Contributor Guidelines

Welcome to The Backbencher Contributor List!

We are really pleased that you have decided to join us and look forward to publishing your work as part of our effort to provide British politics with a solid libertarian, free market voice that represents the real backbench or hidden view.

Whether you are an established and experienced writer or looking to promote your first article on a public platform, we want you to have the most productive and beneficial experience possible. 

Writing for The Backbencher may be voluntary, but we have a diverse readership which includes eyes watching from many of the national newspapers, magazines and journals, as well as many of the journalists that you will recognise by name.

We want to be successful together, so we would like to provide you with some guidelines to follow which will make the contribution process as straightforward as possible.

Topics

Because there are a lot of political websites and journals, we have made an editorial decision to focus on publishing pieces of no more than 600 words that look at current, trending news topics through a libertarian or free market lens.

Trending news pieces should fall under the following categories:

  • UK Left – This includes the Labour party as well as unions such as the NUS
  • UK Tory Party/Right
  • SNP/Indy Ref
  • Culture War
  • Money – This does not have to be dry economics! Anything from EU trade talks to how lockdown affects people’s finances falls under this category.

Other pieces we will consider:

  • List Articles – For example, ‘Ten reasons why lockdown is bad for the economy’. These may be slightly longer than 600 words, but should not be overly long.
  • Data Analysis Pieces – We will consider longer pieces if they deal with interesting data that is relevant to current affairs and add original analysis to the conversation.
  • Interviews – Again these should not be overly long but may be longer than 600 words.

We will currently only publish opinion pieces written by editors of the site, or people who have made regular contributions for some time. Of course, your opinion will form part of your writing about trending topics, but the focus of these should be to inform readers of current events.

Of course, if you have an interesting pitch for an article which falls outside these categories but you think would work for the site please get in touch, particularly if it covers events that are currently unforeseen!

If you have an angle on something and you are unsure, please contact The Backbencher Editorial Team by e-mail on blogthebackbencher@gmail.com and start the subject bar with ‘SUBMISSIONS – QUESTION’.

Content Checklist

  • We want to grab readers’ interest and keep them interested. We believe that in order to do this, your article should either inform, entertain or annoy.
  • Make sure work has a crisp and specific angle – do not write generally on topics
  • Articles need to be interesting but also short; about 400 – 600 words. As a rough guide, a side of A4 in 12pt Ariel Typeface is usually around 500 words. Generally speaking, you should always edit and look to reduce your first draft and the rule of thumb will be that the final draft you send to us will be about 80% of what you began with, if you are doing it right. So if your initial draft is about one and a half sides of A4 in MS Word, you shouldn’t be too far off when your editing is done.
  • All pieces must link to another article on The Backbencher. Ideally, this should be another piece you have written on a similar topic, but of course to start with this will need to be an article written by someone else. Don’t worry too much about this though – an editor can do this for you if you’re having trouble.
  • All pieces should include an embedded Tweet or video if possible. There will of course be some cases where this is not appropriate though, so don’t let it stop you doing something original. Please paste the URLs for Tweets / Videos between paragraphs where you want them to appear.
  • If you are making specific references to what someone has said or done, please provide links to stats, reports or quotes. To insert hyperlinks, highlight the word or phrase where the link needs to go and use Ctrl+K (on Windows) or ⌘-K (on MacOS) to open the hyperlink box, which you can then paste the link into.
  • Criticising people or institutions is fine as long as you have evidence to support your arguments and do not make things personal. For example, tell your readers that someone has acted too late to make any meaningful impact, but don’t call them a silly fool for doing it!
  • Don’t be afraid to get something wrong or disagree with others – this is part of the learning process but do double check all your assertions and evidence and proofread your work!

Titles

Straplines or titles are very important and should:

  • Be short – ideally 8 words or fewer
  • Have clear key words included that relate to the subject and/or people involved
  • Be attention-grabbing and make the reader want to know more (if you are unsure, run it by someone you know who will be objective and see how they react)

If we publish your work, we want it to be read. So if we feel the title can be improved we will make adjustments, as it is in our mutual interest if we do!

Images

Copyright is a big issue when using pictures. If you have a picture in mind for your article, it must be free of copyright or you must have permission for it to be used. As a rule, pictures used by other publications are an absolute NO. To find an image we can legally use on a google image search, click ‘Tools’, then ‘Usage Rights’ and select ‘Labelled for Reuse’.

Please find as large a file as you can.

If you don’t have a picture or are uncertain whether its use would infringe someone’s copyright, then don’t worry, we will find one suitable for you.

Style and Formatting

To ensure a coherent style across our articles, please observe the following formatting principles:

  • Dates written in “day month” format (e.g. 15 June)
  • Numbers one-to-nine written in words, 10 and up in numerals
  • Capital letters reserved for only proper nouns, acronyms, titles, and the first letter of each sentence
  • Oxford comma (e.g. “At Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson was quizzed on tourism, defence, and foreign policy…”)
  • Acronyms written out in full in the first instance and then in acronym form thereon. (e.g. The Foriegn and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced…  The FCO went on to say…)
  • Time written in 12hr clock format (e.g. 3:15pm)

Submission

When you have your final edited draft (and headline picture if you have one) ready, please send a copy in a Word file by e-mail to blogthebackbencher@gmail.com 

In the Subject line start with ‘SUBMISSION, then the Topic area and then the name of your Editor.

e.g. SUBMISSION – NUS – PATRICK

We will then do the rest!