the Times is going to go paywall at the end of this month, and that seems to us like a natural point to bring “Aaronovitch Watch” to a close. Whatever the ease or otherwise of getting Aaro’s weekly column on the down-low, the fact is that with his disappearance behind the paywall he’s going to be a less influential and less important columnist – with the passing of New Labour as well, this was always going to be the case anyway.
In the wider “World of Decency”, I also feel that a historical moment has largely passed by. There are still imperial wars out there, of course, still ludicrous double standards on human rights and even the New Labour project is not 100% dead yet. And Harry’s Place and Normblog and all will presumably continue to be as ghastly as they ever were, while Nick Cohen is unlikely to shut up as he is to ever write a readable column again. And all of these baleful social phenomena will still have their crowd of cheerleaders from a soi-Decent Left perspective, with willyoucondemnathons and all. But, well, do you care as much as you did five years ago? I know I don’t. If we carry this thing on beyond its natural life, it’s almost certain to end up as another site about bloody Israel.
(Prescient, because a week and a half later, the flotilla happened and even the most reluctant blogs threatened to become “another site about bloody Israel”.) I can’t remember exactly how I first found Aaronovitch Watch – probably by googling some combination of the words “Nick Cohen” and “is wrong” – but it’s been one of the best things in my RSS feeds ever since I subscribed to it.
As well as rustling up well-informed analyses (not just of Aaro, but of pretty much any rhetoric from the bizarro world of liberal beligerance that huddled under the tag of Decency), Aaro Watch has always been pleasingly provisional. Loads of blogs are written on the premise that the author knows a Great Deal about something and you have come to imbibe their worldview; the writers of Aaro Watch say things like, “It’s perverse, but I like being wrong. If I’m not wrong at lot of the time, I know I’m not trying hard enough.”
And, probably because the blog has always been written in explicitly discursive style, a strong and interesting community of discussion has gathered around it. I’ve only ever been an irregular commenter on there, but the threads are always worth reading: long without turning cyclical, smart and usually funny too. I’m going to miss that part of the blog maybe even more than I’m going to miss it as a centralised location for Nick Cohen abuse.
Text © Sarah Ditum, 2010