Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Two million up

Some time about midday, while I was furiously writing my last post, the counter clocked up our two millionth hit, a singular milestone in the life of any blog – and one I missed. By the time I looked at it, it was recording the figure shown left.

At the beginning of this year, looking at past performance and extrapolating the slow but steady growth in readership, Helen and I estimated that we would reach the one million-mark some time about the end of October. But that was before "Qanagate", an event neither of us could have anticipated.

By that reckoning, that single issue brought us over a million hits, demonstrating the strong public interest in our investigation. It says something of the British media that none of the mainstream news organs have carried it in their main sections and, while various media outlets have been happy to promote some British blogs, references to EU Referendum are noticeably absent in articles which have relevance to the issues we cover.

Nevertheless, two million hits is a happy event. Amongst those who made up the number, it has brought us many new – albeit "virtual" friends and many have stayed on after the "Qanagate" coverage, to become regular readers. To them we extend a special welcome, as well as thanking those that were with us from the start and who have joined us on the way. AS I have written before, without our readers, we would simply be lonely voices, squeaking in the wilderness.

That we need readers is self-evident but more so as we are a campaigning blog – we are not in this for our egos or for the pleasure of seeing the "hit counter" tick over, but to get things done. I would be happy to stop blogging tomorrow if we felt our job was done.

But we are changing things. Although, in the final analysis, it was a team effort which included my good friend Christopher Booker and, latterly, The Sunday Times, we feel that we did make the difference on the "Snatch" Land Rover campaign. I take some pride and comfort in the fact that, when new armoured vehicles finally do reach Iraq, they will save lives and, because of the input of the blog and our readers – as well as the other bloggers who joined in - there will be good people alive who might otherwise have died.

For that reason, we will continue with the Pinzgauer farce, those "coffins on wheels", as we have described them, and with the tolerance and support of our readers (but with little help from the MSM) will keep "banging on" until these death traps are withdrawn and more suitable equipment is put in place.

Perversely, this was not what the blog was set up to do – and not something we anticipated when the EU referendum was first announced in April 2004. But, when the French and Dutch deep-sixed that project, we decided to widen our scope and change our strap, which became, after much discussion: "to discuss issues related to the UK's position in Europe and the world".

We have more or less kept true that that line, although the relationship between an increasing number of our posts and our blog title is becoming more and more tenuous, almost to breaking point. That has been pointed out by some of our readers, and in particular in some very kind and thoughtful e-mails we received in response to my recent post (to which we will reply shortly).

Therefore, Helen and I are thinking hard about where we go – whether to set up a new blog - and many incidental issues, not least whether we can afford to migrate and lose our "brand identity" as EU Referendum. We must also think hard about financing the operation as it is now absorbing so much time that the idea of a "day job" is also becoming rather tenuous. It is only with the support and tolerance of our "employers" that we have managed so far.

That said, which is probably too much, we must thank again our readers past and present, and our forum members – many of which we will continue to vex – and look forward to our next million, either in this or another format, depending on the outcome of our ruminations.

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