less isolated these days with the Euston Manifesto having acted as a pole of attraction for like-minded people, campaigns such as Engage having shown that taking a stand in practice can result in real changes and books and mainstream media articles appearing which have challenged the presumed hegemony of the Guardianish left.

Just as politics has changed, in these past five to six years, so has the media – political blogs are no longer, as they were when HP began, on the fringe of debate but have become an essential component of political discourse, read by all those seeking stimulating exchanges of opinion and ideas.

The New Harry’s Place, HP 2.0 if you like, will remain in the tradition outlined here but as it continues to evolve there will be more new voices and fresher opinions coming to you over these pages. The increased use of guest posters, with specialist knowledge, will be given a fresh push in the coming weeks and there are other interesting developments in the pipeline.

But we cannot deny that while winning friends, HP has also always got on the nerves of many people – the Stoppers, the Gallowayites, the Livingstonians and the Islamists, hate to have their dealings finally exposed to scrutiny. Some Labour Party supporters frown at the independent stance taken by the site towards the party and some erstwhile friends of the site find the diversity of opinions here to be unpalatable and evidence of some sort of ‘sell out’.

To friends and foes alike, I can only say that Harry’s Place would not be Harry’s Place if there were limits on the debate here or if there were attempts to imprison bloggers within the framework of some ideological uniformity. After all, we chose our motto for a reason and we are right to be fiercely protective about upholding the essence of liberty which it proclaims.

Welcome on board the New Harry’s Place – “Liberty, if it means anything at all, is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.”

PS:  We will be expanding our links to the left in time, including the Republic of Blogs. Please don’t take your absence as an exclusion. Cheers.