Iain Martin sees how English votes for English laws can work

Iain Martin writes a blog on politics for the Daily Telegraph. Iain’s a writer I respect, never slavishly following a party political line, and having an acute ear for the dynamics of modern political thought and presentation.

I’m pleased to see he’s another political commentator having a stab at resolving the West Lothian Question. Good on him. Links to other commentators ideas can be found HERE, and HERE.

Iain’s blog post ‘English votes for English laws can work. Here’s how’, is worth a read. Iain says ‘compromise and maturity’ are need to make it work. Isn’t that what we British are supposed to have. Whatever solution we end up with, I agree with Iain it will require generosity of spirit and flexibility to make it work, sadly not always a common commodity.

Insight and incisive comment a scarce commodity

Iain Martin’s blog on politics, from his position as Deputy Editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe, is no more, so he says. Latterly I was amused by Iain Martin’s fixation on David Cameron’s choice of tie, and his seeing it as a means of political interpretation. Without this and other of his comments, it’s a loss to the blogosphere.

Losing the blogs of Iain Dale, Tom Harris MP, and now Iain Martin means that insight and incisive comment in an individual blog is now a scarcer commodity.

However, I believe there’s a metamorphosis occurring with political and current affairs blogs. While the influential individual blog on politics is disappearing, political journal’s and bigger blogs are filling the space.

We’re seeing this change a bit late in the UK. In the US, the Huffington Post, began in 2005 as a internet-based news and opinion paper, and content aggregating blog, amazingly sold to AOL for $315 million.

The arrival, this week, of a redesigned Total Politics website is a mark of a similar transition. Politics Home recently captured the services of Paul Waugh, one of my favourite bloggers, to add editorial gravitas and focus to the website, although I find the site a bit crowded and ‘blocky’ for my taste.

We do have one exemplary internet political blog cum journal in Conservative Home, which aims to provide comprehensive coverage of Britain’s Conservative Party, saying,

“By 9am every day ConservativeHome identifies the most important Tory stories of the day.  The site is then updated throughout each day, seven days a week.”

And my it does this well. It’s a model of being supportive of a political party but being independent of it.

The point about individual opinion is that as you come to know the mind of the writer, you seek out their thoughts on the hot topics of the day.

Increasingly preferring ITV News

Just as Paul Waugh blogs, ITV News is earning justified respect. When I get the chance to watch the 10.0pm news, I’m increasing drawn to ITV News.

Last night they had a humdinger of an exclusive, Tom Bradby interviewing William and Kate on their engagement, in which, as Brucie would say, ‘didn’t he do well’. I like Tom Bradby’s well judged reporting on politics and interviewing style. Also, I remember the times when ITV News was the leading news channel, so returning to a past favourite is not such a stretch.

Why am I drawn to ITV News, a combination of things really; an unfussy and functional stage set; the two presenter model; and a sort of dispassionate newsy professionalism in contrast to the BBC’s ‘holier than thou’ and worthy news focus.

However, I do find that if Fiona Bruce is anchoring BBC News, she holds my attention, while Huw Edwards does not.

The Waugh Room prepared for action

Paul Waugh is now writing for his new blog The Waugh Room at PoliticsHome. Paul left the London Evening Standard last month as deputy political editor to become editor of PoliticsHome. Blog roll link amended to take you straight to the great man.

Another magazine on politics enters the market

There’s obviously a market for political magazines as I commented in-depth quite a while back, and not much has changed since then, other that the web and internet matures daily, putting pressure on print-based information. 

This week a new political magazine – ELECTED – was launched by Public Matters. I say that there’s obviously a market, well, I’m not  sure of its size, or of its business model. Elected says it will deliver its first three monthly issues free, to over 22,000 councillors, and other politicians. After that date its subscription only, at £5/month.

We councillors have a huge choice of reading matter. We receive First, a weekly magazine from the Local Government Association, and some political parties issue a quarterly magazine directed at their councillors. Then there’s Total Politics, a monthly from Iain Dale’s stable, and PoliticsHome, a web-based subscription service purely on Westminster politics.

As a councillor I’m expected to have an informed opinion on anything that affects our borough, and that’s a pretty wide range of topics. But at an individual level I put my energies into a smaller range of topics, some of which for me are the economic development of the town and villages in Surrey Heath, issues around leisure, environment, culture, and governance. The printed magazines don’t provide sufficient detail on my ‘hot’ issues. I can pick up on the state of political debate, from the daily press, TV, blogs, websites, or from councillors in neighbouring boroughs.

Therefore I’ll not be subscribing to Elected, although I’m impressed by the quality of its content, and that 20% of the magazine is on developing the expertise of local councillors. It’s becoming a crowded marketplace for political magazines. It’ll be interesting to see who wins.

I must admit that the acquisition by PoliticsHome of the London Evening Standard’s political journo Paul Waugh as its new editor, makes it the more likely that this is the service that I’ll plump for over the printed magazine.

More views on the 100 days of the coalition

Here are a couple more views on the coalition government, for your enjoyment. Both offer the view that I agree with, that this coalition government can, if they’ve the courage, foresight, and determination, provide the model for 21st century western democracies in a world of global trade and rapid communication.

The media’s view of 100 days of the coalition

The way I see it, the arguments in favour of the coalition are compelling; pragmatic compromise between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives equals rationalisation of policies; merging of the talents within the two parties; legitimacy to tackle the fiscal and structural deficits; no party won an overall majority so coalition politics are essential to get the country moving, or we’ll be faced with another election.

You might like to read the some of the commentators views on the first 100 days of the Coalition government. Some are favourable, some are hostile. Here are two of each.

During the week I’ll give my own short summary of the 100 days of the coalition government.

Labour’s tactics against Coalition neatly summed up

Janet Daley, in Sunday’s Telegraph, has neatly summed up Labour’s unsubtle tactics to split the coalition government. Not for them the honesty of political debate, or serious discussion on policy, more a question of “lobbing rocks” at the coalition as she says,

“In the best tradition of desperate, unscrupulous opposition politics, Labour – leaderless and rudderless as it may be – is lobbing rocks at the Coalition with all the fervour and anarchic witlessness of a mob of teenage insurgents.”

“To this end, [Labour’s aim of destabilising of the Liberal-Conservative alliance] they are scraping up every shred of incompatibility and contradiction which they perceive – or pretend to perceive – and hawking it to their friends in the media, whose loyalty to the Labour cause (whatever it turns out to be in its coming reincarnation) is of North Korean proportions.”

Janet worries that there’s a danger of a split coming soon. I think she falls to easily in line with the Westminster-centric pundocracy who see in problems at every turn. The general public to my mind see the need for change, and are happy, wrong word – not happy, are genrally accepting of it.

Lord Parkinson deflates Lord Steel

Eddie Mair’s assembled PM Panel, the Lords Parkinson and Steel, and Baroness Prosser, opined on the election chances of their respective parties in this evening’s PM programme on BBC Radio 4.

In a question from Eddie Mair on the likelihood of a Labour victory, Lord Steel [LibDem] said in dismissing Labour’s chances, one reason would be that, “No party has won four elections in succession.”

Eddie Mair turns to Lord Parkinson [Conservative], and asks him what chances for Labour’s victory. Lord Parkinson replies, “There is a party that won four elections in succession. The Conservatives in 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1992.”


Oh, the tortured calculations

Well, you could’ve knocked me down with a feather. I never expected that the Financial Times would declare for the Conservatives in this election. Seems they have in the editorial in Tuesday’s paper.

The FT’s Westminster blog is on my blog roll, specifically because its take on the political scene has a unique finance and City perspective. It’s two main writers, Frank Jim Pickard and Alex Barker, have, it seems to me, a strong leftish agenda, never seeking an opportunity to find the positive in Conservative policy.

Oh, how tortured must have been the discussions and calculations to come out for the Tories. I listened to the paper’s editor, Lionel Barber, being interviewed by Jeff Randall, on Randall and Boulton Unleashed. His endorsement of the Conservatives was offered on the basis that they would be best at reducing the size of the state, and be best for and enterprise and wealth creating culture. His words in the editorial were,

“They [the Conservatives] are not a perfect fit, but their instincts are sound. Their fiscal plans, while vague, suggest they would do most to reduce the size of the state – cutting more and taxing less than their opponents. They would create the best environment for enterprise and wealth creation.”

Spot on Lionel.

UPDATE: Oops, penalty of late night blogging, I called the estimable Jim Pickard, Frank. Apologies offered.