Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Look, I may need to reassess my feelings on this at some point in early 2015, but for the time being Daniel Knowles more or less says it all:

We are almost exactly in the midterm of this parliament, and we are at the very bottom of a brutal economic downturn. It is unsurprising that when several thousand people from across the country are asked how they will vote, many opt for populist parties like Ukip, which has a strong media presence and a charismatic leader. But, thankfully, political victories are not won in polls. When someone actually goes into a ballot box, they are not presented with a list of parties, but a list of candidates, and a specific job – whether it is a council seat or a parliamentary one. Faced with that choice, disaffected Tories will grit their teeth and vote Conservative.

Saying that you'll vote for UKIP in an opinion poll is the cheapest form of protest that there is. Voting for them in the European Elections is the second cheapest. Actually voting for them in a General Election, where the choice is between Cameron and Ed Miliband? I suspect that will prove to be a bit too pricy for most would-be 'Kippers.

The lust for black and white

It's such a shame that the Times no longer forms part of the online conversation. It has, by a distance, the best columnists, and there's something worth discussing on it pretty much every day. Still, as Caitlin Moran likes to say, bitch gotta make rent.

Anyway, there was a line in the excellent Rachel Sylvester's article yesterday that made me think. This is the line, in the context of trying to classify David Cameron:

There is a curious mixture of tradition and modernity within this Converse-wearing Old Etonian who is as comfortable playing Fruit Ninja as tending his vegetable patch.

Is this really such a curious mix? I mean, I wear Converse trainers and went to Winchester. I play Angry Birds on my iPhone and muck about in my garden weeding, planting, pruning and so on. Is there any contradiction there? Must everyone who went to public school live exclusively in oxford brogues, black for town, brown for country?

There is a strange need to classify people into very specific pigeon holes, where one aspect of their nature serves to identify them across the board. People don't work that way. Tastes are personal and eclectic - would you really have guessed that Ed Miliband's favourite sport is American Football? Or that Francois Bayrou knows about the Konami code?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Being careful what you wish for

Rather fortuitously, I've spent the last few days on holiday and so managed to avoid most of the infuriatingly inane "crisis" that has engulfed the Coalition. Pasties, and jerry cans and so forth. I suppose it's possible that we'll look back on this and note it as the final turning-point that set Ed Miliband on the road to no.10. But then, if I'd been blogging back in September 2000, I have no doubt that I'd have been writing excitedly that this was the time that William Hague triumphed over his doubters, and was just bound to win the next election.

In any event, something that Martin Ivens wrote in the Sunday Times sparked some sort of synapse. It's something I've been thinking for a while now:

The final irony is that newspapers used to decry Blair’s age of spin, yet when the Tory spin machine proves useless they scream blue murder.

It was an absolutely standard line in all newspapers back in the day about how much they wished for a Government that didn't care so much about presentation. The amount of time and effort Labour spent (particularly in those halcyon early Blair years) on wooing and winning the media was seen as symptomatic of its essential emptiness, and the presence of Alastair Campbell at the heart of the operation was ultimately toxic.

But there is no shortage of journalists who are still loyal to the Blair Government - John Rentoul, obviously, but also chaps like David Aaronovitch and Oliver Kamm. back in the day, of course, there were scores of the blighters (Secretary of State, I'm looking at you). Who do you think are Cameron's outriders in the press? Matt d'Ancona, I suppose, but I'd struggle to come up with many more. How important is this? Well, perhaps not very, at the moment. People (the great majority of them anyway) aren't paying much attention to politics just now. Even when it comes closer to the crunch, I get the impression that the Tories are more impressed by the power of television media than the dead tree press. Perhaps the lack of newspaper cultivation is a deliberate policy? If so, it's a brave one.